Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Spanakopita & Manitaropita

Price: $3.99 each (12 pieces each)
Features: Crispy filo, tasty filling, surprisingly healthy
Found in: Frozen prepared foods section

Both the classic Spanakopita and the previously unknown to me Manitaropita follow the same principle: Wrap filo dough around a filling and make flaky golden-brown-and-delicious triangles that can be enjoyed as an appetizer or as the main part of a meal.

You probably know that classic Greek Spanakopita is filled with a mixture of chopped spinach and ricotta cheese. Trader Joe's Manitaropita are filled with hearty and earthy mushrooms in a white wine cream sauce. The mushroom filling is richer than the spinach, but both are quite good!

Each package comes with 12 triangles in an aluminum tray which you can pop straight in the oven from frozen and bake them until crispy. Convenient, except the two types bake at different temperatures for different lengths of time. I cheated a bit and baked them together at a middle temperature for most of the time, giving the mushroom ones a 10 minute head start.

These are surprisingly healthy! Actually, they have far less salt than most prepared foods from TJ's, and very little fat, saturated fat, or cholesterol. I was expecting a lot higher fat content given the buttery filo dough. I guess filo is less rich than puff pastry...

The only reason I didn't give them 5-stars is because the flavors are not quite where I think they could be. Maybe add some garlic to the Spanakopita and some caramelized onions to the Manitaropita? Whatever, I am being picky. Far better than frozen entrees you get at most places, both in terms of healthy eating and value. So, go get yourself some of these tasty triangles!

Almond in the Coconut

Price: $2.99
Features: "Crunchy almonds and a creamy coconut center enrobed in milk chocolate"
Found in: Chocolate covered stuff shelves

Hmm, enrobed in chocolate. Is there anything better? I like that word: enrobed. Ahh...it sounds comfy. Anyway, these little guys are basically Almond Joy bites with the almonds chopped up and mixed into the filling. I always liked Almond Joy because of the coconut - though I did have a Mounds phase as well.

These are great, you get a pretty good number in each package, they are decently cheap, and last a while because you have to chew on the coconut before you can eat another. The only gripe I have with them is that the chocolate enrobing is super sweet, even for a milk chocolate. So there goes half a star. No matter, I will continue to buy these when the mood strikes. Plus, they have a clever name. Can't resist that!