I should admit straight out that this is Spanakopita, or Greek Spinach Pie, is one of my all time favorites, and such a breeze to make you won’t believe it. As I typically rebel against most cooking ‘rules’, this whole filo thing was no exception. Traditional cooking rules say you must brush melted butter between each and every layer of the super thin filo dough in order to achieve the desired crispy layers between each individual sheet. I can understand the need to do this for delicate pastries, but this big guy can handle a little easier care. I can show you a little trick that will remove all of that work and most of those calories you wouldn’t even taste anyhow, and in just a few minutes you’ll have, well…this. The top is crispy and crunchy and has toasted pine nuts and just a sprinkling of cheese. The interior is rich and creamy and full of feta cheese, cottage cheese, and fresh, chopped spinach. Let’s not dawdle any longer, jump on over to the blog and I’ll prove it to you!
Spanakotpita is a Greek Spinach Pie, and I have seen tons of different iterations. I tend to take the easy as possible route, so here’s how I go about things: First is the filling. Spinach is beautiful in Farmer’s Markets right now, so if possible you might want to grab a couple of big bunches. You will need 2 cups after all is said and done. The spinach is quickly wilted in a hot pan, set aside to cool, and then you squeeze the living daylights out of it to make sure most of the liquid is removed. Chop it up nice and fine and set aside. The filling is simple as can be: cottage, feta cheese, a couple of eggs and a pinch of salt. Here’s where the trick to crispiness comes in. You will be layering a base and middle layer of filo in this guy, but we really only care about crispy on the very top. Layer the filo about 4-5 sheets deep on the top, then spray with olive oil. Smoosh up the edges with your fingers to make sure you get oil in and around all of the layers, spray the top lightly, then add a little parmesan and some pine nuts. Done.
I make this is a large 10×15 inch baking dish because I prefer it that way, but feel free to use a 13×9 inch size – it will have more filling per bite (nothing wrong with that) but take a little longer to bake. Look! He’s all done!
Now what’s this about a crispy crust?? I always horn my way in to make sure I can grab a corner piece.
But there’s more to all this than just the crust – let’s check out that center…
This is really good hot out of the oven, but it travels well and is great for a potluck or picnic too.
I have now made myself so hungry I can’t stand it. Hope it had the same effect on you!!
- 1 lb. feta cheese, crumbled
- 24 ounces cottage cheese
- 2 large eggs
- 2 large bunches fresh spinach, sautéed until just wilted, then squeezed dry and finely chopped (end result should be about 2 cups chopped spinach) OR 2 packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
- 2-3 tablespoons pine nuts
- 4-5 tablespoons Parmesan cheese or other hard cheese blend, grated (optional)
- Olive oil for brushing between filo layers
- 1 package filo dough
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Liberally spray either a 10x15 or 9x13 inch-baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a medium sized bowl, combine the feta cheese, cottage cheese, and eggs.
- Unwrap filo dough. Pull off 4 sheets and line the baking dish width-wise. The bottom of the pan should be half covered with dough at this point. Pull another four sheets of filo and line the other half of the baking dish.
- Spread half of the feta and cottage cheese mixture over the filo dough. Dot with one half of the spinach.
- Pull off three sheets of filo and cover width-wide, one half of the feta and spinach layer. Pull off three more sheets of filo and cover the other side of the pan.
- Spread the remaining feta and cottage cheese mixture over the second layer of filo dough. Dot with the remaining spinach.
- Pull off five sheets of filo, and cover, width-wise, the second feta and spinach layer. Pull off five more sheets of filo and cover the other side of the pan.
- Using a kitchen scissors, trim any over hanging filo dough around the edges of the pan so you have no more than about one inch that is not directly covering the cheese mixture.
- Using your fingers, ‘smoosh up’ the filo dough, which just means doing your best to get in there and separate the layers. Either drizzle or spray olive oil over the edges (don’t be stingy) and the top of the spanakopita.
- Using your fingers again, work that olive oil in as well and as deep as you can around the side layers of filo. Try to separate the individual filo sheets as best as you can.
- Using a sharp paring knife, cut about 6, one inch slits in the top of the spanakopita.
- Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese (if using), and sprinkle pine nuts over the top.
- Bake for between 35-45 minutes, or until the spanakopita turns a golden brown and puffs up slightly. You should be able to see the oil that has dripped down inside of the baking dish bubble.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes to set up.
- Chow down either hot or at room temperature.