Thursday, April 22, 2010

Greek Spinach and Cheese Pie (Spanakopita)

In light of that last post I figured a little recipe-sharing was in order. :) I made this for my family the other night with pilaf and veggie kabobs, which I'll also post recipes for. Mom found a vegetarian "Joy of Cooking" cookbook at a used book store, and I've been drooling over this recipe ever since. I LOVE Greek food with all of its spinach, feta and kalamata olives. Not a lot of Greek cooking is vegetarian though ("He don't eat no MEAT?!?! Ok, I cook lamb!"), so finding recipes can be tricky!

Keep in mind that "vegetarian" does not always mean "low fat," and even though you might want to stuff your face with this entire spinach pie, it does include an entire stick of butter, so tread lightly. :)

Greek Spinach and Cheese Pie (Spanakopita)
Makes about thirty 2-inch squares or diamonds. Ahem, or sixteen 3-inch ones. :)

2 pounds (or three 10-ounce bags) fresh spinach, washed, stemmed, and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 scallions, finely chopped
1/4 cup snipped fresh dill or chopped fresh parsley
4 large eggs
8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons grated kefalotiri Greek cheese or Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
several grinds of black pepper
Pinch of freshly grated or ground nutmeg
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted
1 pound phyllo dough*, thawed if frozen

*I bought a 1-lb box of phyllo, and only ended up using half of it, so maybe this should call for 1/2 a pound, and the other half can be for baklava!

Working with Phyllo: "Phyllo, literally meaning leaf in Greek, is available frozen in most grocery stores or fresh from Greek and Middle Eastern bakeries. It is essential to keep the thin sheets from drying out. If using frozen phyllo, thaw it slowly, without unwrapping, in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. Once it is thawed, unwrap the phyllo and remove only the number of sheets required for the recipe; re-wrap the remaining sheets in plastic wrap and return to the refrigerator or freezer." - Joy of Cooking: All About Vegetarian Cooking

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and scallions and cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the chopped spinach a handful at a time. Cook until the spinach is wilted and the liquid is released, 5 minutes. Increase the heat to high and cook, stirring often, until the liquid is evaporated and the spinach is dry, 7 to 10 minutes. Stir in the dill or chopped parsley. Let stand until cool enough to handle, then squeeze to remove the excess liquid.

In a medium bowl, lightly beat 4 large eggs. Add the cooked spinach mixture with feta cheese, grated Greek or Parmesan cheese, salt, black pepper and nutmeg. Mix gently.

Lightly oil a 13x9-inch baking pan. Melt butter. Unroll phyllo dough on a dry work surface (be very careful, it's sooooo easy to tear!). Lay 1 sheet of phyllo in and up the sides of the prepared pan and brush lightly with melted butter. Top with 7 more phyllo sheets, brushing each one lightly with butter. Spread the spinach mixture over the layered phyllo. Top with 8 more sheets, brushing each one with butter, including the top sheet. Roll the overhanging phyllo from the sides to form a border all the way around. With a thin, sharp knife, cut the pie into squares or diamonds, but do not cut through the bottom or the filling will leak onto the pan. Refrigerated for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake the spinach pie until crisp and golden, about 45 minutes (check after 30 minutes - if the edges are getting too brown you can cover them with foil). Remove from the oven and let stand for a few minutes. Cut the squares or diamonds right through to the bottom and serve.
. . . and serve, and serve and serve . . .


courtney*adele said...

i'm sure this tasted pretty good, but i can't do feta. chris thinks its the greatest stuff... but i think it tastes like smelly feet... but otherwise it sounds super yummy... staz's girlfriend is greek and he's always telling me about the fabulous foods they eat. so jealous!

Suzie said...

First, how do you know what smelly feet taste like?

Second, smelly feet? No way! Feta is so salty and flavorful and . . . did I mention salty? ;)

You'd probably do fine substituting shredded mozzarella or Monteray Jack.

Samantha said...

oh ma goodness I want to eat that.

J said...

Looks divine! I've only ever had this in small, handheld form, like an hors d'oeurves, but baking one giant one in a pan is genius.

Maybe I'll get a chance to try it out next month. Fingers crossed...

Intention8 said...

I use riccotta and mozzarella when I'm out of feta. Two to one ratio