Spanokopita is a wonderful recipe that can be made year-round. It’s wholesome, filling, light and at the center of every family’s dinner table about once per week. Origin is Greek, with a direct translation of “spinach in bread’ (“spanak” in “pita”). Spinach is chock full of fiber, Vitamins A, C and K, protein, calcium, and iron. In the winter, when this leafy green is harvested, spinach is served at least 3 times per week in various forms (sauteed in a tomato sauce, with meatballs, in soup, salads, and in my favorite: spinach pie or Spanakopita).
● 1 box of phyllo dough
● 1 box of fresh or frozen spinach* (16 oz frozen, 1 large bag fresh, 1 bunch fresh)
● 3 bulbs of garlic, minced
● Salt, pepper to taste
● Crumbled feta cheese (a lot)
● Ricotta cheese (approximately 5 oz)
● 3 tablespoons of dried mint
● Mixture of Olive & Canola oils (50:50 ratio)
Preparing the Spinach Filling
1. In a medium saucepan, gently saute the garlic in some oil. Once translucent (about 2 3 minutes), add the frozen/fresh spinach.
2. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Remove from heat and place in large bowl. Add dried mint and mix. Set aside.
Preparing the Cheese Filling
1. In a medium bowl, add the ricotta and feta cheeses. Mix thoroughly. If too dry, drizzle a few drops of olive oil for a pasty texture. Set aside.
Preparing the Raising Agent for the End
The phyllo dough is quite dry, papery. We must create a “glue” to keep them together and to help it rise for a fluffy, buttery taste.
Below are 3 Raising Agent variations. You can decide which one is best for your family, based on cholesterol concerns, flavor, and what is easily found in your pantry.
Agent 1: ● 2 eggs ● ½ cup milk ● Black pepper, teaspoon
Agent 2: ● 1 egg ● ½ cup of chicken broth/stock/bouillon
Agent 3: ● 1 egg ● Plain Greek yogurt ● Olive oil ● Salt
Preparing the Raising Agent “Glue” Whichever “glue” you decide to use, the method is all the same: In a large bowl, beat the “glue” ingredients until smooth. Once smooth, set aside.
Putting it all together!
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F
2. Unroll your phyllo carefully so as not to tear
3. Take a large rectangular pan and spray the bottom with nonstick spray or add some oil
4. Place one or two layers of phyllo on the bottom of pan. Using a cooking brush, take the olive oil & canola oil mixture and brush it on the phyllo, careful not to tear.
5. Continue to do this until you are halfway through your box of phyllo.
6. In the middle, add the Spinach Filling and spread across the phyllo.
7. Add the Cheese Filling on top of the Spinach Filling.
8. Continue adding sheet by sheet (or by two’s) the remaining phyllo. With each layer, continue brushing with oil to keep moist.
9. Once finished with all the phyllo, take a sharp knife and cut into diamond or square shapes.
10. Take your Raising Agent and add to the cut pieces so it soaks into all the phyllo.
11. Brush some of the Raising Agent onto the top (for a golden look)
12. Allow the spanakopita to rest for minimum of 20 minutes (and preferably overnight!).
13. Place in the oven on middle rack and cook for 20 30 minutes, or until golden.
Excellent side dishes to add to Spanakopita: a large salad, tzatziki and a glass of chilled white wine!
Do you have another variation of spanokopita? I’d love to hear it!
Discover your Inner Aphrodite. . . .