Saturday, March 13, 2010

Greek Style Spinach Pie - Spanakopita

The first time I made this it took hours, mainly because there was such a big variation in the recipes I found. Apparently, Spinach Pie is one of those recipes that everyone makes their own way. Sort of like my Nanny Mary's lasagna...we all ate it growing up, and we all make it a little bit differently now, and we all claim it is the authentic recipe. (All refers to my four brothers and me.) There was also a lot of variation in quantities, and many were not clearly defined. This is my recipe which uses an ingredient list compiled from several other recipes. I cannot vouch for its authenticity, but I believe the spirit of the real thing is present here.

2 10 oz bags pre-washed spinach
1 leek, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
6 Tbs pine nuts
1 1/2 cups parsley, chopped
6 Tbs dill, chopped
4 Tbs fresh mint, chopped
1 pkg fillo dough, defrosted as directed (I used one roll from a 2-pack)
1/4 cup melted butter
olive oil
kosher or sea salt
nutmeg, ground

  1. Thaw fillo dough as instructed on package.
  2. Toast and chop pine nuts. (Toast in hot, ungreased skillet until just brown)
  3. Chop washed and drained spinach, onions and herbs.
  4. Heat 3-4 Tbs olive oil in large skillet.
  5. Saute onions until softened.
  6. Add spinach, stirring frequently. When spinach wilts it will release some liquid. When this starts to bubble, add parsley, dill, mint, pine nuts, nutmeg, salt and pepper.
  7. Cook for about 10 minutes.
  8. Transfer to colander and allow to drain for 2-3 hours.
  9. Crumble feta and add to spinach mixture. Mix thoroughly.
  10. Preheat oven to 350. Brush bottom of a 9x12 baking dish with olive oil.
  11. Lay a sheet of fillo dough in the bottom of the pan.
  12. Brush with melted butter.
  13. Continue to add sheets of fillo, brushing all but the final sheet with butter. I used 11 sheets on the bottom.
  14. Add spinach mixture on top of fillo. Spread evenly. Add remaining (about 11) fillo sheets on top of mixture, brushing with butter as before. Brush the very top sheet with olive oil.
  15. Using a sharp knife, cut the top layer of fillo only into serving size pieces. This makes it much easier to cut later. Do not cut through the bottom layer of dough.  
  16. Bake 30-40 minutes until golden.
  17. Let stand at least 20 minutes before cutting and serving. This dish is meant to be served warm or at room temperature, rather than piping hot. 

Fillo dough comes in two individually wrapped rolls per package. Set one out to thaw a few hours before assembling your pie. The other can go back in the freezer.

Onions should measure about 2 cups when chopped. Use your intuition.  Add or subtract as you wish. You can use any type of onion, but the combination of different flavors honors the complexity of this traditional dish.

Toast pine nuts in a dry skilled over medium heat, shaking the pan frequently. Don't overdo it. Take them off the heat the moment they start to turn golden. About 6-8 minutes. You'll know. Chop them or place them between wax paper and crush with a rolling pin.

Use prewashed spinach. It is ready to use and dry!

Chop all ingredients first and assembly is a snap.

Make certain filling is well drained. You don't want any extra liquid in this dish.

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