This Greek spinach pie is one of the best known recipes in Greek cuisine. It is simple, although managing phyllo pastry may seem challenging the first two or three times. Serve spanakopita warm as a vegetarian main or side dish. Serve it cold as a snack or appetizer.
Cook the filling
- Heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Sauté scallions for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly. Add spinach and cook for a further 3-4 minutes.
- Remove pan from heat and let cool slightly, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in chopped parsley, dill, beaten eggs, and feta cheese. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
- Set aside until phyllo pastry is ready.
Bake the pastry
- Preheat oven to 350ºF (175ºC)
- Butter a 9 X 13 inch (22x33 cm) baking pan. Place one phyllo sheet in pan. Brush sheet well with melted butter, then put another sheet on top of it. Brush this one with melted butter. Add phyllo sheets, brushing each one with butter, until there are at least 6 sheets - you can do 7 or 8 too.
- Now is the time to spread spinach filling, evenly, over the prepared stack of phyllo pastry sheets. Trim off dried edges of phyllo then fold excess phyllo over the filling.
- Stack a second heap of 6 phyllo pastry sheets over the spinach filling. Place one at a time and brush each one with melted butter before adding the next on top.Trim off excess phyllo. Brush top of pie with melted butter
- Bake on the middle rack for 40 minutes, or until crust is golden.
- Leave to stand for 5-6 minutes before cutting into squares.
To prepare fresh spinach leaves, remove first large, tough stems. Then wash spinach leaves in cold water to remove all dirt and sand. Drain all water - squeeze with your hands, if necessary - and dry on paper towels. Chop leaves into1-inch pieces.
If using frozen spinach, thaw - the microwave is a good method - then place thawed spinach in a colander and drain excess liquid. Press spinach with the back of a large spoon, if necessary, to squeeze out all moisture.
Use kitchen scissors or a knife to trim the excess phyllo.
For a meal that is lower in saturated fat, try substituting some olive oil for the butter. For a more substantial meal, some cooked chicken, chopped, to the filling.
Phyllo pastry is a type of dough, paper-thin. Buy either fresh and chilled, or frozen. Keep unused sheets covered with a slightly damp kitchen towel - barely damp - as phyllo sheets become brittle if they dry out.