Spanakopita, a traditional Greek dish, is a savory pastry filled with spinach and feta cheese. This delicious and nutritious dish is a staple in Greek cuisine and is popular worldwide. For those of you who are vegetarian, this savory pie will delight you.
Spanakopita in Greek translates to spinach pie although it also contains cheese, usually feta. Layers of flaky phyllo pastry hold a creamy spinach, ricotta and feta filling. The cheese makes it creamy, dill and scallions add freshness and flavor. For a perfect spanakopita, never cook the spinach leaves before adding them to the pie, it will cook in the cheese mixture leaving it vibrant and flavorful.
The origins of spanakopita can be traced back to ancient Greece. Spinach was commonly cultivated in the region and was used in various dishes. The use of phyllo dough, which is the main ingredient of spanakopita, can also be traced back to the Byzantine era. The dish became popular in Greece during the Ottoman rule when Greek cuisine was heavily influenced by Turkish cuisine.
There are many variations of spanakopita, depending on the region and personal preferences. Some people add other ingredients such as mushrooms, or sun-dried tomatoes. Some variations use different herbs and spices, such as mint or oregano, to add a different flavor. Spanakopita can also be made into individual appetizer-sized portions, known as spanakopitakia.
Spanakopita is a delicious and nutritious dish that has been enjoyed for centuries in Greece and around the world. Its unique combination of spinach, feta cheese, and phyllo dough creates a savory and satisfying vegetarian meal.
I have created a step by step photo gallery (below the recipe) for you to follow so that you can see what the process looks like. You don’t have to layer the phyllo the way I do with the crumbled sheets, it adds texture. If you want to keep it simple you can just layer the sheets, brushing with butter between each layer. Alternatively, you could make mini pies by taking 2 sheets and brushing with butter, adding filling in the middle then just fold them into a parcel (butter, butter, butter as you fold), then place the parcels on a sheet pan (with panko) and bake according to the recipe. This way there’s no cutting and everyone gets their own “pie”.
- ¼ sheet pan
- 1 pkg phyllo pastry at room temperature
- 1½ cups salted butter, melted
- 1 cup panko
- 1 lb fresh spinach leaves, chopped
- 3 tsp dill, dried
- 6 green onions, sliced small
- 1 lb ricotta cheese *16 ounces
- 1 lb greek feta, crumbled *16 ounces
- 3 large eggs
- 3-4 Tbsp Olive oil
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- Preheat your oven to 400℉
To Make the Filling:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment add 1 lb ricotta cheese, 1 lb greek feta, crumbled, 6 green onions, sliced small, 3 tsp dill, 3-4 Tbsp Olive oil, ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp pepper and mix on low until combined
- Add the chopped spinach a handful at a time, combining after each handful until combined with the cheese mixture
- In a small bowl, beat the eggs with a fork then add them to the cheese and spinach mixture and mix on low until combined
To Assemble the Pie:
- sprinkle the panko evenly onto the bottom of the sheet pan into a thin layer
- Take 3 sheets of phyllo and lay it on top of the bread crumbs, if some hangs over that's fine you can tuck it in later.
- Sprinkle the top layer with some of the melted butter
- next take 2 sheets of phyllo and lay it so that half is in the pan and half is hanging outside of the pan. Do this on each side (so you have pastry hanging off all 4 sides), sprinkle with butter between the layers
- Next, place all of the cheese and spinach filling over the top of the phyllo and then fold the phyllo in over the filling, sprinkling butter between the layers as you go
- set aside 6 sheets of phyllo, then with the remaining sheets, lay them on top of the phyllo you just folded over top of the filling, again drizzle butter between the layers.
- With the 6 sheets you set aside, taking each sheet, crumple it like an accordian and place it on top of the pastry along the short edge of the pan, repeat with all 6 sheets until the top is covered, then drizzle the remaining butter over the top, brush if needed.
- Cut the spanakopita into 12 equal pieces (or more if you want them smaller)
- Bake for 55 minutes or until golden brown on the middle rack of your oven
- Once done, let sit for 15 minutes before cutting and serving.