Spanakopita

Or Greek Spinach Pie. I’ve been making this for years and it’s always great.  It looks spectacular but it’s really, really easy.  It’s versatile in that you can have it hot, warm or cold, serve it with salad (especially something red or orange like beetroot or tomato), or with vegetables (again, something bright like carrots are good), cut it up into small pieces and have it as party finger-food or cut it into smaller squares and have in a lunch box. It also freezes well.

About the ingredients:

  • This is one of the very few recipes where it’s OK – more than OK – not to make your own pastry. Filo pastry can be bought in supermarkets and it’s fine, but the best is the one you get in Middle Eastern shops.
  • The best kind of spinach to use is home-grown or – again – the stuff you buy in Middle Eastern shops.   If you only have a supermarket to shop in then try to get the normal spinach, not the baby stuff as those tiny little baby leaves aren’t robust enough and are better used in salads.   You can also use chard.
  • As this is a Greek recipe it should be made with feta cheese but I actually prefer the mixture of ricotta and cheddar or some other hard cheese. 

Fresh Spinach

Ingredients:

  • Medium onion
  • 450g spinach, of which 125g stalks and 325g leaves
  • 250g ricotta
  • 100g other cheese (cheddar, parmesan, wensleydale etc)
  • 1 egg
  • 1tsp dill seed
  • Salt and pepper
  •  230g filo pastry
  • 100g butter, melted

 Hardware:

  • A big pan for the spinach mixture.  
  • A small pan for melting butter.
  •  Square/rectangular ovenproof dish or tin, 24cm square.  
  • Pastry brush.

Preheat oven to 190ºC.  

Chop the onion nice and small, soften in the oil in the big saucepan over low to medium heat until transparent. If you’re using big spinach, wash it all well and chop the stalks finely then add to the spinach. Put the lid on and let the spinach cook right down (about five to ten minutes), giving it the odd stir now and then if you like.

Let the mixture cool a little then add the ricotta, cheese, egg, dill seed and salt and pepper. Mix well.

Spanakopita filling

Unfold the pastry so it’s in sheets you can handle. Using the pastry brush, paint the bottom and sides of the tin with melted butter and lay a sheet of pastry over. It’s good that it hangs over the sides because you’re going to fold it over the top later. Paint this first sheet with more butter and put another sheet on top at 90degrees to the first. Continue layering about two thirds of the pastry sheets, painting each one generously with butter in between. It really doesn’t need to look neat, because as long as you stick any stray bits down with more butter it’s all going to be a lovely buttery golden delight.

Buttery Pastry

Put the filling on the pastry, spread it out to make it even. Then continue with the rest of the sheets of pastry, putting plenty of butter in between each layer and letting them hang over the edges. When you’ve finished all the pastry start folding the edges back into the middle, buttering as you go. It’s a bit like making a giant pass the parcel. If you haven’t used up all the butter then give the top a good painting once you’ve finished.

Spanakopita ready

Bake in the over for about 30-40 minutes. It should be medium to dark golden (not brown). And lush.

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