Spanakopita, or spinach and cheese pie, is one of the most loved foods of Greece for Greeks and tourists alike. Robust flavours of the cheeses are well balanced with a hint of spice and and the freshness of herbs and greens, all wrapped up in a feather-light and crunchy pastry shell.
While a lot of Greek food is seasonal, this dish is made all year round, and is a particular favourite for festive occasions. In rural areas, women gather wild greens from the hillsides to add even more flavors, or make hortopita, which is primarily greens with little or no cheese. Here is my fail-safe recipe.
Spanakopita Greek Spinach Pie Recipe
½ kilo filo sheets
700 gr fresh spinach or frozen, preferably leaves and not cubes
200 gr crumbled feta cheese
1 cup of Graviera cheese or Gruyere or ½ cup of Parmesan
2 large eggs (slightly beaten)
½ cup of finely chopped fresh parsley
5 finely chopped spring onions
1 large finely chopped onion
1 cup of finely chopped fresh dill
½ teaspoon of ground nutmeg
½ cup of olive oil for the filling and
½ cup of olive oil for brushing the phyllo sheets
Salt and pepper to taste
Sesame seeds for topping
Wash the spinach leaves very well. If using frozen, let them thaw well. Use a deep pot and add the fresh spinach, do not use any water or oil at this point. Let them sweat, making sure they don’t stick to the bottom. It only takes a few minutes. Add little at a time! When excessive juices have evaporated, pull the spinach aside and add oil, onions, nutmeg, salt and pepper.
Cook for a few minutes until onions sweat and then add ½ cup of water. Cook until it absorbs all juices. Discard excessive liquid or else your spanakopita will end up with a soggy bottom. Turn off heat, add parsley, dill and let the filling cool before adding the eggs and cheeses. Discard excessive liquid or else your spanakopita will end up with a soggy bottom. Brush your cooking pan with a little oil and lay a sheet of phyllo, brush with oil and repeat until you have used half of the packet. Make sure you have the sheets covered with a damp towel to prevent them from drying. Spread the filling evenly and repeat with the other half. Tuck in the sides and cut into squares. (Do not cut all the way through.) Brush the top with oil and sprinkle some sesame seeds. Cook until golden brown. Kali Oreksi!
Recipes and pictures ©Georgia Gerardis 2012
After I posted this, I knew I would just have to make a spanakopita tonight, so my daughter Fran and I whipped one up when we got home. She added a t4t (Taste for Travel) in pastry for the top. And she took all the pictures on her iPhone and made a collage on Pic Stitch. What a wonderful app! And the pita tasted fabulous too. I have to make another one tomorrow morning, for the rest of the family!