Spanakopita has got to be one of the most well known Greek dishes on the planet. Every Greek restaurant makes their own version of this (or sometimes warms up a pre packaged frozen kind....frown). It's light and flaky phyllo crust is delicious and compliments the creamy filling perfectly.
I definitely grew up eating this in various forms. As little appetizer sized traingles, as main course sized squares.... Make it and serve it however you prefer, but the key phrase here is: "make it!" because everyone will love you more for it :) Trust me. This is a real crowd pleaser.
Here's what you will need to make this delectable dish:
2 packs phyllo dough, at room temperature
1 pound or 3 bunches baby spinach, chopped
2 bunches fresh dill, finely chopped
about 6 scallions, thinly sliced
about 15 ounces ricotta cheese, full fat and at room temperature
1 pound feta cheese, crumbled
4 eggs, beaten and at room temperature
about 2 cups olive oil or melted butter
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Here are some very important tips before we go on:
1) I can't stress enough how important it is that the phyllo stays in it's packaging until it is at room temperature!!!!! Very important. The best way to do this is by defrosting it overnight in your refrigerator (since it's usually sold in the freezer section). Take it out in the morning or at least 2 hours before you use it and leave it in it's packaging to come to room temperature. Do not take it out of the air tight plastic packaging that comes in!!! It will be completely useless if it sits out for a long time, it will crumble and nothing will save it :(
2) Please do not use low fat, fat free or any other form of cheese (ricotta or feta). That stuff should be illegal if you ask me. It tastes horrible and it doesn't help to shed pounds.
3)If you cannot find fresh dill, you may use the dried form, but less. So for this recipe, if using dried dill, use about 2 tablespoons or enough to suit your taste.
4) Add the eggs to your mixture last so that you can adjust the seasoning if you're worried about consuming raw egg.
5) Baby spinach is very easy to find over here where I live. It comes in all different amounts. You can buy regular spinach that is sold in bunches. Just make sure to wash it very well. Baby spinach is really convenient since it is already washed and ready to use. That said, use what you can find.
6) This recipe makes a pretty big batch of triangle appetizer sized spinach pies (about 40-46). If you don't need that many, freeze them before baking. Just wrap the tray that they are made in with lots of plastic wrap and they will stay fresh for about 1 month in the freezer. I actually double this recipe when I'm making them and freeze as many as I can for those times when I'm swamped with work and don't have time to cook :) Baking time will be longer. Keep reading, I will mention it on the bottom ;)
Now that we've got that down, we're ready to prepare this batch of deliciousness!
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Combine the chopped spinach, dill, scallions, ricotta and feta cheese in a large bowl and using your very clean hands, mix very well. Knead it, crush it and keep mixing until everything is combined well.
Taste the mixture and add as much salt and pepper as you like.
Add the beaten eggs and about 1 cup of olive oil and mix well.
Place a sheet of parchment paper (for easy clean up) on the bottom of 2 half sheet baking pans.
Take your phyllo dough out of it's box and cut it into 3 equal pieces (while it's still wrapped it plastic).
Take 2 strips of phyllo at a time and place a tablespoon of filling on the bottom. Fold it up, flag style just like in the tiropita recipe: http://www.dimitrasdishes.com/1/post/2014/03/tiropita-cheese-pie.html
Sometimes the phyllo sticks together. You don't have to be precise and fight with it to stick to the 2 layers of phyllo rule. I promise, if you roll it up with 3 layers or even 4, it will taste just as good or maybe better ;)
Keep going until you run out of filling.
Traditionally, oil or melted butter is brushed between each layer and you can do it that way, but I found a shortcut! And who doesn't like shortcuts? Pour enough olive oil over the prepare spinach pie triangles (about 1/2 cup or more) to coat them and brush it all over with a pastry brush so that they are all coated and some oil seeps in between them. This steps saves a lot of time which makes life easier :)
Bake them for about 25 minutes or until nice and golden. Serve with tzatziki or as is. Enjoy :)
FROZEN spinach pie baking instructions:
To bake the frozen spinach pies, just take off the plastic wrap and pour and brush olive oil over them just like we did for the freshly made pies. Do not thaw them out!!!
Cover with foil. Tent the foil so that it does not stick on the top layer of phyllo. It's a good idea to brush some oil on the foil as well or to spray some cooking spray to prevent sticking.
Bake covered with foil in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes or until nice and golden.
Another way to make this delicious dish is in real "Pie" form like in my zucchini pie recipe: http://www.dimitrasdishes.com/1/post/2014/03/kolokythopita-zucchini-pie.html
Just follow the same instructions filling it with the spinach filling and VOILA! Another way to eat this as a main course :)
Make this, share the recipe with your friends and family and post your questions and comments below :)
Hi, I'm Dimitra and welcome to my blog! Here, I'll teach you just how much fun and easy it is to please a crowd with my versions of Greek classics. Kali Orexi as we say in Greek!