My earliest memory of this glorious Greek delight came in my early 20’s. I was at a diner, in my home state of Jersey, (diners are kind of our thing here in Jersey) and I wanted to try something different. One taste and I was hooked, and I have been ever since. Spanakopita is a Greek spinach pie or can be made into triangles. The combination of feta cheese, cream cheese and ricotta cheese makes the perfect delicate filling for the light and flaky phyllo dough, that is just sheer perfection!
My daughter is in love with Spanakopita just as much as I am, and requested that I make it for her when I was feeling up to it, Well today, I was feeling up to it and the taste was so, so good!
I use to be very intimidated by phyllo dough, mostly because it is a fickle little bitch of a dough to work with! You have to keep it very moist as your work, so as not to let it dry out, and the first time I tried to make this, it was a disaster because I didn’t know that I needed to keep the dough moist and covered with a damp kitchen towel. It cracked and dried out so bad, I got so frustrated I wound up making it with puff pastry, not a bad substitute I might add, but certainly not traditional Greek.
Now that I am a bit more comfortable and have a wee bit more cooking experience, I enjoy the challenge, and believe me it is still a challenge, for even the most seasoned of chefs. But certainly well worth the effort.
I like to make the triangles and the pie version, when I make this, as that is my first experience with Spanakopita at a diner, in pie form, and my kidlets kinda dig the triangles. You can make them either way. The pie takes a little more doing, but is more forgiving to be honest.
The flavors in this dish are so good, and work perfectly together. I love the taste of the cream cheese, spinach, and the ricotta, and the feta. You need good feta cheese for this dish! You can use the crumbled feta, but I like to use the brick of feta and crumble it myself. I feel it has a more authentic taste.
I hope you give this dish a try! It is so comforting, so flavorful, and just delicious.
Savory Greek Spanakopita
A flaky, savory, authentic Greek classic, that's flavorful, comforting and absolutely delicious!
- This can be doubled and made exclusively into triangles or made into a larger pie for serving more guests. Either way the taste is so delish!
- 2 1/2 cups of steamed fresh spinach cleaned, chopped and drained.
- half a package of phyllo dough, thawed and covered with plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel (If dough is frozen you can let it thaw wrapped in plastic that it comes in for 2 hours at room temperature, then remove, cover in plastic wrap, topped with damp kitchen towel, or just place damp kitchen towel over the phyllo dough
- 1/2 onion finely chopped
- 1 clove of garlic finely minced
- 4 oz. of cream cheese
- 1/4 cup of Pecorino Romano cheese
- 6 oz. of crumbled feta cheese
- 2 tsp. of dried dill or 1 tbsp. fresh
- 1 1/2 tsp. fresh mint
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup of chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tsp. of dried oregano
- 1/2 cup of melted butter
- 1 1/2 tsps. of EVOO
- Kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350°
- In a large bowl, combine ricotta cheese, crumbled feta, Pecorino Romano, herbs, salt and pepper, and egg, set aside.
- Meanwhile steam spinach in a microwave safe dish, with a tiny bit of water. Cover with lid or plastic wrap and microwave about four or five minutes. Just until soft. Drain, season with salt and pepper set aside.
- In a medium saute pan, heat a little bit of EVOO over medium high heat, saute onion and garlic about three minutes, then add in drained spinach. Warm through about two minutes. Remove from stove, add in cream cheese and let it melt into spinach and onion mixture. Let cool slightly, then add to ricotta cheese and feta, mix well to combine. Season with Kosher salt and cracked black pepper.
- Microwave butter in a small microwave safe bowl, set aside.
- On a large cutting board, take one sheet of phyllo dough place flat on cutting board and brush lightly with butter. Lay another sheet of phyllo dough on top and do the same thing, making sure to keep the remaining sheets covered with damp kitchen towel. Add another sheet of phyllo dough. You should have three sheets one on top of another. With a pastry cutter, or sharp knife, make three even cuts in dough lengthwise. On the outer corner, take a teaspoonful of filling, placing it at the corner, then take the dough at the corner, overlap it to make a triangle point. Continue laying flat, then overlapping point to make a triangle. **It should look like the old triangle hockey pucks we made as kids, or notes we use to toss in the shape of a triangle. You dig?
- If you are making it into a pie, brush butter inside a 8×8 baking dish. You will be using four sheets of dough and overlapping them in the shape of a square so north and south, east and west get four sheets each for a total of 12. Each time brushing the sheets with melted butter. Place filling in the middle of the sheets flatten evenly. Then begin to enclose the filling with the each section of the phyllo, encasing it like a package if you will. With the scraps of phyllo dough, there are usually cracked and broken dough when you unroll the sheets, begin to to ball up the scraps and butter them placing them as if they were crumpled up paper, this will help cover the filling as well as add texture and crunch to the dough. Once you have crumpled the scraps, you will want to brush them with remaining butter, and slice it. **If you don’t slice it now, it will be harder to do so later and the filling will ooze out as you cut it after it is baked. Cut straight down in two rows vertically, then cut in two rows horizontally, which will make 6 pieces.
- Bake triangles on baking sheet for 20-25 min. Bake layered pie for about 35 to 40 minutes until lightly golden. Let cool for about two minutes then serve immediately. Devour!