SPANAKOPITA

Spanakopita (Greek Spinach and Feta Pie)

This is a classic Greek dish that is a bit time consuming to make but worth the effort. This recipe can be made ahead and frozen (refer to note).
Modified significantly from a recipe written by Bryan Roof in Cook's Illustrated Magazine.
Prep Time1 hr 40 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time2 hrs
Course: Appetizers, Prepare Ahead - Serve Later, Side Dishes - Vegetables, Vegetarian
Servings: 8 servings
Author: Catherine Christiano

Ingredients

  • FILLING
  • 13 ounces spinach rinsed
  • 8 ounces fat free feta cheese If possible buy crumbled, otherwise rinse, pat dry and crumble into fine pieces (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup fat free plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup scallions sliced thin
  • 1 large egg beaten
  • 1 tablespoon mint leaves minced
  • 1 teaspoon dill leaves fresh, minced
  • 2 teaspoons garlic cloves minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • PHYLLO LAYERS
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
  • 1/2 pound phyllo dough 14 by 9 inch, (typically half of standard package) thawed
  • 1 1/2 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese grated fine (about 3/4 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds optional

Instructions

  • FOR THE FILLING: Place a colander in sink. Bring a 6-quart stock pot filled about half way with water to a boil. Add spinach, stir, cook 1 minute until wilted. Drain spinach in colander; use back of rubber spatula or large spoon to press out excess liquid. Transfer spinach to cutting board and roughly chop. Transfer spinach to clean kitchen towel; squeeze to remove excess water. Place drained spinach in large bowl. Add remaining filling ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined. (Filling can be made up to 24 hours in advance and stored in the refrigerator.)
  • FOR THE PHYLLO LAYERS: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 425°F. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Keep phyllo covered with a damp clean towel, otherwise layers will dry and stick together. Using pastry brush, lightly brush 14 by 9 inch rectangle in center of parchment with melted butter to cover area same size as phyllo. Lay 1 phyllo sheet on buttered parchment, and brush thoroughly with melted butter. Repeat with 9 more phyllo sheets, brushing each with butter (you should have total of 10 layers of phyllo).
  • Spread spinach mixture evenly over phyllo, leaving 1/4 inch border on all sides. Cover spinach with 6 more phyllo sheets, brushing each with butter and sprinkling each with about 2 tablespoons Pecorino cheese. Lay 2 more phyllo sheets on top, brushing each with butter (these should not be sprinkled with Pecorino).
  • Working from center outward, use palms of your hands to compress layers and press out any air pockets. Using sharp knife, score pie through the top 3 layers of phyllo into 24 equal pieces. Sprinkle with sesame seeds (if using). Bake until phyllo is golden and crisp, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on baking sheet 10 minutes or up to 2 hours. Slide spanakopita, still on parchment, to cutting board. Cut into squares and serve.
    Spanakopita

Notes

Significant time could be saved if butter can be sprayed instead of brushed on.
Serves 10 to 12 as an appetizer.
Don't thaw the phyllo in the microwave - let it sit in the refrigerator overnight or on the countertop for four to five hours.
To make ahead, freeze the spanakopita on the baking sheet, wrapped well in plastic wrap, or cut the spanakopita in half crosswise and freeze smaller sections on a plate. Bake the spanakopita frozen, increasing the baking time by 5 to 10 minutes.