This Spanakopita (pronounces span-ah- koh -pee-tah) is a traditional Greek filling with spinach, feta, green onions, and eggs. While the filling is traditionally used to fill a pie enclosed in phyllo, it is also familiar as a small appetizer folded into triangles.
For an in-depth discussion of phyllo and how to use it, please see my Baklava blog.
Cut into thin pieces, Spanakopita can be served as an appetizer or cut larger it can be used as a vegetable course or an entrée. A Greek salad of lettuce, tomatoes, calamata olives, feta and green pepper alongside a slice of this Spanakopita will take you to Greece without going through an airport. For a quick dressing, take Italian dressing and add oregano and dill to taste.
Fresh or Frozen Spinach
The only difference I find between fresh spinach and chopped frozen spinach is that the frozen it much easier. To thaw it quickly, remove the spinach from the packaging and place in a microwave-safe container. It will take a bit of microwaving depending upon how it was packaged to thaw it. It can be broken up with a fork after it has partially thawed to speed up the process. Make sure you let it cool before squeezing the water out.
Sizes of Phyllo
There are a couple of different sizes of phyllo. One package has two smaller rolls in one box. I prefer the 13x18 inch size and use it when I can find it. It makes shaping much easier.
Brush the phyllo lightly with butter and don't be concerned if some of it isn't buttered. If you drown it in butter the leaves will not separate when baked as this one does.
2 pounds fresh or frozen spinach
½ cup scallions
1 tablespoon butter (15 grams or ½ ounce)
¼ cup minced parsley
½ teaspoon dried dill weed or 1 ½ teaspoon fresh or to taste
½ pound feta cheese (225 grams or 8 ounces)
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon salt or to taste*
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ to ⅔ cup butter, melted, approximately
8 phyllo leaves
*All feta cheese is highly salted. So it is important to taste the mixture before putting it into the pie plate. Add more salt if necessary.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9” pie plate lightly and set aside. I prefer glass so I can see if the bottom is browning.
Wash the spinach well; drain. Remove the stems and chop finely. Or, thaw frozen chopped spinach and squeeze dry.
Slice the scallions, including the green part. Melt the butter and saute the scallions until soft but not browned. If using fresh spinach add it and cook until the moisture has evaporated. If there is moisture left in your squeezed frozen spinach, add it here. Otherwise, move to the next step.
Remove from the heat, add the parsley, dill, feta, eggs, salt, and pepper. Cool to use.
Place 2 phyllo leaves with the long edge horizontal in front of you. Cover the remaining phyllo with a towel until needed. Fold the left side of the dough over the right so the phyllo is in half. Fold the top leaf to the left. Lightly brush the half leaf with butter. Unfold the top leaf so the two sheets are open again. Do not butter.
Now fold the right side of the phyllo over the left side. Lay the top leaf down and butter it. Lay the other leaf over the bottom so the phyllo is open again. Place these two leaves in the pie plate. Lightly press them down into the pan. Continue buttering 2 leaves at a time and alternate how they are placed in the plate so the short side of the phyllo is not all on the same side until 8 leaves have been prepared and placed in the pie plate.
Place the filling in the pie plate and drizzle with about 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Fold the overhanging phyllo on top of the filling. Brush generously with butter.
Bake the Spanakopita for 45 to 50 minutes or until the phyllo is well browned on the top and bottom. Cover the top with foil if browning too quickly. Let the Spanakopita cool for about 10 minutes before serving or serve at room temperature.
Some recipes brush the Spanakopita with butter when it comes from the oven. I prefer not to so it remains crisp.
Refrigerate any leftover Spanakopita.
Note: The filling can be made and refrigerated the day ahead if desired. Bring to room temperature before using.
Additional recipes using phyllo you may enjoy:
Phyllo at its Finest - Baklava
Traditional Apple Strudel
Greek Orange Yogurt Cake with Orange Syrup - Portokalopita
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