Raise your hand if you hated spinach as a kid or if you still do..
I was one of those kids who wouldn’t get with in a mile of anything that contained spinach.
Mum only made spinach in soup form and despite the fact that my mum was and still is a very talented cook and baker, there weren’t enough Popeye episodes to convince me to try that green soup.
Blissfully taste buds evolve and one of the perks of being a parent is that you have to abide by the rules if you want your kids to do the same. How on earth would my kids “Taste the food in front of you at least once before deciding that you hate it “ if their mum hates spinach and wouldn’t get near it?!
After so many trials and errors, pinterest boards, recipes that worked and those that the birds got to enjoy,recommendations from friends and family. I now love spinach! It is on my shopping list almost every week.
So when my best friend’s friend sent me this Greek spinach pie recipe, I couldn’t wait to try it out.
I have eaten spanakopita on numerous occasions but I have never tried to make it at home. Thanks to William, that has changed and I will definitely be making it again and again.
I will leave it to William to tell you about himself and the recipe 🙂
My name is William King and I am a science researcher by profession. I currently live in the Atlanta metropolitan area but have also lived in the New York and Washington, DC metropolitan areas. The 1st ancestor on my mother’s side who immigrated to the United States came into the city of New Orleans from France in the late 18th century as part of the French King’s Continental Army! It is interesting to know that in the many generations since that time, the vast majority of my relatives are still located within approximately an hour’s drive of that city!
I enjoy a range of cuisines and it is important to me to travel and I have, to date, been to Canada, Mexico, Western Europe, Thailand and South Korea and to 33 states of the United States.
Spanakopita is a dish that I liken to a good movie – you can watch the movie again and enjoy it as much as you did before. It’s a rustic pie; a feel-good comfort food with simple, fresh ingredients. I first happened upon this dish at a take-away restaurant when I was working on The National Mall in Washington, DC, when I first moved there and I have made it myself since that time. The addition of nuts to the mixture (ideally toasted beforehand so that their flavor is enhanced) is an important part of the recipe as it adds dimension to the dish and introduces a different texture and flavor. I specifically use range-free eggs, which cost more than the standard eggs but I am glad to forgo a single drink at Starbucks in order to have them!
Spanakopita or spinach pie is a Greek savory pastry. It is in the Börek family of pastries found in the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire. It can be eaten as a snack or a meal and either fresh from the oven or at room temperature. It keeps for several days – just put it in the oven to warm and to crisp the crust.
Tips and substitutions:
To prevent the phyllo from drying out while using it, cover with plastic wrap and/or a damp towel.
Drying the spinach before cooking helps reduce the associated ‘sogginess’ of this dish. Frozen spinach may be substituted for fresh spinach, just squeeze the water out.
Variations to this dish would involve using other white, fresh, preferably salted cheeses that may also be mixed with, or substituted for, the feta cheese. The spinach amount may be reduced and missing amount substituted with leeks, chard or sorrel and it can also be made using puff pastry instead of phyllo dough.
If desired, add a 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg to the filling.
The raw dish freezes very well. Remove from freezer and put directly into the oven and add some extra cooking time (20-30 minutes).
This dish may also be made into triangles. Work with 2 sheets of phyllo dough. Place long side of dough in front of you, slice into 6 strips (approximately 12×3′), put a heaping teaspoon of filling and fold corner of dough over filling to form a triangle. Continue folding strip like a flag maintaining a triangle shape. Put seam side down, brush with olive oil and bake. Because triangles are smaller than an entire pie, cooking time is reduced to 20-25 minutes. The triangles also freeze very well, which is great to have if company comes unexpectedly or if you want a snack. Freeze triangles in a single layer before putting them into a freezer container so that they maintain their shape. Place frozen triangles directly into oven to bake (do not thaw).
Spanakopita (Greek Spinach Pie)
3 tablespoons olive oil or butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds fresh spinach, rinsed and coarsely chopped
½ cup chopped fresh Italian (flat leaf) parsley
2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup ricotta cheese
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
½ cup chopped pecans or pignolias
8 sheets phyllo dough (this tastes even better with homemade phyllo)
¼ cup olive oil
pot or pan sufficient in size to contain all the raw spinach
9×9 inch square baking pan
Optional salad: cucumber, tomato, and onion with dill and seasoned rice wine vinegar
Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly butter or oil a 9×9 inch square baking pan.
Heat over medium heat 3 tablespoons butter or olive oil in a pot sufficient in size to contain all the raw spinach and sauté the onion, green onions and garlic until soft and lightly browned.
Stir in spinach and parsley, and continue to sauté until spinach is limp, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside in order to cool.
Lay 1 sheet of phyllo dough over the prepared baking pan and brush lightly with olive oil. The sheet should cover the sides and overlap the pan.
Lay another sheet of phyllo dough on top at a 90 degree angle to the first, brush with olive oil, and repeat process with two more sheets of phyllo for a total of 4 sheets.
If you like your phyllo to be extra crunchy, brush every other layer
In a medium bowl, mix together eggs, ricotta, feta and nuts.
Stir in cooled spinach mixture (if spinach mixture is pipping hot when added to the cheese mixture, the eggs will cook prematurely).
Spread spinach and cheese mixture into pan and fold the overhanging dough over the filling.
Lay a sheet of phyllo dough on top, brush with olive oil, and repeat process for a total of 4 sheets.The sheets should overlap the pan.
Tuck overhanging dough into the sides of the pan to seal the filling.
Cut with a sharp knife
Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, ~30 to 40 minutes. Cut into squares and serve while hot.
Serve Spanakopita with a cucumber, tomato, and onion salad with seasoned rice wine vinegar and dill.