Spinach Pie (Spanakopita), a Greek favourite that’s easy and relatively inexpensive to make. Earthy leaves of spinach and herbs, combined with feta and ricotta are encased in golden flaky pastry. Seriously healthy, Spinach Pie is just as good for lunch as it is for dinner, and it’s vegetarian friendly too!
With my hand on my heart, l can honestly say that when my children were younger, Spinach Pie was on our dinner table on a weekly basis. It is still a family favourite, just not as often, and the best thing is that my daughters now make it for me!!
What goes in a Spinach Pie
Here’s a quick overview of the ingredients.
Frozen spinach is what l prefer to use. It’s just easy and convenient. Quite a lot of spinach is packed into those little frozen packets.
Dill and parsley are the favoured herbs for this pie because they go so well with spinach.
Feta cheese adds saltiness to the Spinach Pie. I use either Greek or Bulgarian feta because they both have a strong flavour and a crumbly texture.
Ricotta cheese is a far more subtle cheese and it gives the pie its creaminess. There are different types of ricotta; some are more moist and softer than others. Try to buy a ricotta that still holds its shape well when cut into portions (see photo). Ricotta that’s very soft will add too much moisture to the pie.
Filo pastry encases the ingredients and forms the golden, crispy layers. Some brands are definitely better than others. In Australia, l prefer the brand known as Antoniou Filo Pastry; the sheets separate beautifully and don’t dry out as quickly.
So Many Versions
You only have to google images for spinach pie (spanakopita) to see how many versions there are. My spinach pie is quite a bit taller and holds a lot more filling than your typical spanakopita.
When cooking for the family, l needed a pie that was substantial enough to fill their bellies and only required a salad on the side. For these reasons, l was a bit hesitant to title my post as spanakopita. I shall keep that for another post when l make a more traditional version.
By the way, we always have left overs which are great for lunch the next day.
Preparation Time: 30 mins
Cooking Time: 45 – 50 mins
Serves: 6 – 8
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped finely
- 3 – 4 spring onions, sliced thinly
- 2 x 250 g (9oz) packets of frozen spinach (thawed) (note 1)
- 200 g (7 oz) fetta cheese, crumbled
- 150 g (5 oz) ricotta cheese, crumbled (note 2)
- 1 tbsp dill, roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp parsley, roughly chopped
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- salt & pepper to taste
- 8 sheets of filo pastry (note 3)
- extra olive oil for brushing
- Preheat the oven to 200 C (375 F)
- Squeeze out excess water from spinach. Set aside.
- Heat olive oil in a medium frypan over low – moderate heat. Add the chopped onion and spring onions. Sauté until very soft and transparent.
- Add the spinach to the frypan. Sauté over moderate heat until most of the residual liquid has evaporated. Tip into a large bowl. Set aside cool.
- Remove the filo pastry from the packet and slightly dampen a tea-towel. Place the tea-towel over the pastry sheets to prevent them from drying out.
- Lightly oil a 20 cm (8″) spring form baking tin. Lay one sheet of pastry over it. The edges will hang over the sides. Arrange each sheet at a slightly different angle as you work your way around the tin in a clockwise direction. Sprinkle each sheet with olive oil (notes 4 & 5).
- Add the feta, ricotta, dill, parsley, eggs, salt and pepper to the cooled onion and spinach mixture. Mix until they just come together. Make sure there are no big lumps of feta or ricotta cheese. Have a taste. Adjust seasoning if necessary.
- Tip the mixture into the baking tin. Fold overhanging edges towards the centre of the tin. Brush the top of the pie with olive oil. Return any remaining filo sheets to their packaging. Seal well and freeze for future use.
- Divide the pie into quarters by scoring the top layers of the pastry with a sharp knife. Do not go all the way to the bottom. This will allow any steam that builds up to be released.
- Place the baking tin in the lower half of your oven and bake for 45 minutes or until golden and crispy. If the top of the pie colours too quickly, cover it loosely with foil (note 6).
- Allow pie to cool for a few minutes before removing it from the tin. Spinach Pie goes beautifully with Greek Salad. Enjoy!
- Avoid buying spinach that has been frozen into cubes as they tend to be hard to break apart.
- Some brands of ricotta are softer and more moist than others. If you have bought a softer variety, place ricotta in a strainer or fine mesh colander. Place strainer over a bowl, cover loosely with cling film, and allow it to stand in the refrigerator overnight.
- The filo pastry should be removed from the freezer the night before and allowed to thaw in the fridge.
- A spring form baking tin makes it very easy to transfer the pie to a plate. It is also acts as a good conductor of heat. If you don’t have one, all is not lost. Use whatever baking tin or dish you have. I use a 20 cm (8″) baking tin as l like nice thick slices of pie.
- I no longer brush each sheet meticulously with olive oil. Instead, l load the pastry brush with oil and then flick the oil onto the sheets.
- If l suspect that my pie may be a bit too wet on the bottom, just before cooking time is up, l place the baking tin on the floor of the oven for a couple of minutes to crisp up the base.
Spinach Pie is a revised version first posted on 13/02/18