Spanakopita is a delicious dish from Greece made from phyllo (or ‘filo’) pastry, spinach and feta cheese. It’s a great option for when your entertaining vegetarian guests and it’s one of these dishes that look impressive whilst being very simple to put together.
Don’t be put off by the use of phyllo pastry either. I used to be worried about using phyllo pastry as the process of brushing each sheet with olive oil seemed a bit fiddly but it’s actually a very forgiving product. Even if you tear a few sheets as you handle them it won’t show in the final product. Another trick I picked up from a friend is to ‘pre-cut’ the pie before cooking it – it not only looks pretty but it also makes the serving process that much easier!
Bon appetit x
12 sheets of phyllo (filo) pastry
1 kg of fresh spinach, hard stems discarded, remaining leaves cleaned and chopped
220g of feta cheese, crumbled
6 spring onions, chopped up (use both white and the green parts)
1 brown onion, chopped
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbs of chopped dill (or a parsley/mint mix if you don’t like dill)
1/2 cup of olive oil
Greek yogurt to serve (optional)
Shortcuts: Use 600g of pre-washed spinach leaves to save on time and chopping. You can also use frozen spinach (just make sure you squeeze out the excess water once thawed).
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
For the filling:
1. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Saute the green and brown onions until soft and lightly brown. Add the dill and spinach leaves and cook for a few more minutes until the spinach has wilted and is a deep green color. Transfer to a colander placed over a sink and gently press on the spinach mixture with a spatula to get rid of the excess liquid (this will prevent the pie from being soggy). Leave mixture to cool for 5 min.
3. In a large bowl mix the feta and the beaten egg with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the spinach and mix thoroughly.
To assemble the pie:
1. Remove phyllo roll from its plastic sleeve and divide the sheets into two even piles. Cover one pile with a damp towel to prevent it from drying.
2. Brush the base and sides of a baking dish with olive oil. Line the pan with the first sheet of phyllo pastry and brush the top with olive oil. Layer another 5 sheets of phyllo on top of each other making sure to brush each one with olive oil as you go. (nb. If the sheets are bigger than your dish then let the sides hang out for now).
3. Add the spinach mixture and gently spread it with a spoon to create an even layer. Fold in the hanging sides of pastry if there are any. Brush with more olive oil.
4. Layer 5 more phyllo sheets on top of the spinach using the same process as above. Fold in the excess pastry sides again. When topping the pie with the last pastry sheet simply tuck in the sides instead of folding them to create a clean seam (or cut the excess pastry with a kitchen knife).
5. Brush the top layer with olive oil and pre-cut the pie in even squares or triangles before putting the baking dish into the oven.
6. Bake for about 30 min or until nice and golden.
7. Serve warm or cold with greek yoghurt.