Delicate spinach roll filled with cheese and herbs, a nice, fresh appetizer for an easy brunch.
This is a typical Romanian appetizer, usually served at Easter: a super tender spinach roll or spinach roulade filled with two types of cheese and lots of herbs.
We love this kind of roulades in Romania. The expert in our family is my aunt Geta; she has so many rolls in her repertoire... rolls with cheese, with chicken, with ham. So many different recipes that she makes every year, both for Easter and Christmas.
- Spinach: I used frozen spinach, a packet containing 450 g/ 1 lb chopped spinach. You can also use fresh spinach, if you like, I guess about 700 g/1 ½ lbs fresh spinach should be about the same. But I prefer to use frozen spinach in this case, it tastes just as good and it is more convenient.
- The spinach is already chopped, and I don't have to spend time washing, removing the stems, and wilting huge amounts of fresh spinach.
- Plus, the amount of fresh spinach needed in this recipe costs about 4-5 times as much as the frozen spinach, and that is quite a lot.
- Cheese: I usually make this roll with Gouda cheese, but you can also try other sorts of cheese you like, something like Cheddar, for instance.
- I used a Turkish sort of dry fresh cheese for this spinach roll. If you cannot find that, use regular cottage cheese, which you can drain in advance and pat a bit dry with kitchen paper before using it.
- However, if the mixture is not as stiff as mine was when using the Turkish cheese, it will still be delicious, so do not worry too much about it; use whatever you have.
- You can even mix some cottage cheese with cream cheese; this way, the mixture will be somewhat stiffer.
- Creme fraiche: To make the spinach roll, I used the typical Romanian/ East European smetana.
- If you cannot find it, you can substitute that with crème fraiche.
- Herbs: Fresh (or frozen) herbs are a must; don't use dried herbs for this spinach roulade; they are not the same; you need that nice and lively aroma of fresh herbs.
How to serve?
- Serve the spinach roll for brunch, at Easter, for instance, or as an appetizer for a dinner party.
- It also makes a nice lunch or dinner with a green salad on the side.
Other Easter Brunch ideas
- Spinach roll:
- 450 g/ 1 lbs packet frozen spinach See note 1
- 100 g/ 3.5 oz/ scant ½ cup smetana/ crème fraiche
- 3 large eggs
- zest of ½ organic lemon
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 80 g/ 2.8 oz/ ⅔ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 170 g/ 6 oz/ 1 ¾ cups grated cheese Gouda
- 200 g/ 7 oz/ scant 1 cup cottage cheese See note 2
- 60 g/ 2 oz/ ¼ cup unsalted butter soft
- 2 tablespoons chopped dill
- 2 tablespoons chopped chives
- fine sea salt and ground black pepper
- Let the frozen spinach thaw in a fine mesh sieve. When the spinach is completely thawed, take handfuls of it and squeeze well to remove the excess water. Chop, if not already chopped. Place in a bowl.
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius/ 360 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking tray of about 25x35 cm/ 10x13 inches with parchment paper.
- Add the smetana or crème fraiche, the lightly beaten eggs, the grated zest of half organic lemon and 1 tablespoon lemon juice to the spinach in the bowl. Mix well with a fork.
- Mix the flour and the baking soda together and add them to the mixture. Stir well.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared tray and spread evenly. Bake for 15 minutes.
- Immediately remove the baked batter from the tray together with the parchment paper. Roll tightly together with the parchment paper. Let cool completely.
- In the meantime, if using regular cottage cheese, let the cottage cheese drain in a fine mesh sieve. Pat a bit dry with kitchen paper and mash it with a fork before adding it to the filling.
- If using dry Turkish fresh cheese, it will be enough to mash it with a fork.
- To make the filling mix together the grated cheese, cottage cheese, soft butter, herbs, salt and pepper to taste.
- When the roll is completely cold, unroll it. Spread the filling evenly on top and roll again, this time without the parchment paper.
- Refrigerate for a few hours until set and slice before serving.
- If using fresh spinach you will need about 700 g/ 1 ½ lbs fresh spinach which you will have to clean, remove the stems and let wilt in a pot. Chop it finely before adding it to the batter.
- I used Turkish fresh cheese, which is drier than regular cottage cheese. If using regular cottage cheese, let it drain well and pat a bit dry with kitchen paper before using it.