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Sometimes you set out to improve things and it all falls flat on its face. The original recipe for these snails calls for feta cheese. It actually calls for roasted fennel instead of spinach but there I think the change is all right – spinach in filo pastry is a classic after all.
I had no feta in the fridge, but some perfectly nice mozzarella instead. Given a choice, I’ll probably go Italian rather than Greek so I figured – better! Mozzarella will glue the filling together and ooze lovely when the baked pastry is cut.
Ooze it certainly did. Before the pastry was cut or even taken out of the oven.
I did mumble a few unprintable words seeing the outcome, admonished myself sternly along the lines of ‘recipe says feta, use the blooming feta’, got the things out and tried. And extremely tasty they turned out to be but alas! no lookers.
The original recipe (needless to say, pictured nice and shapely) came from The Times a few Saturdays ago.
filo snailsServings: 2Time: about an hour and a half
- Makes 2 pastries, to serve two people
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 2 shallots, chopped finely
- 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and pressed
- 150g mushrooms, oyster, shitake or a mix of wild, thinly sliced
- salt and pepper
- 250g spinach, frozen and thawed or fresh
- 100g cooking mozzarella or feta, diced
- 3 large sheets of filo pastry
- 50g butter, melted, for brushing
- poppy seeds, sesame seeds for topping
1. Melt the butter in a pan, add the chopped shallots and cook on medium heat until translucent and softened. Add the pressed garlic and the mushrooms and season well with salt and pepper. Turn up the heat, cover the pan and cook for about 10 minutes until softened.
2. Roughly chop the frozen spinach and squeeze out the moisture. If using fresh, just wash it and chop roughly. Stir the spinach into the mushrooms and cook for further 10 minutes. Leave to cool.
3. If you’re using mozzarella (depends on the preference but please note what I say above about using mozzarella), the snails will tend to spread more and the cheese might ooze through the sides, it tastes really nice though. Add the cheese to the mushrooms and spinach mixture and stir in well.
4. Lay a filo sheet on a work surface and brush with melted butter. Cut the third sheet in half and lay it on top, close to the longer edge. Brush it with butter.
5. Spoon half the filling alongside the long edge in a row, roll it upwards and coil the roll into a snail. Place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment and brush the top with more butter. Roll and coil the other snail in the same way.
6. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/gas 5. Sprinkle the snails with sesame and/or poppy and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and crisp. Let them rest for a few minutes before serving as the filling will be scorching hot.