Every summer, as our annual trip to Greece to visit my in-laws draws near, I get a hankering for Greek flavors. Often, I can’t stand to turn on the oven in the Chicago heat to make baked dishes but today was a reasonable 80 degrees. I have been craving flakey phyllo and my dill plant has been growing like the weed that it is so all signs pointed to a spinach pie.
I have mistakenly called this dish Spanakopita for years. My half Greek husband just taught me that Spanakopita has no cheese in it. Spanakotiropita is a spinach AND feta pie. Since I believe that everything tastes better with cheese, I always make this version.
Some people say that phyllo is hard to work with. I have never had that problem. You need to use it fresh and do not let it dry out. If you stick to those two rules, you should have no problem at all. It can be found in the refrigerator section of many major grocery stores.
Ingredients are key to making this recipe as tasty as possible. You will see that I use frozen spinach (which may make some purists cringe) but I always buy the best Greek feta from a local ethnic grocer, use good olive oil and fresh herbs.
Spanakotiropita makes a fabulous Sunday meal. Leftovers heat up well in the oven, taste good at room temperature for lunch and freeze well. I included step by step photos for those fearful of working with phyllo for the first time. Kali oreksi!
3 10oz. boxes of frozen spinach
1 lb. feta cheese, crumbled
3 T butter
4 spring onions
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
3 eggs, lightly beaten
extra virign olive oil
salt and pepper
Thaw frozen spinach. I usually put it in a colander and run hot water over it. Squeeze handfuls of spinach until all water is removed and put spinach in a mixing bowl. Add crumbled feta cheese. In a small pan, melt butter. Chop green onions and add to the butter, cooking a few minutes until fragrant. Add butter and onions and fresh dill to the bowl. Stir together everything with a fork. Add lightly beaten eggs and combine into mixture.
Brush a 9 x 13 pan with olive oil. Lay down a full sheet of phyllo. The edges should come up and over the sides. Brush with olive oil. Lay down another entire sheet and brush with olive oil. Now I like to cut sheets in half with kitchen sheers so they fit just the bottom of the pan. Continue to layer sheets of phyllo brushed with olive oil until you have 6 sheets.
Put spinach and cheese mixture in the pan and spread evenly. Layer with 4 more half sheets that completely cover the spinach. Brush each layer with olive oil. I use full sheets again for the top two layers and allow the edges to come up over the top of the pan. Carefully roll the edges that overlap the pan inwards to create a rolled edge of phyllo around the perimeter of the pie. Brush entire top and edges with olive oil. With a sharp knife, make slits in the top of the pie to avoid bubbles when cooking.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes or until phyllo pastry is light brown. Remove and cool for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.