Spanakopita (spanaki meaning spinach, and pita meaning pie) is a rustic Greek pie made with spinach and phyllo. Until I was 20, the only green vegetable I ate was spinach, and only then because it was used as a filling in my yiayia’ spanakopita. Her recipe calls for feta (and lots of it), which is probably why I loved this pie so much. But, after many visits to Greece over the years I’ve become more daring with my food choices, and I slowly became more fond of Greece’s traditional style of spanakopita. A Greek spinach pie uses far less cheese than my yiayia’s (if any at all), and the spinach flavor really comes through along with other greens that are sometimes mixed in.
The spanakopita I now make is a cross between my yiayia’s and those I found in Greece. My filling puts an emphasis on the spinach and greens (plus green onions and dill), but adds feta and cottage cheese (or ricotta cheese) in the style of my yiayia. The filling is all blended together between layers of phyllo dough, which are lightly coated with olive oil. Through experience I found to go light on the olive oil so the pie doesn’t turn soggy. Spanakopita should come out of the oven light and crispy.
If you’re not so big on vegetables, or have fussy kids (like I was), let spanakopita be the gateway dish into the world of vegetables. Not only do I eat a lot of spanakopita now, but I’ll also eat briam (a dish solely made of vegetables), fasolakia (green beans stew), and broccoli (yes the dreaded broccoli!) Even if you are already a vegetable lover, it’s always good to know how to make a classic Greek pie like this spanakopita. It makes a great appetizer or meal to be enjoyed warm, or even eaten cold the next day as leftovers. Best of all, it’s as easy as pie to make.
- 1 package of phyllo dough (I use store bought phyllo)*
- 16 oz fresh spinach (or prepackaged and washed baby spinach)
- 6 green onions, finely chopped
- ¼ cup fresh dill, chopped
- 12 oz feta cheese
- 10 oz cottage cheese, cream cheese or ricotta**
- 3 eggs, beaten
- salt and pepper, to taste
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, for oiling the pan and phyllo sheets
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Wash and drain the spinach well. Tear the spinach up with your hands and add to a large bowl. Add the chopped green onions and dill together and sprinkle with pepper. Crumble the feta in the bowl and add the eggs and cottage cheese (or ricotta /cream cheese). Season lightly with salt and pepper. Mix together well with your hands.
- Brush a 9x12 baking pan with olive oil. Lay a sheet of phyllo dough on the bottom, leaving a slight overhang on the sides of the pan. Drizzle (very lightly) with olive oil and repeat until you have used 10 sheets of phyllo dough. You don't need a lot of oil between sheets, you want the phyllo to come out flakey!
- Add the filling mixture to the pan and spread evenly. Bring the sheets that were hanging outside of the pan over the filling.
- Lay 5 sheets of phyllo dough, and oil lightly between layers, repeating the process as done with the bottom layer. Fold the hanging phyllo layers on top of the pie. Drizzle the top of the pie with olive oil.
- Before baking, cut the pie into 12 squares, or how big you want your spanakopita pieces. This makes cutting the pie less messy when it gets out of the oven.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour, until the top is golden brown.
- Allow the pie to cool for 15-20 minutes before serving. You may need to recut the pieces, so just follow along the cuts already made. Enjoy!