There can’t ever be too many spanakopita recipes. In this version, I combined the classic spinach pie filling with tender kourou pastry. As a result, a delicious combination of flavors emerged. Since life is all about options, I made two different versions: mini pies, also known as pitakia in greek and turnovers or hand pies in English. Call them whatever you want because, in the end, they are delicious!
Watch the Video Tutorial Here:
What is Kourou Dough?
Kourou dough is the Greek version of pie pastry. It is tender, flaky, and made with yogurt and olive oil instead of butter. This dough can easily be kneaded together by hand in a large bowl. However, if you own a stand mixer, why not make life easy and take the shortcut? Click here to watch the video and read the chicken turnover recipe to learn how to knead it by hand.
This dough can be used to create both sweet and savory recipes. It’s great as a pie crust and to create melt in your mouth turnovers. Simple and so tasty!
As a matter of fact, I saved some of the spinach pie filling in a small container and refrigerated it for later use so that I can fill some of the turnovers with preserves. They tasted like mini pies and were the perfect accompaniment to my afternoon tea.
How many servings does this recipe make?
The filling is enough to make 2 10-inch round pies or 36 turnovers. You will have to double the recipe of Kourou dough to use up all of the filling. This serving amount might sound like too much but, trust me when I tell you that you will be so happy to have these in your freezer. They keep fresh up to 3 months (both the pie and the turnovers) and are perfect for those busy days or when guests stop by.
You can make 1 pie and 16 turnovers, or 2 pies, or 36 turnovers. I love recipes like this one that can be made ahead and still taste super fresh.
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Assemble the pie(s) and freeze them before baking and also before brushing them with the egg wash. For the large pie, cover it with foil and then wrap it in plastic to keep it as fresh as possible. Both the turnovers and the large pie will keep fresh in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Freeze the turnovers on baking sheets until they are solid then, transfer them to freezer-safe bags/containers to save space and for freshness.
When you’re ready to bake your pies:
The turnovers can be placed on a baking tray that has been lined with parchment paper then, brushed with egg wash and baked in a preheated 350 °F, 180 °C oven until golden. About 35-40 minutes. They do not require thawing.
As for the large pie, do not preheat the oven. Instead, brush some egg wash on the frozen pie and place it on the center rack of your cold oven. Set the oven to 350 °F, 180 °C and bake until the top crust is golden and the filling is bubbling. Ovens vary but, it should take around 1 and 1/2 hours.
Should I cook the spinach before adding it to the filling?
99% of recipes call for cooked spinach. However, I stick to my mom’s method and as the old saying goes “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” I never cook the spinach and my pies always taste extra fresh and so flavorful. A common concern is that the spinach will release too much liquid and cause the pie to become soggy. This has never happened. I’m not a scientist but, I’m guessing that the long cooking time and all of that creamy cheese (both ricotta and feta) prevent that from happening. But, don’t take my word for it, give it a try and see for yourself 🙂
If you’re reading this post and cannot decide between a large pie or the minis, go for the smaller version, the turnovers! This recipe makes a very large batch (36 to be exact) and they’re just perfect for parties, sticking in the kids’ lunchboxes, and for taking to work. I love them!
Especially, if you have a dinner party coming up or maybe you’re invited to a potluck and don’t know what to bring. Skip, the boring potato salad, and show up with these instead. The best part is that theyc an be made weeks ahead of time and then baked in under an hour. What’s not to love about that?
I hope that you give this recipe a try and you let me know what you think. If you do make it, first of all, serve it with some creamy tzatziki on the side, then snap some pictures and share them with me on Facebook and/or Instagram. I absolutely LOVE seeing your recreations and reading your comments!
- For the Kourou dough:
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1 cup Greek Yogurt (strained yogurt) or sour cream
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- For the filling:
- • 1-pound baby spinach leaves, roughly chopped
- • 6 scallions, finely sliced
- • 3 teaspoons dried dill
- • 15 ounces ricotta cheese
- • 1-pound feta cheese, crumbled
- • 3 eggs
- • 1/3 cup olive oil
- • ½ teaspoon salt
- • Black pepper to taste
- Eggwash: 2 egg yolks with 3-4 tablespoons of milk/water
- Make the kourou dough:
- Note: Make a double batch to use up all of the spinach filling.
- Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl and whisk together.
- Combine the olive oil, yogurt, egg, and lemon juice together in a large bowl and whisk together until smooth. The mixture will look curdled but, that’s ok!!
- Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and whisk to combine. Once the mixture becomes too thick to use the whisk, switch to your hands, and knead it until a dough comes together.
- Cover with plastic or with a kitchen towel and set aside at room temperature to rest for 30 minutes.
- Make the filling:
- Combine the feta cheese, ricotta, eggs, oil, salt, pepper, and dill in a tabletop mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat until combined.
- Add the scallions and beat until combined.
- While the mixer is running on low add a handful of chopped spinach at a time until all of the spinach is incorporated.
- Mix everything together with a spatula and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 400 °F, 200 °C.
- Lightly grease your work surface with olive oil. This will help the pastry roll out very easily.
- Cut the dough into two equal portions. Cut each portion into 8 pieces.
- Roll each portion out into a ball.
- Gently roll out each ball into a 5-inch round circle. You can do this using your fingertips to press the dough gently out into a circle. Use a rolling pin if you prefer doing it that way but do not add any flour to the dough otherwise, it will become dry and tough.
- Place a tablespoon full of the filling onto the rolled-out circles.
- Add some crumbled feta or your favorite cheese, if desired.
- Fold over to cover the filling.
- Gently press the edges together to seal.
- Place the pies onto the prepared baking pan. 8 on each tray.
- Use a fork to press down the edges to create a decorative design.
- Brush the tops of the pies with the egg wash
- Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden.
- Halfway through baking, rotate the trays. Place the bottom tray on the top rack and the top tray on the bottom for even baking.
- Serve warm. Enjoy!
The turnovers can be stored in the freezer (before they are baked) for up to 3 months. Place the filled pastries onto a baking tray and chill them in the freezer until they are hard. Transfer them into freezer-safe bags/containers. It is better to freeze them without the egg wash. When ready to bake, place the frozen pastries onto a baking tray(s) lined with parchment paper, brush with egg wash and bake in a preheated 350 °F oven until golden. About 40 minutes. They do not have to be thawed. They can be baked frozen. For the pie, wrap it with foil and then with plastic. It will keep fresh in the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready to bake, place it in a cold oven and then set the temperature to 350 °F. Bake for 1 and 1/2 hours or until golden and the filling is bubbling.