Try This 6-Ingredient Snack: Cheesy Spinach Pockets

Inviting some pals over to hang out can quickly turn stressful when you realize they’re going to expect some food. Before you reach for your phone to order delivery, take a few deep breaths. Homemade eats don’t have to be difficult. With original recipes from our Everyday Appetizers series, you can pull off showstopping starters without losing your cool. 

As strange as it sounds, most people have a real affinity for dough stuffed with delicious fillings. Think about it; ravioli, calzones, hand pies, toaster pastries, and jelly doughnuts all fit into this category. These foods also tend to be pretty labor-intensive, but they don’t have to be. Using some store-bought crescent roll dough, we created these pastry pockets filled with spinach and cheese. They’re halfway between a hand pie and a calzone and completely satisfying, particularly when fresh out of the oven.

About this recipe

plate of cheesy spinach pockets

Christine Skopec/Culture Cheat Sheet

Savory hand pies are a particularly great appetizer when the weather’s cold, but the crust is difficult to make and shape if you don’t have tons of experience. While a soft pizza dough is a lot easier to work with, it lacks the same buttery richness. We found a happy medium in refrigerated crescent roll dough. It has enough fat to mimic the taste of a pie crust and plenty of stretch to make assembly really easy. To keep things as simple as possible, we used big flavors to minimize filling ingredients. What you end up with is a soft, buttery dough filled with a cheesy spinach mixture flecked with bits of sweet sun-dried tomatoes.

The most important thing to note about this recipe is to thaw the spinach well in advance. Trying to melt it quickly in the microwave usually leaves you with spinach that’s too hot to work with. The easiest way to thaw the greens is to put the container in a bowl or other container and let it defrost in the refrigerator overnight.

Once the spinach is ready, you’ll want to squeeze out as much liquid as possible using a stack of paper towels or a clean kitchen towel. This step is not optional. Using the greens as they are will make your filling way too wet. You want the interior to be creamy, not soggy.

Pop the spinach into a bowl with some cream cheese, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, and some grated cheese. We chose Gruyère because it has a nutty flavor that tastes delicious with the greens and melts beautifully. You can also substitute other cheeses, like provolone, cheddar, or fontina. Just make sure to choose something that melts well.

Once your filling is combined, unroll the dough. Use your fingers to pinch all the seams together so each dough sheet forms a cohesive rectangle, then stretch it into a square. Cut each dough sheet into fourths, then add your filling. Because the dough is so soft, folding and pinching should be really easy. Lastly, use a fork to poke a few holes in the top of each pocket to allow the steam to escape while in the oven. Once baked, be sure to let the pockets cool off to avoid any injuries from molten cheese.

This recipe pretty prominently features spinach, which is notoriously difficult to match with wine. When paired together, the beverage often ends up tasting metallic or bitter. Adding cheese helps soften the blow, but you still want to aim for a red that’s on the light side to avoid any off flavors. Food & Wine suggested Gamay with spinach. As for white, look for acidity. Hello Vino suggested a Sauvignon Blanc.

Beer drinkers need to keep in mind the richness of this dish before making a selection. Anything too hoppy or malty is going to overwhelm your palate, so stick with something a little more refreshing. Food52 recommended farmhouse ales and saisons for cheesy spinach concoctions.

One of the most reliable methods for matching cocktails with food is thinking of ingredients that pair well with the dish, then applying it to a beverage. Spinach is a pretty earthy flavor that’s often balanced by berries or other juicy fruits for salads. For this reason, a Kir Royale or fizzy pomegranate drink will work wonderfully.

Cheesy Spinach Pockets

cheesy spinach pocket being torn open

Christine Skopec/Culture Cheat Sheet

If you’re feeling especially lazy, skip the crescent roll dough completely. Smear the cheese and spinach mixture between two slices of bread, butter both sides, then cook in a skillet for a phenomenal grilled cheese. As written, this recipe makes 8 pockets.

Ingredients:

  • ½ (10-ounce) box frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup grated Gruyère cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • Salt
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages refrigerated crescent roll dough

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. With a clean dish cloth or several layers of heavy-duty paper towels, wring as much moisture from spinach as possible. Transfer spinach to a medium bowl and separate with your fingers. Add cream cheese, Gruyère, and sun-dried tomatoes. Season with salt and stir to combine.

Unroll crescent roll dough onto a clean work surface. Use your fingers to press and seal together all seams to form a cohesive rectangle. Stretch into a square, then cut into fourths. You should have eight total squares.

Evenly divide spinach and cheese mixture among lower corner of each individual square. Fold over top portion of dough on the diagonal to cover filling. Pinch to seal or use the tines of a fork. Prick the top of each pocket a few times with a fork to allow steam to escape.

Transfer pockets to a sheet tray, leaving a few inches between each. Bake until pockets are puffed and golden brown, 9 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool briefly, and serve warm.

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