Spanakopita is a Greek Spinach and Feta pie. You can make it into individual triangles or in a large pie which is perfect for serving a large crowd. It can be eaten hot or room temperature. My husband loves it so I made some and I also froze some to have ready whenever he has a hankering for some more.
You will need:
- 2 x 500gram bags of chopped spinach – thawed and squeezed to remove moisture
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil – I used Lucero Koroneiki Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 6 spring onions
- 1/3 cup chopped parsley
- 1 tbsp fresh dill
- 2 eggs
- 20 oz/ 600 gr. = 1.3 pounds feta cheese -buy Greek Feta if you can get it (it is better!)
- 1/2 cup ricotta
- 1/2 lemon juiced plus 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
- freshly grated pepper
- 1/4 cup olive oil or more for brushing phyllo
- 8 sheets phyllo pastry for pie- more for individual triangles (thaw according to directions)
Step 1: take 2 bags of frozen spinach, thaw and drain over a sieve. In paper towels or a clean tea towel squeeze the spinach of as much water as possible. Place in a large bowl.
Step 2: in a food processor add onions and garlic and puree until finely diced. In a small saute pan cook onions and garlic for 5 minutes in some good quality olive oil. I have used Lucero Koroneiki which is a typical olive found in Greece although this lovely oil is from California. I normally find Greek olive oil very mild but, I love this one from Lucero because it has a bit more flavour than the typical.
Step 3: add spring onions, parsley (flat Italian is always better than curly leaf) dill, and feta blocks. Process until crumbled.
Step 4: add cheese and herbs to bowl with drained/squeezed spinach. Add eggs, ricotta cheese, your cooked onions and garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice and some freshly grated nutmeg. Mix well to combine.
Step 5: in a medium sized pyrex/glass baking dish brush bottom and sides with olive oil. I have used a smaller pyrex dish just because I wanted to make both a pie and triangles with my mix however, if you just wanted to make the pie (which is the easiest method and much faster than triangles!) use a larger baking dish. The perfect sized dish/tray is the size of a sheet of phyllo dough (pronounced FEE-LOW not FY-LOW) folded in half. This way you place half an open sheet of dough on your pan, brush with oil and fold perfectly in place, then brush again etc. I used 4 sheets for the bottom, folded in half which equals 8 layers of phyllo dough on the bottom.
Step 6: add a generous layer of your spinach filling. Add some fresh cracked pepper to the top (you wont need any salt since the feta is salty.
Step 7: repeat the process again with the next 4 layers of phyllo. Place a half a sheet over the filling, brush with oil, fold, brush with oil. Place another sheet over and repeat until you have placed the last four which will equal another 8 layers. You can trim the edges to make a nice looking tray (and of course if you use the larger pan which fits perfectly you will not need to trim)
Step 8: you can freeze 10 minutes and then carefully slice with a sharp knife into pieces ( this needs to be done before baking- you can re-slice after baking – IMPORTANT! you need to pre-slice) I try not to press down too hard or avoid tearing the phyllo. At this stage you can freeze the whole thing or bake in a 350 F. oven until browned and flaky approximately 30 minutes (but watch it towards the end to avoid burning)
If you are making triangles then slice plyllo dough into 3 evenly divided strips (lengthwise) (keep unused strips covered with a slightly damp cloth to avoid drying out. Take one strip and brush lightly with olive oil. Place a few tbsp of filling on one edge. Fold as you would fold a flag, from side to side. Seal with olive oil. Place on a tray and freeze completely separated or bake right away until flaky, approximately 15 minutes.
Eat while hot or warm to enjoy pastry at its flakiest. It will get soft over time but, you can always reheat in the oven slightly to get the pastry flaky again.