Jan 29, 2016

Recipe: Spanakopita (Greek Spinach Pie)

I love cooking my way around the world.

I love traveling, too, but traveling in my kitchen (as a supplement to the traditional way) lets me learn so much more about the world and the many fascinating cultures of the world than I would otherwise be able to. And cooking is fun!

Today, I hope you'll join me on a delicious trip to the Mediterranean. Greek cuisine is beloved by many, both in Greece and elsewhere, and I've been really enjoying working on more Greek-inspired recipes lately.

This spanakopita (Greek spinach pie) recipe is delicious, flaky, flavorful, and a great packed lunch for work. Spanakopita is meant to be eaten cold or at room temperature, so it makes the best leftovers!

It isn't very difficult to make, as long as you remember to thaw the phyllo in advance if you're using frozen phyllo pastry, and the result is restaurant-quality. Read on for the no-fail recipe!
Serves 15-18

One of the two pies I baked, since I used 2 smaller round pie forms instead of one large rectangular pan.

* 1 lb phyllo pastry. If you're using frozen, thaw it overnight in the fridge and bring it to room temperature in the unopened package before using! 
* 0.25 c. extra virgin olive oil (more or less, as needed)

Spinach Filling:

* 0.25 c. extra virgin olive oil
* 1 medium red onion, minced
* 6 spring onions, chopped
* 1 leek, thinly sliced (only use the white and the tender part of the green!)

* 2 lbs. frozen chopped spinach

* 0.75 c. fresh dill, minced
* 0.5-0.75 . feta cheese, crumbled (how much, within that range, depends on personal preference)
* 3 eggs, beaten
* salt and pepper, to taste

1) Heat the 0.25c olive oil in a large saucepan. Saute the onion, spring onion, and leeks in the hot oil until translucent, about 2-3 minutes.

2) Add the frozen spinach to the pan and saute, stirring regularly, until the spinach is cooked through and the water has cooked off, about 8-10 minutes.

3) Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool until it's cool enough to handle.

4) Mix the dill, feta cheese, eggs, and salt and pepper into the spinach mixture. Be careful with the salt, because the feta cheese will make it pretty salty already - I found I barely needed any additional salt!

5) Preheat the oven to 375F.

6) Lightly oil a 10" x 15" rectangular pan or two round pans. I used round disposable aluminum pans to make cleanup and transport easier!

7) Open the phyllo pastry and lay flat on a clean work surface. Cover with a damp cloth and keep the phyllo covered as you work, so that it doesn't dry out. Otherwise the sheets of pastry will stick together!

8) Place one sheet of phyllo in the prepared pan, letting the edges hang over the sides of the pan. Brush the phyllo with olive oil.

9) Repeat step 8 until you've used half the phyllo sheets to create the bottom pastry layer.

10) Spoon the spinach filling onto the pastry and smooth out into an even layer.

11) Tuck the pastry edges that hung over the sides of the pan in over the spinach filling.

12) Repeat step 8 to use up the remaining phyllo sheets to create the top pastry layer.

13) Score the top of the pastry with a sharp knife to outline the pieces you want to serve once the pie is finished. Don't cut through the pie, just score the top!

14) Bake the spanakopita in the middle of the preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until golden brown.

15) Remove the pan from the oven and cool.

Cut along the scored lines into serving pieces and serve either a bit warm or at room temperature.

Spanakopita shouldn't be eaten hot!

I hope you enjoy this spanakopita as much as my taste testers did!

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