Spanakopita is a popular Greek savoury pie made of perfectly shatteringly crisp, phyllo (or fillo) pastry dough with a comforting filling of soft sweet spinach and salty feta mixture.
An easy spanakopita recipe. Spanakopita is one of those pastries that is really easy to make, but it probably scares people away because they might think it’s hard to make. Well it is not, it’s just a matter of assembling all the ingredients together and bake it.
It’s as good for breakfast as it is for lunch or dinner.
You can certainly make snack-sized spanakopita shaped into triangles or even rolls or cigars, but I prefer to make the Fast, classic, simple and easy casserole.
For the Filling
- 250 g Spinach - fresh chopped
- 1 tbsp Olive oil - extra virgin
- 1 Onion - diced
- 1 tbsp Garlic - minced
- Green onions - and/or leek diced
- Parsley - chopped
- Dill - optional
- Oregano - optional
- Thyme - optional
- Nutmeg - ground
- Paprika - or Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 1/3 cup Feta cheese - crumbled - 1 cup is about 150g/5.29 oz
- 2 Egg - lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup Cottage cheese - 1 cup is about 160g/5.7oz - or Ricotta cheese
- 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese - grated optional
For the Phyllo
- Olive oil - extra virgin or melted butter
- 5 sheets Phyllo pastry - properly thawed
- Important: If your phyllo pastry was in the freezer, take it out in time for it to defrost. See notes for best results.
Prepare the Filling
- Before you begin mixing the filling, be sure the spinach is very well washed and drained.
- Spinach should be dry before you begin cooking. If using frozen spinach, thaw completely and squeeze out excess water.
- Chopp dried spinach using a food processor.
- Heat olive oil in a sauté pan. Sauté the onions and garlic until tender.
- Add the spinach, green onions, parsley, and other desired seasonings, and cook for 5 to 10 minutes until the spinach is wilted and heated through.
- Note: If using frozen spinach, you will want to cook until excess moisture evaporates. Spinach mixture should be as dry as possible before it goes anywhere near the pastry. Otherwise it's going to make the phyllo dough soggy, and you don't want soggy spanakopita.
- Remove from heat and set the spinach aside to cool.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the feta, eggs, cottage or ricotta cheese and nutmeg.
- Add the cooled spinach mixture and stir until all is well-combined.
Prepare the Phyllo
- Carefully remove the phyllo roll from the plastic sleeve. Unroll the phyllo sheets and place them between two very lightly damp kitchen cloths.
- Most packages come in 12- x 18-inch sheets when opened fully. Using scissors or sharp knife, cut the sheets in half to make two stacks of 9- x 12-inch sheets.
Assemble the Spanakopita
- Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F).
- Using a pastry brush, lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 7-x 11-inch rectangular baking dish with olive oil.
- Layer about 5 half sheets of phyllo on the bottom of the baking dish letting them cover the sides of the dish and making sure to brush each sheet with olive oil.
- Add spinach mixture over the phyllo crust in an even layer and press with a spatula to flatten.
- Layer the other 5 half phyllo sheets on top of the spinach mixture in the pan, making sure to brush each sheet well with olive oil.
- Brush the very top layer with olive oil (or eggwash).
- Fold the flaps or excess from the sides, you can crumble them a little. Brush the folded sides well with olive oil.
- Score the top layer of phyllo (making sure not to puncture filling layer) to enable easier cutting of pieces later, (You can place the pan in the freezer to harden the top layers and then use a serrated knife to make the cutting easier.) or leave the cutting to later.
- Bake until the pie turns a deep golden brown, about 30 minutes.
- Let cool for a few minutes and then cut into squares and serve while hot.
- The dough must be thawed properly; too much moisture will make the dough or sheets sticky and hard to manage. When thawing, do not remove the phyllo (fillo) from the package, place it in the fridge 12-14 hours before using.
- Before you begin assembling the spanakopita casserole, unroll the thawed phyllo (fillo) sheets and place them carefully between two ever-so-slightly damp kitchen cloths. This helps the sheets remain lenient so they won’t tear too much.
- Phyllo (fillo) sheets will tear, and that’s perfectly fine. Just make sure you save a couple good sheets for the top of the spanakopita casserole.
- Do not skimp on the butter or oil (I use quality olive oil here instead to keep it light), but do not overdo it either. You need to brush each of the layers with a little olive oil.
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