Ah, SPANAKOPITA (spanaki meaning spinach, and pita meaning pie)—the quintessential rustic Greek pie, a spinach and phyllo masterpiece. Until I was 20, the only green vegetable I ate was spinach, and only then because my yiayia filled her spanakopita to the brim with it. Her recipe calls for feta (and lots of it), which is probably why I loved this pie so much. But over the years, my many trips to Greece have changed this cook’s palate. I’ve become more daring with my food choices because Greek tradition has won my heart. Traditional spinach pie uses far less cheese than my yiayia’s (if any at all). This allows the spinach flavor to really shine along with the other greens that are sometimes mixed in for a pleasing earthy bite.
The spanakopita I now make is a cross between my yiayia’s and those I tasted in Greece. My filling emphasizes the spinach and greens (plus green onions and dill) but adds feta and cottage cheese in the style of my yiayia. The filling blends together between layers of phyllo dough which are lightly coated with olive oil. Through experience, I know to go light on the olive oil so the pie doesn’t turn soggy. Spanakopita must 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. I dare you. I now bake and eat a lot of spinach pies, by choice. 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!) Vegetable lovers will need no prompting to tuck into a hot piece of spanakopita which makes a great meal, appetizer, or cold leftover the next day. Best of all, it’s as easy as pie to make.
- 16 ounces fresh spinach (or prepackaged baby spinach)
- 6 green onions, finely chopped
- ¼ cup fresh dill, chopped
- 12 ounces feta cheese
- 10 ounces cottage cheese or ricotta cheese (drained)
- 3 eggs, beaten
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 package of phyllo dough (I use store bought)
- ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil, for oiling the pan and phyllo sheets
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Wash and thoroughly drain the spinach. Add the chopped green onions and dill and sprinkle with pepper. Crumble the feta into the bowl and add the eggs and cottage cheese (or ricotta cheese). Season lightly with salt and pepper. Blend ingredients well with your hands.
- Brush a 9” x 13” 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 this phyllo and oil layering until you have used 8-10 sheets of phyllo dough.
- 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 on top, oiling lightly between layers, repeating the process as done with the bottom layer. Stuff any edges down into the sides of the pans to seal the pie. Brush the top phyllo layer with olive oil.
- Before baking, cut the pie into 12 squares, or however big you want your spanakopita pieces. This makes cutting the pie less messy when it gets out of the oven.
- Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until the top is golden brown.
- Allow the pie to cool for 15-20 minutes before serving.
I have always substituted Cream cheese for the ricotta. I learned this from my mother. It works wonerfully!
Oh that’s a great variation! Love to try new combinations of cheeses in my spanakopita, I’ll have to try that!
You can add a tbsp of raw rice in the spinach mixture to absorb excess liquids so phyllo doesn’t get mushy.
Yes! I’ve been starting to do this as well
Yum, love it so much!😋😍thanks for sharing!
Of course, i hope you like it! 😘
We have a small bakery here in Zagreb which offers similar pastry, I used to buy it on my breaks at college, so yummy!
Oh that’s awesome! I love a good bakery, you can never go wrong with a delicious warm pie!
Eleni! I love the crisp and clear presentation of the recipe and pictures. The layout of the recipe is easy to read and the commentary is interesting. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. I’m going to pass along and come back for more!
Thank you so much Ranae, I really appreciate the wonderful feedback! I’m happy to hear you’ll be coming back! Many more recipes and shares to come 🙂
This looks delicious and I’m excited to try and make it. Do you use raw spinach? Wanted to be sure I’m reading it right and most recipes use cooked. Thanks!
Hello there! Yes, I use raw spinach here, It’s what my yiayia always did. Be sure your cheeses are drained and don’t use too much oil/butter on the bottom. I hope you enjoy 🙂
So delicious! Better than I’ve had in a restaurant.
Oh my goodness that makes me SO happy to hear! Thank you 🤗
I made this, but I admit I hijacked the recipe a bit. I had hot Italian venison sausage that I wanted to use. Plus, my family really wants meat in their main dish. I cooked it with some onion then added in thawed chopped spinach. I followed the rest of the recipe. It is absolutely delicious. I prepared it while I was cooking dinner and then refrigerated it until morning when I took it out and baked as directed. Definitely a keeper!
Hey, I am ALL for creations that’s what this is all about! Follow along for methods and change what you’d think you’d enjoy. How wonderful and so glad you liked It. My grandmother does the same, she prepares all of her stuff ahead of time and bakes later on. Works out! Thank you.
Hi Eleni, I am enjoying your cookbook very much I have a question about the spanakopita. I tried it last night because I was curious about the uncooked filling which is different from what I usually do. I loved the flavor it was a more spinachy than cheesy. the only question I have is how to prevent a soggy bottom ? I did spin the spinach after I washed it in the salad spinner got out all the extra water but after I cooked it for an hour and five minutes (probably still wasn’t as golden brown on top as I wanted it to be )but I took it out anyway. After cutting into it ( waited 10 minites) I noticed there was a little liquid in the bottom which made the bottom a little soggy. I used olive oil for the phyllo instead of butter. anyway it was delicious and I can’t wait to make it again and eat it cold today. Any advise on the soggy bottom will be appreciated. Thanks
Hi Thalia! First of all, thank you so much for getting a cookbook I truly appreciate the support and glad you’re already trying recipes. Yes, many recipes you can cook the spinach before and I do that with some types (like when I do mini triangles or the coiled type), but for a big pie like this I like It uncooked and It turns out great! So, spinach does naturally have water and same with all the liquid from cottage cheese (or ricotta if you’re using that). So I allow both spinach and cottage cheese to drain really well beforehand. And, using less olive oil/butter than you’d think also helps. For a crisper top–many people like to spray water on top of a pie with some sesame seeds! You could give that a try 🙂
Sprinkle a handful of rice under the spinach mixture or mix it in, I’ve done both and it helps to absorb excess liquid.
that’s a great tip, thank you!
Thank you for the recipe. It came out beautifully and sooooo tasty!
I’m so happy to hear that! It’s one of my favorites, so I’m glad you enjoyed!
Oh my, my pleasure! SO happy you enjoyed the recipe 🙂
Hi. My recipe is very similar to yours, however, not sure why the bottom is soggy but the top is crispy. Suggestions please.
Did you use this recipe or are you saying your own recipe turns out soggy? Make sure your spinach/cottage cheese is drained and on the bottom you don’t need a lot of oil/butter. That helps from a soggy bottom.
I also put rice in my filling and use cottage cheese with chives. But, I will use your suggestion and drain the cottage cheese. i use about 6 eggs too lol. I will try and cut back on the butter as well, as it is too buttery on the bottom. But, I don’t hear any complaints lol. Merry Xmas and have a wonderful New Year 2023!!
Also, for the new Year when we make it, we put in a silver dollar in the crust, for Good Luck!
Oh, i’ve never heard of that with the coin and spanakopita but I love that! thank you for sharing.
Adding rice and draining the cottage cheese will for sure help with the soggy bottom!