In my house, St. Patrick’s Day is a major holiday, at least when it comes to food. To celebrate, with a nod to my Jewish roots, I could have made rugelach with green dough. But I had a much better idea – I made Molly Yeh’s Spinach Feta Rugelach.
I got to know about Molly and her book, Molly on the Range, when I interviewed her for The Jewish Food Experience. Multi-talented and fun-loving, she is slightly off-beat in a delightful way. Her book of recipes and stories is a quick read. She’ll make you smile as she recounts how she moved from New York and Julliard to the farm life and how she made friends when she got to Grand Forks, North Dakota.
My favorite part of Molly’s recipe repertoire is the leave-no-cuisine-behind aspect. Her Asian and Jewish food roots, newly discovered farm favorites, and childhood food fantasies all get to the table. Add Middle Eastern standards plus a dash of Indian flavors and you’re right there with Molly. Try her Samosa Knishes and she’ll raise you a Clown Cone or a Schnitzel Bao with Sriracha Mayo and Sesame Pickles.
Every once in a while, she does come up with a recipe that makes me shake my head in disbelief. I could barely bring myself to check out “Italian Rainbow Cookie Salad.” But when I did, the dessert actually sounded more enticing than that I had expected.
I had no such hesitation when it came to Spinach Feta Rugelach. Savory rugelach sound delicious to me, particularly when they feature one of the all-time great vegetable-cheese combinations, spinach and feta. And given my family’s Irish and Jewish roots, the green-filled rugelach were perfect as my contribution to this month’s Progressive Eats St. Patrick’s Day theme.
And while I’m all for homemade, I’m feeling rather overwhelmed at the moment. Store-bought pie dough and frozen spinach are about all I can cope with at the moment. If I have no hesitation in using a cake mix to make the world’s best poppy seed cake, why should I blanch at taking a few more short cuts?
With Molly’s permission, I had planned to post Spinach Feta Rugelach just as she presented them in Home on the Range. But true to form, I ended up making a few adaptations. Nothing spectacular mind you. Just revised directions and a few tweaks that show I don’t go wasting my shallots just because she doesn’t specify them and I don’t fret when a recipe calls for heavy cream and all I have is whole milk. PS – I forgot to put the hot sauce in the photo. Do use it and don’t be afraid that it will make the Spinach Feta Rugelach taste weird. I put in a few shakes and my dear spouse says he wished I’d added more.
I can assure you that with store-bought refrigerated pie crust and frozen spinach, this is an elegant appetizer that doesn’t take lots of prep work. The trick is to buy good quality pie dough and feta. Of course, you’re welcome to use homemade dough, which would be spectacular. But this is one recipe where cutting that corner is approved – by me and apparently by Molly Yeh’s mom too. (She created this recipe when testing a spinach feta pop tarts for Molly and “accidentally” turned them into rugelach. Sounds like my kind of woman!)
St. Patrick's Day Spinach Feta Rugelach
Add a spinach feta filling to the traditional rolled crescent rugelach shape and what do you get? These wonderful savory morsels. They're impressive enough for a party appetizer and quick enough for a weekend snack.
- 10 ounces Frozen spinach
- 2 tablespoons Unsalted butter
- 1 Small onion or large shallot, finely chopped
- Kosher and/ flaky sea salt such as Maldon
- 2-4 cloves Garlic, minced
- Black pepper, freshly ground
- 2 tablespoons Flour
- 3 tablespoons Heavy cream or whole milk
- 3/4 cup Feta cheese, crumbled
- 1 teaspoon Fresh lemon juice
- Hot sauce
- 1 package Store-bought refrigerated pie dough - rolled, not in a pie crust or 2 balls of homemade pie dough
- 1 Large egg yolk, beaten with a splash of water
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Take the frozen spinach out of the box or bag and let it soften slightly on a plate at room temperature. This should take just a few minutes while you prepare the other ingredients. If the spinach is not already chopped, roughly chop it.
In a medium-large pot or pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft and translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add the minced garlic and a few turns of freshly ground pepper. Cook for an additional minute until the garlic becomes fragrant. Add the flour and mix it into the onion and garlic mixture, then stir in the heavy cream or milk. After mixing all that together, add the spinach and 1-2 more pinches of salt. Stir and continue to cook for a minute or two until the spinach is heated and the mixture is thoroughly combined. Add in the feta, lemon juice and a dash or two of hot sauce. Mix to combine and remove from heat. If necessary, adjust seasoning. Let the mixture cool down to room temperature.
Whether you're using store-bought or homemade dough, roll out one of the 2 pieces of dough onto a lightly floured surface into a circle about 1/4-inch thick and about 12/13-inches round. (In my experience, store-bought dough circles are usually a bit thicker and smaller than that. If your store-bought dough is already that size, then you can leave it "as is.")
Spread half of the spinach feta mixture evenly on top of the dough, leaving about 1/4-inch at the edge of the dough uncovered. (It looks like an uncooked spinach pizza.) Using a pizza cutter or knife, cut the circle in half, then quarters and then each quarter in half, so that you end up with 8 triangular wedges.
Gently roll up one wedge, beginning at the outer (widest part) and working toward the center. Don't press too hard or the filling will ooze out as you roll. Remove that rugelach and repeat the process until all of the wedges are rolled.
Place the formed rugelach on one of the parchment-lined baking sheets and repeat the process with the other piece of dough and the rest of the spinach feta mixture.
Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the egg wash (egg yolk mixed with a bit of water) on the tops of the rugelach. If the filling was not too salty, sprinkle a bit more salt on top.
Bake the rugelach for about 20 minutes, until golden brown. Let them cool on a wire rack for a few minutes. Serve while still warm, but easy to handle.
Be sure to let the filling cool down before you spread it on the dough. If you don't, the hot filling makes the dough too soft to roll up easily. (Molly doesn't mention this step in her directions - I'm not sure why.) For my first batch I didn't wait long enough and the still-hot filling made the dough too soft to roll up the wedges. I had to stop and refrigerate the dough with the filling on top - on a pizza tray - until it cooled down.
Molly pushes her filling all the way out to the edge of the circle. I prefer to keep mine just a bit inside the edge. The filling oozes out anyway and it's slightly neater if it's not right up against the edge.
When serving, warm the platter slightly so that it does not cool down the rugelach. I do this either by putting a bit of water on the platter and microwaving it, then draining and drying it or if the platter is oven-safe, I put warm it in the oven or toaster oven.
Leftover rugelach can be stored, covered in the refrigerator and reheated in the toaster oven.
Welcome to Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a Progressive Dinner Party. This month we’re sharing Irish or Green recipes in anticipation of St. Patrick’s Day You’ll certainly find a delicious recipe to add to your repertoire! Our event is hosted by Liz who blogs at That Skinny Chick Can Bake. We have a full menu of dishes including appetizers, sides, an entree and desserts. You’ll certainly find a delicious recipe to add to your holiday table!
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats, a theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out.
St. Patrick’s Day Recipes
- Smoked Salmon Stuffed Baby Potatoes from The Redhead Baker
- Spinach Feta Rugelach from Mother Would Know
- Hot Cocoa with Baileys and Coconut Whipped Cream (Dairy-Free) from The Wimpy Vegetarian
- Spicy Lamb Cobbler from Spice Roots
- Irish Soda Biscuits with Caraway and Thyme from OMG! Yummy
- Bacon and Leek Irish Colcannon (Gluten-Free) from The Heritage Cook
- Cabbage with Bacon and Cream from All Roads Lead to the Kitchen
- Key Lime Pie with Graham Cracker Crust from That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Irish Whiskey Cake from Creative Culinary