Spanakopita is a type of spinach pie made with filo/phyllo pastry, spinach, and feta cheese. Crispy phyllo pastry with melt in mouth spinach filling is one of the best Greek dishes I have tasted. Being a vegetarian in a foreign country can be a tough thing but you also get to try vegetarian dishes from different cultures. I had some wonderful Greek friends who modified their dishes for my no egg diet and this is one of them.
This is a very simple dish with very few ingredients. Fresh spinach leaves, fresh paneer, and Feta cheese mixed with basic spices like salt and pepper make a wonderful melt in mouth filling. Try to make fresh paneer for the filling and you will not even realize the absence of egg in the filling. Curdle the milk and strain it using a muslin cloth. Hang it for an hour or till all the water is drained out and you have fresh crumbly paneer ready. You can also use ricotta cheese. Feta cheese by itself is very salty so be careful with salt in the filling.
Make sure the oven is preheated and keep checking the pastry. Don’t let it get too brown or it will taste bitter. Traditionally it is brushed with butter but olive oil works just fine too. Spankopita can be eaten warm or cold.
Makes 12 pieces
- 2 cups spinach washed and finely chopped
- ½ cup feta cheese crumbled
- ¼ cup ricotta cheese or fresh paneer
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 3-4 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 8 phyllo pastry sheets
- 1 green chilli
- ¼ tsp black pepper powder
- Salt to taste
- Olive oil/butter to brush (appx 3-4 tbsp)
Feta cheese is very salty. Always taste the filling and add the salt in the end when using feta cheese in any dish.
Defrost or thaw the phyllo sheets. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan. Add chopped garlic and sauté. Add chopped green chillies and onions and cook for 1-2 mins. Add chopped spinach and mix well. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the spinach is wilted. Remove from heat and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the crumbled feta cheese, crumbled ricotta/paneer, and pepper powder. Mix well and check for seasoning. Add salt now if required.
Take an 8 inch baking dish. Brush olive oil or butter at the base and layer a phyllo sheet to cover the pan. Brush some oil/butter on this sheet and layer one more sheet. Repeat this for two more sheets. Now add the spinach mixture and spread evenly. Cover the spinach filling with a phyllo sheet and brush oil/butter. Add 3 more sheets in the same pattern. Brush the top sheet with oil/butter again and put the baking dish in the preheated oven for 20-25 mins. The top should be golden and filling should be warm. Let the dish cool down for 5-10 minutes before cutting to make pieces.
Cut in squares and serve.