Pastries of Greece: Spinach Phyllo Pies, or “Spanakopita”

Posted on March 6, 2012

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Reading a bit about the history of these pastries; it turns out they belong to the burek family of pastries; and they are often filled with ricotta rather than feta, which is cheaper. Or other kinds of wet cheeses such as cottage cheese. Interesting, since in my head I had wanted to use ricotta initially, but found feta more common in the recipes I was looking at online.

I remember eating these all over Greece when we were there, as snacks rather than meals, along the side of the road in a dusty town near Athens, or in Rhodos Greece, served from a snack cart under the shade of some palms by an ancient castle.

But in my house if this much effort goes into something, its our meal, and likely the only thing on the table…

  • 1 pack of Phyllo Pastry (you will only use 6 – 9 sheets)
  • 1 big bag of spinach (I used baby spinach leaves); frozen or fresh will work, though fresh is better.
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1 Tbs of chopped dill
  • 1 Tbs of chopped parsley
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (about 1/4 tsp)
  • zest of a 1/4 of a lemon
  • juice of a 1/4 of a lemon (or a big squeeze)
  • 4-6 oz of feta cheese
  • salt and black pepper
  • olive oil for brushing (you need quite a bit)

Heat oven to 350.

Saute onions in oil until soft. Cook spinach down; either by dropping into boiling water for 3 minutes until it wilts, or sauteeing until it reduces down. Squeeze out excess water, and add spinach and herbs to onions, along with lemon juice. Cook for a few minutes, then turn heat off and add cheese, stirring until combined.

Prep three sheets phyllo dough in the following manner: phyllo brushed with butter (fingers always work better than pastry brushes…), then phyllo, butter, phyllo

Cut the three sheets of stacked phyllo into three long strips. Then place small amounts of the delicious filling at one edge, and begin to wrap forming first a triangle, then swinging it around to continue wrapping a triangle shape; over and over again.If you want more of a tutorial, go here, to bottom of page.

Place triangles on baking sheet, brush with olive oil (Whoops, I forgot this part before).

Bake until golden brown, as only pastry becomes golden (!) 25-30 min.

Would make a great side dish to a leg of lamb…just sayin…

We are pinching pennies so we had them with fillets of sole. Yum.

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Posted in: Pastry