Today we are making delicious savoury spinach pies, or Spanakopites in Greek. The dough we need for this recipe is called phyllo pastry. While it is possible to make at home, making phyllo is an art and we can leave this to the professionals. When working with phyllo pastry, your preparedness, organizational skills & cleanliness will be of the utmost importance. Let’s heat up the oven and cook some pies!
Yield: 6 pies
Preparation Time: About 35 minutes
Baking Time: About 30 minutes @ 350 F
- 1 bunch spinach, washed, dried and de-stemmed (or 1 package frozen spinach, thawed)
- 150 g (1 cup) feta cheese, crumbled
- ½ cup (125mL) ricotta cheese
- 4 green onions, finely chopped
- 2 Tbsp (30mL) finely chopped fresh dill
- 2 eggs, beaten
- ½ tsp (2mL) salt
- 1/4 tsp (1mL) freshly cracked black pepper
- 8 sheets of phyllo pastry
- olive oil or melted butter, for brushing the phyllo pastry
* Note: Phyllo pastry is found in the frozen section of the store. Thaw the phyllo pastry for 24 hours in the fridge before using
- large pot
- sieve or colander and a large bowl
- cutting board
- small sharp knife
- medium-sized bowl
- measuring cups and spoons
- 2 small bowls
- large spoon
- clean damp tea towel
- pastry brush
- baking sheets
- pancake flipper
- Wash, spin dry and roughly chop the spinach, throwing out the large stems. Fill a large pot 1/4 full of water. Place on the stove top and turn on the water to high. When the water has come to a boil, add the spinach to the water with tongs, dunking the spinach. Turn the water off. Place a colander in the sink and drain the pot into the colander. Drain and cool then squeeze the water out of the spinach and place in a medium-sized bowl.
- Add the crumbled feta cheese and the ricotta cheese to the spinach.
- Cut the hairy ends off of the green onions then cut the 4 green onions thinly. Add to the bowl.
- Tear the dill leaves off of the stems then tear the dill, adding to the bowl.
- Crack the eggs into a small bowl and lightly beat with a fork. Add to the spinach mixture.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Combine the mixture with a large spoon, mixing well.
ASSEMBLING THE PIES
- Preheat the oven to 175C (350F).
- Pour a small amount of olive oil (or melted butter) into a small bowl and place a pastry brush in it. Place by your work station.
- Unroll the phyllo pastry and cover with a clean, damp tea towel so that it doesn’t dry out.
- Take one piece of phyllo pastry and lay on your work surface, short side toward you. (Be careful as phyllo is very thin and tender.) Cover the remaining phyllo. Lightly brush the phyllo with some olive oil. Take another piece of phyllo from under the tea towel and place it on top of the first one. Brush this piece with a little oil. Cut the phyllo into half lengthwise.
- Place 1/6 of the filling on the bottom of one of the strips about 3 cm from the edge. Fold the corner of the strip over the filling so that its edge meets the other edge, making a triangle shape. Continue to fold the phyllo pastry, making triangle shapes, until you reach the end of the phyllo strip. Brush the top of the pie with a little oil and place on an ungreased baking sheet.
- Repeat the filling and folding with the other phyllo strip.
- Repeat steps #4 – 6 two more times, until you have 6 spinach pie triangles.
- Bake for about 30 minutes, until the pies are golden brown. Serve warm.
- The spinach pies can be made and frozen before baking. When ready to eat, thaw the unbaked pies for 45 minutes, then bake for 35 – 40 minutes. Freeze the pies in a single layer so that they don’t stick together.
- You can also use frozen spinach. Thaw and squeeze out the spinach. You don’t need to cook it.
STEP-BY-STEP – SPANAKOPITA!
Add the spinach to a pot of boiling water using tongs, then turn off the heat immediately. Spinach just needs to be dunked into the water and it’s ready to go.
Crumble the feta cheese with your fingers. Test yourself to keep all the feta bits inside a bowl. Wash your hands immediately after finishing crumbling the cheese. If there are any loose bits that fell onto the counter or the floor, let’s clean it up before moving on.
Work with one sheet of phyllo pastry at a time. Keep the rest of the phyllo pastry under a clean tea towel otherwise they will start to dry out and crack. Paint the surface with olive oil or melted butter. Your goal here is to paint the phyllo without getting oil on your work surface or your hands!
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