The spanakopita is a dish Greek iconic and inescapable. A pie made from filo pastry (most of the time) garnished with spinach, feta, spring onions … This is the pie that you buy from the baker, that you find on large tables as a starter or main course, perfect for a picnic and the one that accompanied me enormously during my travels in Greece. In summer, with just a salad on the side, it’s perfect.
It means spinach pie (or bread with spinach but there are also versions with cheese or other vegetables). In fact, the concept is very widespread from the Balkans to the Middle East: from the thin and crispy dough, stuffed, which becomes a snack. The shapes can vary (I give you the large family size but there are also often triangles). But the stuffing can also vary depending on which one is on dry land or islands, town or country, the more sumptuous version includes phyllo dough, cheese, and melted butter (which I replaced with olive oil in the more frugal version).
Passed down from generation to generation, spanakopita is for many Greeks a family recipe. The dough is made from thin homemade sheets made from water and flour. It is always buttered before baking in the oven. Sometimes you can also use puff pastry or even a calzone-like dough. The spanakopita can be in the form of small individual triangular puff pastry or a large rectangular pie. Regardless of the form, it is worth tasting! In some parts of Greece, they opt for a smaller amount of spinach. The pie is then completed with other vegetables such as leek, chard or sorrel. Spanakopita is a dish that is well suited to vegetarians. There are even vegan versions. Originally, these variants were designed for religious fasts. Instead of cheese, onions, celery and various aromatic herbs are used. You can also find a spanakopita that substitutes cheese for tofu.
A bit of Greece on the plate
The spanakopita brings together several typical Greek foods on your plate! Spinach is produced in large quantities in the country. It is also a vegetable that the Greeks have been consuming since Antiquity. Even then, citizens ate a mixture of grains, vegetables, and cheeses. It is not known whether feta originated in Homer’s time, but it is known that there is such a cheese. The writer talks about it in his Odyssey. The term “feta” appeared much later, in the 19th century, but is indeed part of a long tradition. With the spanakopita, the harmony between spinach and feta is all found. This mixture combined with filo dough gives a delicious dish, both tender and slightly crunchy. You just have to taste it to start asking for more.
Easy Recipe For Spanakopita
The inside of spanakopita is filled with steamed and drained spinach, sautéed onions, feta cheese, egg, and seasonings. These ingredients are then wrapped around a layer of phyllo dough, which forms the pastry’s flakey exterior. The pastry is cut into triangular or square pieces and brushed with butter or oil and then baked until golden brown. Other soft-white cheeses may be used in addition to feta. Some recipes call for a crust made out of flour and water instead of phyllo dough for a crunchier exterior.
Preheat the oven to 180 ° C.
Sauté the chopped onion (the white) in a little oil for 5 minutes. Wash then sauté the spinach in a frying pan or sauté pan with the onion and mix for a few minutes until they "fall" and lose a little water. Drain and cut with a knife.
Crumble the feta in a salad bowl then add the spinach, the chopped herbs (including the green of the new onion), the spring onion and mix. Add the eggs, salt and pepper.
Brush a springform pan with olive oil (I used two 18 cm molds otherwise you can opt for a rectangular mold about 30 cm long). Place a sheet of filo pastry (if the mold is small, cut it in half) and brush it with olive oil. Keep the rest of the leaves well covered as they dry quickly. Proceed in the same way with 8 other sheets (they will protrude from the mold, this is normal).
Then spread the stuffing and cover with the remaining sheets of filo pastry, placed one by one, and brushed each time with olive oil. Fold the edges of the dough that are out on the pie, brushing more with oil.
Bake for about forty minutes. The dough should brown and become crisp. Just let cool, then delicately unmold and serve with a salad.