Spanakopita (Greek Spinach Pie) Recipe Recipe
by Emma Christensen
This classic Spanakopita (Greek Spinach Pie) recipe is for you. It's an easy-to-make spanakopita recipe that's authentic -- stuffed with spinach, onions, feta and herbs draped by crispy, flaky phyllo dough.
Being told to "eat your greens" suddenly doesn't sound so bad when you mix those greens with feta cheese, top them with a crust of golden pastry, and call it spanakopita. Is this cheating? I don't think so, especially when a few easy tweaks keep this dish on the healthy side while still tasting indulgent.
The hero of good spanakopita is, naturally, spinach -- a healthy, vitamin-dense green if there ever was one. Go for glory here with a full two pounds of cooked spinach. And make things easy on yourself by buying bags of frozen spinach. This spinach is just as tasty as freshly blanched greens in the finished dish but involves much less fuss.
Feta is also key to spanakopita's success at the dinner table. I like to use just enough so that there's a hit of tangy flavor in every bite but not so much that it outshines the deep, savory character of the spinach. To lighten the texture of the pie and give it some guilt-free richness, I add cottage cheese. This is not traditional, to be sure, but it does the job.
Finally, the pastry. For an average weeknight meal, I've started making this as a casserole with a top and bottom crust instead of the more-familiar individual triangles. You still get the satisfaction of crunching into a bit of pastry with every bite, just not so much of it. Substituting heart-healthy olive oil for the butter in the pastry layers is another easy switch.
It's not cheating to make greens taste good. Far from it. That's the whole point.
Spanakopita Recipe (Greek Spinach Pie)
Makes 8 servings
- 2 pounds frozen chopped spinach
- 16 sheets frozen phyllo pastry dough
- 1 cup cottage cheese
- 1 onion, diced small
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
- Juice from 1/2 lemon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Spanakopita Recipe Directions
Do ahead: Thaw the spinach and the phyllo dough in the refrigerator overnight.
Heat the oven to 400 F.
Place the cottage cheese in a strainer over a small bowl and let it drain for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, heat a teaspoon of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the onion with 1/4 teaspoon of salt until golden brown, 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, another 30 seconds. Remove from heat.
In a clean dishtowel or several layers of paper towels, squeeze as much liquid as you can out of the spinach. This is easiest if done in a few small batches. Mix together the pressed spinach, drained cottage cheese, cooked onions, feta, lemon juice, nutmeg, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Taste and add more salt or lemon as needed until it tastes good to you. Whisk together the eggs and stir them into the spinach mixture.
Remove the phyllo dough from the refrigerator and unroll it near your workspace. If necessary, cut the pastry to 9- by 13-inch rectangles. Keep the pastry covered with a damp dishcloth at all times to prevent the thin sheets from drying out.
Brush the bottom of a 9- by 13-inch casserole dish with olive oil. Lay one sheet of phyllo on the bottom and brush it with olive oil. Continue layering seven more sheets of phyllo, brushing each with olive oil. Spread the spinach mixture evenly over the pastry. Layer eight more sheets of phyllo over the spinach, giving the top layer a final brush of olive oil. Lightly score the top layer of phyllo into eight squares with a paring knife. (This makes the pie easier to slice after baking.)
Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the pie is golden-brown and the top layers of phyllo are crisp. Allow the pie to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. Leftovers will lose their crispiness but still be good. Keep them refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week.
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