Confident home cooking
Spinach pie
Appetizers, Main Dishes, Stuffing Stuff, Vegetarian

Spanakopita: Two Ways

by Nick

Let the record clearly show: I was not defeated by spanakopita. After my abysmal failure last week, I bounced back, re-grouped, read about 20 different recipes, bought a bunch of spinach, and tackled it with a fresh pack of phyllo dough and a fresh attitude.

Just to show spanakopita who’s boss, I decided to make two different varieties: A larger spinach pie version and smaller individual spanakopitas that are easily frozen for later.

My results were much improved this time around!

Before I get down to business with this recipe, let me thank everyone who personally emailed me recipes. And who knew I had so many Greek readers! I got about 20 different spanakopita recipes. That’s pretty awesome stuff.

And I promptly decided to not follow any of them and instead try to meld them all into one master spanakopita recipe. So if you sent me a recipe, you’ll probably find little pieces that are yours, but it probably won’t look exactly like yours. But I would’ve never been able to get this far without all the recipes so thanks again spanakopita fiends.

Yield
Makes a 9X9 pie and also 6 individual spanakopitas.
Prep Time
Total Time
Print Recipe

Spanakopita: Two Ways

Spanakopita: Two Ways

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds spinach (I got this from 4 bunches of fresh spinach, but you could also use frozen spinach)
  • 2 leeks, washed and chopped
  • 1 bunch of scallions, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 Cup chopped dill
  • 1/2 Teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 Teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 Cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 pound feta cheese, well crumbled
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 package phyllo dough or if you are making it, about 20 sheets
  • 2/3 Cups of clarified butter or olive oil

Helpful Equipment

  • Pastry brush! (Kind of a must have when working with phyllo dough)

Directions

1) Make sure spinach is clean and then blanch for a minute in simmering salted water. Drain the spinach and move it to some paper towels. Let it cool briefly and then squeeze out as much moisture as possible from the spinach.

2) Then coarsely chop the spinach.

3) Chop leeks and scallions and saute them for a minute or two over medium-high heat with a drizzle of olive oil. You just want them to soften up a bit.

4) Add leeks to chopped spinach and stir in all other filling ingredients.

FOR THE PIE:

1) In a 9X9 baking dish, brush the bottom with a light coating of clarified butter and fit in your first layer of phyllo dough. If it rips a bit, that's fine! The additional layers will cover your problems.

2) After your first layer of dough, brush the surface well with butter and lay down your second piece perpendicular to the first - just to make sure the layers are even on the sides. I did 8 layers on the bottom, but I heard anywhere from 4-10 in the recipes I read.

3) After you build a firm, solid base, poke it with a fork a few times so steam can escape. Then fill the shell with a good amount of filling. I filled it about 1/2 an inch high.

4) Then add two more layers of phyllo dough.

5) Then another 1/4 inch or 1/2 inch of filling.

6) Finally add 4 more pieces of phyllo on top. Again, you always always brush with butter in between layers! When you're done, you can fold over the edges toward the center so they don't stick out too much. Also, you can pre-cut through all the layers to make it easier to get out. I just cut mine into 4 large pieces!

7) Bake this at 375 for about 35-40 minutes! It will be completely delicious.

FOR INDIVIDUAL PIES:

1) Take one sheet of dough and brush it well with butter.

2) Fold it in half horizontally and brush that surface with butter.

3) Add a few Tablespoons of filling to the bottom right corner of the phyllo.

4) Then fold the left corner over the filling to form a triangle!

5) Continue to fold triangle up to form a triangle of filled dough. Brush with more butter and add to a baking sheet.

6) Freeze the wraps or bake them for 25-30 minutes at 375.


Making the Filling

I used fresh spinach for this batch, but I’m fairly certain you wouldn’t lose much by using frozen spinach. I wouldn’t try canned though. Popeye can keep the stuff.

If you’re using fresh though, make sure your spinach is very clean and washed.

Spinach washed

You could use frozen.

Then blanch it for a literally a minute, using a colander, in simmering salted water. When you pull it out of the water, set the hot spinach in a few paper towels. Bunch of the paper towels and (over the sink) squeeze out as much moisture as you can.

Then give the stuff a coarse chop!

spinach chopped

Actually, this is a lot of spinach.

Once you’re spinach is done, chop up your leeks and scallions. Again, be sure to wash everything well. The leeks especially have a tendency to accumulate dirt between the layers. I like to split them down the middle and then wash them to get in all the layers.

leeks

Chopping leeks!

Some of the recipes I read called for the leeks and scallions (if they were used) to be raw, but I decided to saute them for just a minute or two to bring out the flavors and soften them a bit. I sauteed them along with the garlic in about 3 Tablespoons of olive oil.

cooking leeks

Just a minute or two people.

Once those are cooked you can add them to the bowl with the chopped spinach.

Now let’s talk cheese. You could definitely use just feta for this and I think that would be just fine, but I decided to do some mixing and added a tiny portion of ricotta cheese.

Cheeses

That’s right. Ricotta baby.

The filling is pretty easy to finish at this point. Just mix together your cheeses with your vegetables and then stir in your egg, spices, and salt and pepper.

The only thing to remember on the cheese is to make sure you crumble your feta up very well before adding it in. Spend a few minutes breaking it up into tiny pieces.

This stuff was delicious just like this!

Filling done

Don’t tell anyone… I snuck a few spoonfuls.

Dealing with Phyllo

Phyllo is fickle. The real problem with it is that because it’s so incredibly thin, it dries out very fast. So if you aren’t careful, by the end of your spanakopita adventure, your phyllo will be impossible to work with. It will just flake apart in your hands. Also, be sure to read the package to make sure your phyllo dough is thawed enough to work with!

The way to make sure it stays flexible is to keep your phyllo dough under a barely moist dish towel. Be careful to just barely get it wet (damp is the word that comes to mind) or it will fuse all your phyllo sheets together!

Making the pie

Basically, the spanakopita pie is layers of phyllo dough, brushed with butter or olive oil in between and packed full of spinach filling.

This was my method:

1) In a 9X9 baking dish, brush the bottom with a light coating of clarified butter and fit in your first layer of phyllo dough. If it rips a bit, that’s fine! The additional layers will cover your problems. (Top left)

2) After your first layer of dough, brush the surface well with butter and lay down your second piece perpendicular to the first – just to make sure the layers are even on the sides. I did 8 layers on the bottom, but I heard anywhere from 4-10 in the recipes I read. (Top right)

3) After you build a firm, solid base, poke it with a fork a few times so steam can escape. Then fill the shell with a good amount of filling. I filled it about 1/2 an inch high. (Mid left)

4) Then add two more layers of phyllo dough. (Mid right)

5) Then another 1/4 inch or 1/2 inch of filling. (Bottom left)

6) Finally add 4 more pieces of phyllo on top. Again, you always always brush with butter in between layers! When you’re done, you can fold over the edges toward the center so they don’t stick out too much. Also, you can pre-cut through all the layers to make it easier to get out. I just cut mine into 4 large pieces! (Bottom right)

making the pie

Get it?

Bake this at 375 for about 35-40 minutes! It will be completely delicious.

Making individual Spanakopitas

Now for a different method.

1) Take one sheet of dough and brush it well with butter. (Top left)
2) Fold it in half horizontally and brush that surface with butter. (Top right)
3) Add a few Tablespoons of filling to the bottom right corner of the phyllo. (Bottom left)
4) Then fold the left corner over the filling to form a triangle! (Bottom right)

individuals

Perfect for snacking!

Then fold that formed triangle up and continue to fold up and over to make a nice-sized triangle of enclosed dough with filling! As you make these, brush them with yet more oil or butter and add them to a baking sheet.

freezer ready

These keep excellently in the freezer.

Stick these in the freezer to freeze completely through and then take them out and wrap them in foil or plastic wrap and stick them all in a large sealed plastic bag to prevent freezer burn. They will keep in the freezer for a long time!

I made my individual spanakopitas while my larger pie cooked. This was the finished flaky version:

pie done

So delicious.

On the individual guys, you don’t even need to thaw them before cooking. Just toss them in a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes and they will puff up, crisp up, and be as delicious as on day one!

Single Spanakopita

Nice.

So that’s it! That was a long post, but hopefully it was useful! Both of these versions were completely delicious and so much better than my original fail.

Thanks again to everyone who sent me recipe ideas!