Arguably the most famous of Greek dishes, no gathering of Greeks is complete without Spanakopita. This is one of those recipes that our mothers and aunts know how to make with their eyes closed. They don’t measure anything, and when you ask them how much of an ingredient to use they say things like “αρκετό” (enough) or “μπόλικο” (a lot). Not very helpful, right? Our Mom was starting to get a little annoyed with us while she made this Spanakopita because we kept stopping her to measure things. You will see her beautiful hands in a lot of these pictures. Those hands make a mean Spanakopita.
For the filling you’ll need spinach, leeks, scallions, dill, parsley, eggs and, of course, feta cheese.
Split the leek lengthwise and rinse it under cold water to remove any dirt. Then split it lengthwise again, and chop it up. Chop the scallions while you’re at it.
Saute the leek and scallions in olive oil until they are soft, then set the pan aside to let them cool a bit.
Add spinach leaves to a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and massage the leaves to soften them up and wilt them. We used baby spinach here. If you use regular spinach you will want to remove the thick stems and chop the leaves up a bit. You can also use frozen spinach. Just defrost it first and then squeeze out all of the excess liquid. So many options.
Crumble 2/3 of the feta into the spinach. Note how the spinach looks after it has been “massaged”. It is wilted and has reduced in volume.
Chop up the parsley and dill.
Add the chopped parsley and dill to the spinach, along with the sautéed leeks and scallions. Combine very well and then drizzle with olive oil. Beat eggs in a small bowl until just combined and add to spinach mixture. Combine well and set spinach mixture aside.
Grab your pan. We used a 13×9 inch pan with 2 inch sides. Brush the pan with olive oil and then lay 2 sheets of phyllo across the bottom of the pan. The phyllo should hang over the sides of the pan. Brush the phyllo with more olive oil, and then repeat with 2 more sheets of phyllo. See our post on Tiropitakia for more detail about working with phyllo dough. You will be using whole sheets of phyllo here, so no need to cut them in advance. If you are not as quick with phyllo dough as our Mom, you should cover the sheets that are not in use with a slightly damp cloth so that they don’t dry out.
Pour the spinach mixture into the pan, then take the rest of the feta cheese and sprinkle it evenly over the spinach.
Fold the overhanging phyllo 2 sheets at a time into the pan to partially cover the spinach mixture. Brush with olive oil. Repeat with the remaining 2 sheets of overhanging phyllo.
Fold one sheet of phyllo in half and lay it over the exposed spinach. Brush with olive oil.
Cover the entire pan with 1 full sheet of phyllo. Using a sharp knife or kitchen scissors, cut around the edges of the phyllo so that it is just slightly larger than the internal perimeter of the pan and then use a knife to tuck the edges of the phyllo neatly down into the sides of the pan. Brush with olive oil. Repeat with 3 more sheets of phyllo, brushing with olive oil between each layer. Sprinkle a little water over the entire pan to help the sheets of phyllo stick together when you cut into the spanakopita.
Before you pop this in the oven, you need to score the phyllo (cut it, but not very thoroughly). You can make the portions as large or small as you would like. We made 3 horizontal cuts to create 4 rows, and then made vertical cuts on the diagonal to create diamond shaped pieces.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour, or until it looks as golden as this and your house smells like Greek heaven. Let it cool for about 15 minutes before cutting, using the lines you cut before baking as your guide.
Spanakopita can be enjoyed warm or at room temperature.
Spanakopita (Spinach Pie)
Source: Athena Merianos