Greece – Spanakopita
After a one day break, today we stop in the Mediterranean country of Greece to taste a savory pastry. I made spanakopita, spinach pie for this country. In Greek, a pie is called pita. This is a savory pastry made with phyllo (filo) sheets. The filling used is spinach, feta cheese, scallions and eggs. Phyllo sheets are used for the cover, that is for for the base and top of the pie. Spanakopita can be baked in a dish and then cut into wedges or can be folded into triangles and then baked. Spanakopita is usually served as an appetizer but can also be eaten as regular meal, as I did for lunch.
Working with phyllo sheets has always been tricky for me until I read this post on how to handle phyllo sheets. The key is to keep the sheets covered with damp cloth to keep the sheets from drying out. I made a small pie in a rectangular dish.
Source: About Food
Total Time: 45 minutes
Preparation: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 25 minutes
- 2 tbsp. Olive Oil
- ¾ – 1 cup Onion chopped or ½ large Onion chopped
- ½ bunch or ¾ – 1 cup chopped Green Onions ~ Scallions
- 9 oz. or 255 grams Spinach chopped or about 4 ½ – 5 cups chopped (I used prewashed spinach)
- 2 tbsp. Parsley, chopped
- 2 tbsp. Dill, chopped or ¾ tsp. dried Dill
- Dash of Nutmeg Powder (Dash is 1/16 tsp.)
- ½ tsp. Black Pepper Powder (adjust to taste)
- ¼ – ½ tsp. Salt (adjust to taste and also mind you feta is a salty cheese)
- 2 oz. or approx. 2 tbsp. Feta Cheese, crumbled
- 2 tbsp. Ricotta Cheese (can substitute with cottage cheese)
- 1 Egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tbsp. Butter, melted
- 1 tbsp. Olive Oil
- ½ – 2/3 lb. Phyllo Pastry Sheets or 10 – 12 Sheets (thaw the sheets overnight in the fridge or follow the instructions on the box)
- Wash and drain all the water from spinach. Chop spinach and keep it aside. If using frozen chopped spinach, thaw completely and squeeze out excess water. I used pre-washed spinach and did not have to worry about drying the spinach.
- Heat oil in a pan and sauté onion and green onions until onions are translucent.
- Add spinach, parsley, dill and cook until the spinach wilts and the liquids evaporate. This should take about 5 – 10 minutes. It took 5 minutes with dry prewashed spinach.
- Add nutmeg, salt and pepper, and mix well. Cook for another 2 – 3 minutes until spinach becomes dry.
- Remove from fire and let cool.
- Preheat oven 350F.
- Melt butter, about 20 seconds in the microwave and mix it with olive oil.
- Mix crumbled feta, ricotta cheese and lightly beaten egg. Add this to spinach and mix to combine all the ingredients.
- Take 5” X 7” baking dish and lightly grease it with butter olive oil mixture. I used pyrex 3 cup rectangular dish.
- Using a scissors cut 12 phyllo sheets in half to make two 9” x 7” stack of sheets. I used Athens brand and the sheets were 9″ x 14″. There was another brand that had longer sheets.
- To prevent the sheets from drying, cover one stack of sheets with wax paper and a damp kitchen towel or paper towel while working with the other stack of sheets.
- Layer one stack of sheets at the bottom of the pan, brushing each sheet with butter olive oil mixture. Do not stack all the sheets as it is. Carefully remove one sheet from the stack, place it in the dish, brush it with butter oil mixture. Now place the second sheet on top of the first. Brush the 2nd sheet with butter oil mixture and them place the 3rd sheet. Repeat the process until all the sheets from the first stack (12 sheets) are layered in the dish.
- Add spinach cheese mixture on top of the sheets and flatten it.
- Cover the spinach with other stack of sheets, brushing each sheet with butter oil mixture.
- Fold the edges of the phyllo sheets on to the pie; carefully score the pie to make it easier when cutting into pieces later.
- Bake in a preheated oven for 25 minutes until golden brown. Temperatures vary from oven to oven. One may have to bake longer depending on the oven temperature.
- Cut the spanakopita and serve. I liked mine as it is but it can be served with some hot sauce or yogurt dip.
- For double the recipe, use a 9″ x 12″ pan and if using Athens brand, then you need not cut the sheets into two. I used a rectangular pan but a pie dish or a round pan can also be used.
- To make triangles, check Chef in You recipe.
- The pie was properly baked but felt I should have baked a little longer for that golden brown look.