Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Classic Greek Recipe: Spanakopita

The seven years I spent laboring my youth away in a Greek restaurant did one thing for me, and that's a love for spanakopita. I have a special fondness for all Greek cooking but I especially like making spinach pie. Perhaps it's the feta cheese (or the phyllo dough!) that I love so much but there's something so comforting and fulfilling about warm, fresh out of the oven spanakopita.


When making spinach pie, I usually use a mix of ricotta, feta and Parmesan cheese. This recipe skips the Parmesan and only uses feta and cottage cheese. The cottage cheese adds a rich, creamy flavor that's simply delicious. This recipe also includes a small amount of raw rice which absorbs excess liquid from the spinach as it bakes and keeps the filo crisp.

Try serving with Greek potatoes or orzo, green bean and fennel salad and Greek salad. Simply Recipes has a recipe for a classic Greek salad if you need one. And, if you're looking for a good cookbook, I recommend Vefa's Kitchen, it's a bible of authentic Greek cooking. Opa!


Spanakopita (serves 4)

Filling

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 large bunches of spinach, washed
3/4 cup cottage cheese
1 cup feta cheese
2 tablespoons dill
2 tablespoons parsley
2 teaspoons uncooked long grain white rice
pepper to taste

Pastry
Filo pastry
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter, melted
pastry brush

8 x 8 inch baking dish or spring form tin.

Directions
Preheat oven to 350.

To make the filling, heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook until golden. Stir in the spinach and cook until just wilted. Drain in a colander and press out as much moisture as possible (salad spinner works well). Cool and chop.

In a bowl, combine the spinach with the feta and cottage cheese and herbs. Mix well and add pepper and raw rice grains.

Unwrap the filo pastry and cover with a barely damp cloth to prevent the filo from drying out. Melt the butter with the olive oil. Brush the butter mixture over the baking pan. Now, take one sheet of the filo and lay flat on your working surface. Brush with the butter mixture and place over the baking dish with the side hanging out. Repeat this for seven filo sheets. Then, pour in your spinach mixture.

Take the overlapping filo edges and flip onto the top of the spinach mixture, forming a rustic top. Brush with the butter mixture. Bake in the oven for 40-50 minutes, until golden and crisp.

2 comments:

Melanie said...

I just picked up filo pastry and spinach today to attempt spanakopita. Great coincidence to see you posted this recipe. I usually use the Moosewood, but today I'll try this one.
I like to chop up apples and make turn-overs with the extra filo sheets. Easy and delicious desert.

Melody Wey said...

What good timing, I hope you like this version as much as I do. I'm warming the leftovers in the oven for a late lunch right now.

I also added just a little garlic to the spinach mixture.