Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Spanakopita (pronounced span-a-kō-pee-ta) is commonly referred to as "spinach pie" (at least by us tongue tied Americans). It's usually spinach with feta, eggs and other herbs/spices baked in layers of filo dough. Yum. 

It can be made in either individually wrapped triangles (great for serving as hors d'oeuvres) or as one large "pie" (good for serving as a main course or side dish).

My daughter loved the triangles, so I thought "great, I'll make a pie for dinner."  Turns out to a 5-year-old's taste buds, a rectangle just doesn't taste the same as a triangle. Live and learn. 

Yield: about 40 triangles

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 lb. fresh baby spinach, trimmed, washed and roughly chopped
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 eggs, lightly beaten
12 oz. crumbled feta
3 tablespoons fresh chopped dill
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, toasted and ground
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
1 lb. filo sheets, defrosted
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh oregano
1/4 cup finely chopped chives
1/2 cup grated parmesan

1.      Heat olive oil in a large skillet and place over medium heat. Saute onions and garlic for 3 minutes until soft. Add the spinach, season with salt and pepper, and continue to saute until the spinach is limp, about 2 minutes. Add lemon juice, remove from heat and place in a colander, and squeeze out excess liquid. Set aside to cool. The filling needs to be cool and dry to prevent the filo from becoming soggy. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with feta, dill, coriander, and nutmeg. Season, then fold in the cooled spinach mixture until well blended.
2.      Preheat oven to 350º F.  Brush 2 baking sheets with melted butter. Unroll the filo dough and lay a sheet flat on a work surface. Take care to keep the filo covered with a damp, not wet, towel as you work to prevent drying out and becoming brittle. Brush the sheet with melted butter, then sprinkle evenly with some oregano and chives. Repeat with 2 more sheets of filo, stacking on top of each other. With a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the sheets lengthwise into thirds to form 2 1/2-inch strips. Do this with remaining dough.
3.      Place a heaping teaspoon of filling near 1 corner of the layered filo strip. Fold the end at an angle over the filling to form a triangle. Continue to fold the triangle along the strip until you reach the end, like folding up a flag. Brush the top with butter and dust with Parmesan, place on prepared baking sheet, and cover while preparing the remaining pastries. Repeat until all the filling and filo strips are used up. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until the triangles are crisp and golden. Serve hot, warm or cold.

Note:  Triangles can be formed, but not baked, 3 days ahead. Arrange in 1 layer in heavy-duty sealed plastic bags, then freeze. Bake frozen pastries in same manner as above (do not thaw).

adapted from Tyler Florence, Food Network
raw spinach
If it doesn't all fit, that's okay. It cooks down quickly
and then you can add more until it's all cooked.
toasting coriander seeds (just dry toast them until they become fragrant)
ground coriander seeds
filling all mixed
filo sheets brushed with butter and sprinkled with herbs
cut into strips
spinach near the corner
first fold
second fold (just keep doing that until you reach the end)
wrapped and sprinkled, but not baked yet

If you want to make a spinach pie instead of triangles:
  Butter a 9" x 13" baking pan (I used a smaller one in the photos because I made some filling into triangles and some into a pie).  Cut filo sheets to fit your pan, if necessary.
  Layer 5-6 sheets of filo (brushing each sheet with butter). Sprinkle herbs between every 2-3 layers.
  Add half the spinach filling; spread evenly.
  Repeat 5-6 more filo/herb layers.
  Add remaining spinach filling; spread evenly.
  Top with 5-6 more layers of filo/herb layers (brush the top layer with butter, but don't sprinkle the top layer with herbs (they'll burn).
  Cooking time will be longer, bake until heated through and filo is golden brown (about 40 minutes).

filo/herb layers (I was very generous with the herbs)
spinach filling
top layer


Andria Crowjoy said...

Oh yum. We're still mid-week right? Skordalia?

Susan said...

We're on day four, but skordalia isn't on the agenda for Greek week (shocking, I know). But I do still make occasionally, so maybe I'll put it on another time. Good memories!

Elizabeth (Foodie, Formerly Fat) said...

The pie looks fantastic! Wow, my mouth is watering just looking at it. Evelyn too loves the triangles, and I can only imagine that the pie wouldn't cut it for her either. They're weird.

Susan said...

I'm sure it's the extra crunchy filo dough they get with the triangles, plus the fun factor (everyone loves finger food).

Andria Crowjoy said...

I taught a new group of people how to make it while on vacation. When everyone is running fingers in the bowl for the last few bits I am compelled to holler YOU REEK! ala Lee. :)

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