Spanakopita Recipe for Greek Spinach Pie

Recipes | August 23, 2015 | By

spanakopita

I love the layered filo, spinach and cheese mixture of a perfect spanakopita.

Don’t let layers of buttery phyllo intimidate you. Here’s a recipe for spanakopita success.

Spanakopita (Greek Spinach Pie) is an essential Greek dish. You will rarely encounter a Greek holiday or celebration without one. In Greece, it’s prevalent supply leads it to be the logical choice for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I also love making it for my Los Angeles personal chef clients.

For me, the perfect spanakopita involves beautiful wilted spinach, woven with a variety of cheese. In Greece, they use a nice salty hard sheeps/goats-milk cheese called Kefalotiri. It’s a little harder to source that in the U.S. so you can sub in parmesan, romano or pecorino or a mix of those. Feta cheese is also a main ingredient. I love traditional Greek feta, but you can use whatever you prefer and have available to you. This recipe also calls for cream cheese, which is not traditionally used in Greece, but I personally love how it binds the whole pie together with a satisfying flavor and texture. Fresh herbs make the entire mix pop, so splurge on those. Dill and mint are two herbs that really shine through.

spanakopita-technique

Making spanakopita in my kitchen.

How to avoid a soggy spanakopita

Let’s face it, nobody wants to eat a soggy spanakopita. But this doesn’t have to be your fate if you follow a few simple tips. The first is making sure you squeeze all the excess moisture out of your spinach. This is the case with both fresh and frozen spinach. If you are using fresh spinach, wilt it in a large pan and then drain it in a colander. Instead of a colander, a salad spinner is the perfect tool for getting all the extra moisture out of the spinach. For those using frozen spinach, make sure it’s thoroughly defrosted and then squeeze it out in a colander. You can also put it in a kitchen towel or a cheese cloth to help with squeezing.

Finally, scoring your spanakopita after you have assembled it serves two purposes. It vents the spanakopita and gets rid of the steam that can build up in the pie, which can make it soggy. Also it helps with cutting, since it’s much easier to cut the phyllo before it becomes super flaky.

Freeze for later

Sometimes if I’m in the groove (like in the time-lapse video below), I like to make a few spanakopitas at a time and freeze them to easily bake off at a later time. All you have to do is make the pie up until you finish assembling it. Then wrap it in plastic wrap and freeze it. Once you are ready to bake it, take it out of the freezer, apply the egg wash on the top and pop it into the oven and bake directly from frozen. You don’t need to defrost it or anything.

Make this winning recipe

This recipe originally appeared on the Huffington Post in an article covering the 2010 KCRW Good Food Pie Contest. I took home a 3rd place ribbon for it that year. I think I could have placed higher but there was some dispute if a spanakopita was a real pie. Of course it it, people. It was a pie before pie was pie. But I digress.

I love teaching how to make this recipe in my cooking classes. Take the basic ingredients and riff off it to your own taste. This is the perfect ratio of scallions and spinach to cheese and herbs for me, but you may have another mixture in mind. Above all, savor your finished product. There’s nothing quite like a hot, buttery, spinachy, cheesy spanakopita that is just out of the oven.

Spanakopita Recipe for Greek Spinach Pie

Yum
spanakopita
Christina Xenos
Category
Appetizer, Entree
Cuisine
Greek, Mediterranean
Prep Time
1 hour
Cook Time
45 minutes

I love the layered filo, spinach and cheese mixture of a perfect spanakopita.

Servings: 12
Serving Size: 1 piece

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs fresh or frozen spinach
  • 3 bunches scallions
  • 3/4-lb (12 oz.) Feta cheese
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
 (optional)
  • 1-2 cups shredded Kefalotiri, or another shredded hard salty cheese like Pecorino Romano
  • Assorted chopped fresh herbs (1/3 cup each of chopped dill, mint and flat leaf parsley)
  • 2 tbs. Cream of Wheat or Farina (optional)
  • 2 eggs beaten
 plus 1 egg yolk for egg wash
  • 1 1-lb box Phyllo Dough
  • 1 to 1-1/2 sticks butter
 or 1 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil for brushing phyllo
  • 2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • black pepper (a few shakes)

Instructions

    Make the Filling:
  1. For Fresh spinach: In a large pan, wilt the spinach — you will likely have to work in batches — for about 4 minutes. Pour into a colander or, better yet, a salad spinner to drain any excess water. Roughly chop. If using frozen spinach, defrost spinach and squeeze out all excess moisture. Using a kitchen cloth or a cheese cloth helps.
  2. Chop the scallions. In a large pan, saute them in 2 tbs. Kalamata olive oil for about 4 minutes. Add the spinach and combine. Cooking the scallions is optional. It will mellow out the flavor, so if you like a more sharp scallion flavor, omit this step and just put the chopped scallions in a bowl. If you substitute onions or leeks for scallions, you must cook them.
  3. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and add the cheese, herbs, black pepper, 2 beaten eggs, and Cream of Wheat (optional). Mix well (I like to use my hands). The mix should be stable at this point. If it's watery add some more Cream of Wheat, and/or cheese. Set aside the filling.
    Phyllo Crust/Assembling the pie:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Melt 1 stick of butter in a pan or in the microwave. If using olive oil, pour out 1 /1/2 cup in a bowl.
  3. Make sure the box of phyllo is at room temperature. When you're ready to use it, unwrap it so it is in one rectangular pile.
  4. Dip your pastry brush in the melted butter or extra virgin and brush a 9 x 12 -inch baking pan with butter or olive oil. Pick up one leaf of phyllo and lay it in the pan. Brush phyllo with butter. Repeat layering the phyllo buttering each individual leaf. Layer about 10-12 leaves on the bottom.
  5. Add the filling on top of the phyllo leaves. Evenly distribute it across the pan. Then start making your top crust by adding a leaf of phyllo, buttering it and adding another on top. Repeat the process for about 15 leaves.
  6. Make sure to butter your top piece of phyllo. Score the pie with your knife you should be able to divide the pie evenly into 12 square pieces.
  7. After you've scored it, beat the egg yolk with 1/2 tbs. water. Brush it over the top of the pie.
  8. Bake pie until top is brown, about 45 minutes, to an hour.

Notes

The trick for good spanakopita is to make sure the filling is not too soggy. Make sure you thoroughly drain your spinach. Scoring your spanakopita after you've assembled it (prior to baking it) vents the pie, which also helps it from getting soggy.

You can use olive oil instead of butter (or a mix) to brush on the phyllo.

Make a few spanakopitas at a time and freeze them to easily bake off at a later time. All you have to do is make the pie up until you finish assembling it. Then wrap it in plastic wrap and freeze it. Once you are ready to bake it, take it out of the freezer, apply the egg wash on the top and pop it into the oven and bake directly from frozen. You don't need to defrost it or anything, you just have to cook it for a bit longer.

Nutrition Facts

Spanakopita Recipe for Greek Spinach Pie

Serves 1 piece

Amount Per Serving
Calories 346
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 32g 49.2%
Saturated Fat 19g 95%
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 131mg 43.7%
Sodium 474mg 19.8%
Total Carbohydrate 9g 3%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Sugars 2g
Protein 8g
Vitamin A NA Vitamin C 2mg
Calcium 219mg Iron 3mg

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

https://mysweetgreek.com/recipes/spanakopita-greek-spinach-pie/

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Comments

  1. Leave a Reply

    Rob McCaskill
    October 25, 2019

    Well laid out. I think even I can follow the path.

  2. Leave a Reply

    Connie
    October 27, 2019

    Is there any way to put meat in this? I made it to rave reviews, except for where’s the meat?!

    • Leave a Reply

      Christina Xenos
      October 27, 2019

      Hi Connie, Spanakopita is traditionally a spinach pie. However, there are a variety of pies in Greek cooking. You could make another type of phyllo pie with a meat filling. I’m developing some recipes for Kotopita and Kreatopita that I’ll post soon!

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