Spinach Puffs

This recipe is a favorite of mine, an easy holiday appetizer with style. Much of it be made well in advance, leaving you plenty of time to brine the bird, sauce the cranberries or mix another gigantic pitcher of martinis.

Hey, everybunny! Thanks to you folks who came out to Pacific Culinary Studio for the holiday open house. Thanks especially to those of you who braved the softball sized hail, sleet and frozen rain. Here, as promised, is the spinach puff recipe. By the way, since a lot of folks asked for it, here is a great source for sumac. A suggestion for how to substitute lemon zest for sumac is written into the recipe. Enjoy!



  • One  10 x 15” sheet puff pastry, defrosted*
  • Two 10-oz. packages frozen spinach, defrosted
  • 1 Tbsp. canola, grapeseed or rice bran oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced in half and then cut into thin half-moons
  • ½ cup dried cranberries, raisins, currants or cherries, chopped
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts or pine nuts, chopped
  • 2 tsp. chile flake
  • 1 Tbsp. sumac (you may substitute the same amount of lemon zest, if unavailable)
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • More oil (about half a cup) for rolling and brushing
  • Paprika, ground chile flake or more sumac for dusting


Squeeze out as much of the water from the defrosted spinach as you can; it should be dry enough that you can pick it up and roll it around in your hands like dough. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed sauté pan. Sauté the onions over medium-high heat until they are lightly browned, 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently. Turn them out onto a heatproof plate and spread them out a bit to cool. When they are cool enough to handle, roughly chop them into small pieces.

Combine the onion, dried fruit nuts, chile flake, sumac or lemon zest and cheese. Taste it, add salt and pepper, and taste again. Adjust seasonings as you like.

Preheat your oven to 425 F. Dust your work surface with a bit of flour. Place the puff pastry on top of the dusted surface. Cut the puff pastry lengthwise into three even-sized rectangles. Starting with the first rectangle, take a third of the spinach mixture and line it along the center of the pastry, forming a log from end to end. Make sure the log is fairly uniform in size and fairly "tight".

Brush the top portion of the dough above the filling with oil. Gently lift the bottom edge of the dough and fold it over the log. Roll it gently as you fold, and keep the bottom edge pressed closely against the filling. Reshape the roll into as uniform a log as possible. Brush the log with oil and slice into 12 pieces on the diagonal. Repeat with remaining 2 rectangles.

Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat and bake for 8-12 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown. Serve immediately. Makes about 36 pieces.

* Ideally, puff pastry should be defrosted overnight in your refrigerator. If you can't do this it's ok to defrost on your countertop as you work on the rest of the recipe. Just make sure it doesn't get so warm that you can't pick it up and work with it. If your pastry is cracked or broken when it comes out of the box, just take a rolling pin to it when it's defrosted.

You can make this recipe ahead of time by preparing the filling up to two days in advance. You can also complete the recipe all the way up to the rolling of the dough. Put the rolled pastry logs onto a sheet pan, freeze them uncovered on a parchment-lined sheet pan, then remove the frozen logs to a Ziploc bag. When you’re ready to bake them off, defrost the logs in the refrigerator.

This recipe works best with puff pastry, but if you prefer phyllo or just happen to have a roll of it left over in your freezer, go ahead and use it instead. To substitute, simply use 4-5 stacked sheets of phyllo in place of the puff.

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