If you’re a fan of Greek food and Greek take-out, you may have heard of spanakopita before. You may have even tried it, but what is spanakopita exactly? Spanakopita, also known as spinach pie, is a savory pastry dish that has existed within Greek cuisine for a long time. Spanakopita makes a great appetizer before a larger meal or a delicious afternoon snack to tide you over before dinner. Here are some basic facts about this mouth-watering Greek food treat.
How Is Spanakopita Made?
The inside of spanakopita is filled with steamed and drained spinach, sautéed onions, feta cheese, egg and seasonings. These ingredients are then wrapped around a layer of phyllo dough, which forms the pastry’s flakey exterior. The pastry is cut into triangular or square pieces and brushed with butter or oil and then baked until golden brown. Other soft- white cheeses may be used in addition to feta. Some recipes call for a crust made out of flour and water instead of phyllo dough for a crunchier exterior.
History and Tradition
The origins of spanakopita are difficult to trace, although some say it may have originated in Greece over 400 years ago. The savory snack may be related to ispanakli, a similar Turkish dish. The most delicious and authentic spanakopita recipes in the world are believed to be derived from the region of Epirus, in the north west of Greece.
Today, spanakopita is one of the most popular snacks in Greece and is increasingly available all over the world. You can typically find spanakopita in Greek delis and bakeries, as well as Greek restaurants. It can be served fresh from the oven or slightly cooled down, as is the typical Greek custom.
I absolutely love spinach pie so I thought I would share some recipes
Spanakopita may be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Since cold salads are also ideal for a buffet party, I'm suggesting a simple feta cheese and olive salad. You'll have three festive and easy to serve dishes once they're prepared. The moussaka and the spanakopita can be served either hot or cold and will keep well without refrigeration for a few hours.
This recipe makes enough filling for two 9x12-inch rectangular pans or approximately 100 folded phyllo triangles.
- For the Filling
- 2 1/2 pounds fresh spinach (chopped, you can substitute frozen, thawed well)
- 3/4 cup olive oil (divided)
- 4 large onions (diced)
- 2 bunches green onions (diced, including 4 inches of the green section)
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley (chopped)
- 1/2 cup fresh dill (chopped, or 3 tablespoons dried dill)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Salt (to taste)
- Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
- 1/2 pound feta cheese (crumbled)
- 4 large eggs (lightly beaten)
- 1/2 pound ricotta cheese (or cottage cheese)
- For the Phyllo
- 4 tablespoons butter (melted)
- 1 pound phyllo pastry sheets
|Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)|
See Full Nutritional Guidelines
Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, this spanakopita dish is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and baking.
Gather the ingredients.
Wash and drain the chopped spinach very well. If using frozen spinach, thaw completely and squeeze out excess water. Spinach should be dry before you begin cooking.
Heat 1/2 cup olive oil in a deep sauté pan or large dutch oven. Sauté the onions and green onions until tender.
Add the spinach, parsley, and dill, and cook for 5 to 10 minutes until the spinach is wilted and heated through.
Add the nutmeg and season with salt and pepper.
If using frozen spinach, you will want to cook until excess moisture evaporates. Spinach mixture should be on the dry side.
Remove from heat and set the spinach aside to cool.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the feta, eggs, and ricotta or cottage cheese.
Add the cooled spinach mixture and mix until combined.
Gather the ingredients.
Combine the melted butter with the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil in a bowl. Using a pastry brush, lightly grease two 9- x 12-inch rectangular pans.
Carefully remove the phyllo roll from the plastic sleeve. 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. To prevent drying, cover one stack with wax paper and a damp paper towel while working with the other.
Make the Spanakopita
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Layer about 10 sheets of phyllo on the bottom of each pan making sure to brush each sheet with the butter-olive oil mixture.
Add half of the spinach mixture to each pan in an even layer and press with a spatula to flatten.
Layer another 10 phyllo sheets on top of the spinach mixture in each pan, making sure to brush each sheet well with butter-olive oil mixture.
Before baking, 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.)
Bake until the pie turns a deep golden brown. If the pie is frozen when you put it in the oven, you will need approximately 45 minutes of cooking time. If fresh, plan for approximately 20 to 25 minutes of cooking time.
Let cool for a few minutes and then slice and serve.
- You can keep trays of uncooked spanakopita in the freezer as a handy appetizer or side dish for guests.
- It freezes very well and heats beautifully.
- You'll need to fold the triangles, which is a bit of extra work, but well worth the effort.
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