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Easy Spanakopita (Greek Spinach Pie)
This is one of my favorite recipes. Crisp and flaky with a savory spinach and feta filling. My partner first began making this some years ago (she'd kill me if I told you how many) and it is always a hit.
She learned to make it after we went crazy for it after first tasting it while having dinner at the home of a friend. He had recently married a Greek woman who graciously shared her recipe and technique. For better or worse, their marriage did not last that long, but the Spanakopita has been part of our lives ever since that day.
Of course, she made it with fresh spinach and actually made the filo from scratch, but having neither the time nor talent for doing that, we were happy to discover that you could buy the filo frozen and ready to use once defrosted -- and frozen spinach worked great too.
This dish looks a lot harder to make than it is and doesn't take long at all once you get the hang of it. You can also wrap filling in long strips of filo folded into triangular pockets for individual finger-food style hors d'oeuvres.
Prep Time: 20 to 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 1/2 hours
Serves: Approximately 24 as side dish or appetizer
- FOR PASTRY:
- 1 Package (1 lb.) Frozen Phyllo (Filo) Pastry, defrosted as per package instructions
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 stick unsalted butter or margarine
- FOR FILLING:
- 16 to 24 ounces frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and drained
- 3/4 to 1 pound feta cheese, crumbled
- 6 eggs, lightly beaten
- Dill (to taste)
- Garlic Powder (to taste)
- Freshly Ground Pepper (to taste)
- Salt (optional - I find the feta provides enough salt and do not add any additional)
- PREPARATION: Crumble feta into large bowl. Add spinach, eggs, feta and seasonings. Mix thoroughly. Set aside.
- Pour oil into a small saucepan with stick of butter. Heat over low flame until butter is melted. Set aside, preferably on hot plate to keep warm.
- Open filo dough and lay flat on wax paper. Cover with slightly damp cloth to keep from drying out as you work.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
ASSEMBLE & BAKE:
- Using a pastry brush, generously coat bottom and sides of 9x13x2 inch baking pan with oil and butter mixture.
- Carefully peel off one sheet of filo dough and line pan with it, fitting carefully into corners and allowing pastry to overlap edges.
Do not worry if the sheet tears - just do the best you can. It will turn out fine even if this is your first attempt using filo.
- Sprinkle or lightly brush entire sheet with melted oil and butter.
NOTE: I only apply oil/butter every 2nd or 3rd sheet and then sprinkle lightly. This works just as well as doing every sheet and cuts the fat content by as much.
- Repeat until 1/3 of filo sheets have been used. Do not oil the last sheet.
- Make sure spinach mixture is well mixed and pour into pan. Cover the filo with mixture being sure to get filling into the corners.
6. Take another sheet of filo and lay on top of filling. Oil and repeat until all sheets have been used. Sprinkle edges of filo with oil and carefully roll and tuck edges (See photo).
Do not worry if it is a little brittle and breaks up, just do the best you can and include all pieces - it is all good. Generously oil the top and sides of filo crust.
7. Bake in 350 degree oven for approximately 45 to 60 minutes until golden brown. Place on rack to cool a little. Cut into approximately 2x2 inch squares with a sharp knife. Place squares on platter and serve warm.
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