Friday, June 24, 2016

Spanakopita (Greek Spinach Pie)

This savory spinach and feta filled pastry can be served as a snack or appetizer in the form of bite-sized individual triangle-shaped pastries or baked as a pie in a casserole dish. Either way, phyllo dough sheets (readily available in the freezer section of your fav supermarket) are used for the pastry portion. I adapted the following recipe from the cookbook The Best International Recipe by the editors of Cook's Illustrated.


Filling Ingredients:
1/2 lb. (2 cups) crumbled feta cheese
16 oz. (2 cups) whole milk ricotta cheese
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 bunch scallions, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
2 tbsp. minced fresh parsley
4 medium cloves garlic, minced
Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tbsp.)
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. kosher salt
2 lbs. frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry  

2 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese

1/2 lb. frozen phyllo dough, thawed in the refrigerator
3/4 cup olive oil

1. Add all of the filling ingredients together in a bowl. Stir gently together until combined (mixture can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days before using).


1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 400F. Brush olive oil liberally on the bottom and sides of a 13" x 9" casserole. 

2. Place one sheet of phyllo pastry on the bottom of the pan (if the sheet is not large enough to cover the bottom, just cut some extra pieces to fit).

3. Brush the top of the sheet with olive oil.

4. Layer another phyllo pastry sheet on top and brush with oil. Continue layering sheets and brushing each with oil, for a total of 8 phyllo sheets. 

5. Spread half of the spinach mixture over the phyllo sheets. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp. of grated parmesan. 

6. Layer 4 sheets of phyllo over the mixture, brushing each with olive oil.

7. Spread over the remaining half of the spinach mixture and sprinkle with 1 tbsp. grated parmesan.

8. Layer with seven more sheets of phyllo, brushing each with olive oil.

9. Score the top 3 layers of phyllo with a sharp knife to form individual serving squares (don't cut all the way through the phyllo sheets). This will help you to cut the pastry after it's baked. 

10. Bake the casserole for 30-35 minutes, rotating the casserole halfway through cooking to ensure even browning. Bake until the phyllo is a light golden brown.

11. Remove the casserole from the oven and let cool 10-15 minutes or several hours to room temperature. 

Dish can be wrapped and refrigerated for up to 4 days. Best eaten at room temp or reheated at 350F. 

 Fresh dill, feta cheese, whole milk ricotta cheese, and chopped frozen spinach.

 Additional ingredients: 3 lightly beaten eggs, salt, pepper, nutmeg, lemon juice, minced garlic & scallions.

 Combine all filling ingredients together in a bowl.

 "fillo dough" is aka phyllo pastry sheets, found in the freezer section of your local supermarket.

 Each 1 lb. box contains two rolls of pastry sheets. The phyllo should be defrosted in the frig (a couple hours or overnight). Do not microwave or leave out at room temperature.

 Brush the casserole dish well (bottom and sides) with olive oil.

 Place one sheet of pastry on top and brush well with more olive oil. Continue layering, brushing with oil each time, until you have a total of 8 layers.

 Spread half of the spinach-cheese mixture over the top and sprinkle with a tablespoon of grated parmesan.

 Place four more sheets of phyllo on top of the spinach mixture, brushing each with olive oil. Top with the remaining spinach mixture and sprinkle one more tbsp. of grated parmesan on top.

 Layer 7 more sheets of phyllo on top of the 2nd layer of spinach mixture, brushing each with olive oil. Using a sharp knife, lightly score the top of the phyllo (no more than 3 sheets deep, if possible) into serving-sized squares.

 Bake in a preheated 400F oven on the middle rack for 30-35 minutes, rotating halfway through the cooking time, until golden brown. Let the casserole cool on a rack for 15 minutes or even several hours (to room temperature) before serving.

Spanakopita can be eaten as is, but is also great served with a side of Tzatziki  
(a Greek yogurt cucumber-dill sauce).


1. Use the same recipe for pie except reduce quantities by half and use 1 lb. instead of 1/2 lb. of phyllo dough.

2. Adjust oven racks to the upper and lower middle positions. Preheat oven to 375F. 

3. Place one phyllo sheet on a flat surface and brush thoroughly with olive oil. Top with a second sheet and brush with oil. Cut each sheet in half, lengthwise.

4. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling on the bottom left-hand corner of one of the strips. Fold over to form a triangle, and continue folding over to the end of the strip. Brush the top with oil and place on a 2-parchment paper-lined baking sheet, seam side down. Repeat with the remaining phyllo and filling.*

5. Bake for about 20 minutes, rotating halfway through, or until the phyllo is lightly golden.

*NOTE: Unbaked pastries triangles can be frozen - place in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze for about 1 hour; place the frozen pastries in a Ziplock-type bag and freeze for up to a month. Bake at 375F (do not thaw before baking) for 20 minutes or until golden.

 Brush a sheet of phyllo with olive oil, then layer with a second sheet and brush with oil again. 

 Place a heaping tablespoon of filling on the lower left hand corner of each phyllo strip.

 Fold the phyllo over the filling in the shape of a triangle and continue folding the same way up until you reach the top end of the strip. 

Place the triangles over two sheets of parchment paper lining a baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes on the middle and lower racks of the oven (for two baking sheets) at 375F, rotating the baking sheet halfway through cooking. Remove and let cool before serving. 

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