Continuing on the theme of the most well-known (and delicious) Greek recipes, here’s my version of one of the number 31 pies- in this case, spanakopita. What spanakopita is, is essentially a spinach & feta cheese pie, made with phyllo pastry. Now, if you have the time & the inclination, you can make the phyllo yourself- and this is something many Greeks do at home, as a matter of course (and knowing how to make home-made phyllo is considered a wonderful, useful skill to have). Even though home-made phyllo tastes waaaaaaay better than the ready-made (frozen) version, sold at supermarkets, the recipe I offer uses ready-made, because- in the spirit of honesty- that’s what I use myself when I make spanakopita at home. Using home-made or ready-made phyllo takes cooking spanakopita in two completely different directions. In the first case, we’re talking of a lovingly, painstakingly produced home-made pie which you can feel very proud of (and here you can find a very good recipe for spanakopita, including directions on how to make your own phyllo dough). In the second case, we’re talking of a delicious everyday meal which you can make at the spur of the moment.
My version of spanakopita
- 500 gr. ready-made phyllo (usually sold in the supermarket, at the frozen food section)
- Extra virgin olive oil (to oil the phyllo)
- 2-3 onions, finely chopped
- 1 bunch of spring onions, finely chopped
- frozen or fresh spinach (hard to say how much. Probably 3 bunches of fresh spinach or half a large bag of frozen. But you have to play it by ear here & go by experience)
- fresh herbs: parsley, mint, dill, whatever you have or prefer; dill is more traditional, but I’ve used various combinations & all have worked (all of them chopped finely)
- 2-3 eggs
- 500 gr. feta cheese (again, you’ll have to play it by ear about the exact amount; you want a good balance of spinach & feta)
- 3 loaded tablespoons ricotta cheese
- 2-3 large tablespoons greek yoghurt
- Black pepper to taste
- Some freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
- a bit of extra virgin olive oil, not too much (for the filling)
- some dry herbs (optional)- e.g. dried mint, dried dill, or dried parsley
- Preheat the oven to 180-200 degrees celsius
- Sautee the onions, spring onions & spinach until softened & wilted. Towards the end, add the fresh herbs & cook a couple of minutes more
- Put the spinach & onion mixture in a colander & let it drain, so that there’s no water, & until it cools a little. Put aside
- In a large bowl, mix the eggs (beaten) with the feta cheese, which you’ve crumbled with your hands
- Add the ricotta & greek yoghurt
- Add pepper, nutmeg, a bit of olive oil & perhaps the dried herbs (if using)
- In a large pyrex dish, place 5-6 pieces of phyllo, oiling each one as you go. Put the mixture of spinach & cheese on top, & then put 5-6 pieces of phyllo on top. Oil the top of the pie with extra virgin olive oil
- If you want, at this stage (before putting the pie in the oven) cut the spanakopita with a sharp knife in pieces so that after it’s cooked it can be cut more easily
- Cook in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, or until the top of the spanakopita is reddish / golden.
- Cool for a bit, & then eat. In my personal opinion, this is nicer eaten after a couple of hours, not straight from the oven, but others disagree!
Here are some other versions of spanakopita:
- Elly’s cheater’s version of spanakopita sounds and looks delicious. She uses- like I do- ready made phyllo.
- Ivy offers a version of ‘spanakopitakia‘ which are small, triangle-shaped spanakopitas. These are very quick & easy to make and, I’m sure, delicious. And here’s Ivy’s own version of spanakopita.
- I already mentioned Kalofagas’ version of authentic, with cooked-from-scratch-phyllo, spanakopita. But here’s the link again, in case you missed it.
- Maria’s takes spanakopita in 2 different directions. First, she offers a wonderfully described recipe of pie mixed with all sorts of greens (including spinach). She then also offers a self-crusting version of spanakopita, with no phyllo pastry at all. I’m definitely going to try this soon!
- Last but not least, here’s a very interesting, completely different, version of spanakopita, a palestinian spanakopita, which I found in Laurie’s blog.