I love Spanakopita! The combination of spinach, feta, and filo are great dinner, lunch, or breakfast!
Spanakopita means spinach pie. This savoury pastry originated in Greece and typically consists of spinach, feta cheese, onions or spring onions, eggs, and seasoning with a hint of herb flavour coming from dill, mint, or even parsley wrapped in layered filo pastry.
Ingredients for Spanakopita
Spinach takes a starring role in Spanakopita. I once bought frozen Kale instead of spinach…and well, kale is a great substitute.
Yellow onions give a great oniony flavour but don’t be shy – use shallots, spring onions, or sweet onions instead.
Garlic needs to be measured with the heart. I find for our tastes, 6 cloves work wonders.
Feta is the standard cheese used in this dish. Salty, with a little tang.
Olive oil can be substituted with a more neutral flavoured oil or even butter.
Making a spinach pie with filo (phyllo)
It’s easier than it looks. I used to find spinach intimidating. But over the years my love for spinach has grown, it’s hands down my favourite green vegetable. Spinach is very versatile. It can be eaten raw in salads or cooked in a multitude of ways.
There is one trick needed for a great spinach pie – dry spinach. Once the spinach has been cooked and cooled, as much water as possible needs to be squeezed out. Without this crucial step you may end up with a slimy texture, and no one wants that.
Once all your filling is mixed together, it’s time to put together the pie as a whole.
Now, filo also used to intimidate me. The pastry is paper-thin, and it breaks easily. But once you start layering the filo it is a very forgiving pastry.
When layering the filo using butter or olive oil, the pastry becomes pliable and any tears or rips can be easily hidden.
The layering is effortless; you place a sheet of filo on your kitchen counter, then dip your pastry brush into the oil (or melted butter) and gently paint it on covering as much of the surface as possible. Once the sheet is covered, you then add another layer of pastry and repeat until you have created the desired thickness.
Tips for making Spanakopita
Spinach must be as dry as possible. When the spinach has been cooked and has cooled down, take bunches of the spinach and squeeze out as much water as possible.
Fresh or frozen spinach, it doesn’t matter. I usually opt for frozen spinach because of convenience. However, I have used fresh spinach for this pie and have even chopped up leftover fresh spinach and added it to the frozen spinach to use up ingredients.
The quickest and easiest way to cook the spinach is to place the spinach in a colander and douse with a kettle or two of boiling water.
How many eggs needed depends on the amount of spinach you use and the size of the eggs. I typically use 3 – 4 eggs in this recipe, however, if I have very large eggs sometimes only two is needed.
This recipe can be used to either make a single large pie or multiple hand pies. If you are making a single large pie, half the filo is used for the base and the other half for the top of the pie. If you are making smaller pies the filo can be divided equally amongst the number of pies you have decided to make.
Spinach Pie Filling
- 500 grams fresh or frozen spinach )chopped)
- 1 yellow onion chopped
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 2 teaspoon dried dill/parsley/mint
- 3-4 eggs
- 200 grams feta cheese crumbled
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1-2 teaspoon salt
Spinach Pie Pastry
- 1 package filo phyllo pastry
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- Filo must be completely defrosted before use.
- Cooking the Spinach Pie Filling
- Sauté the chopped onion on medium in 1 tablespoon of olive oil until they have just taken on some colour (5-8 minutes). Season the onion with salt and pepper to taste.
- Add in the minced garlic, and sauté for a few minutes until fragrant.
- Add in the dried dill/parsley/mint or mint.
- Spinach can be added to the onion mix and allowed to wilt. Or spinach can be cooked by placing it in a colander and pouring a kettle of boiling water over the spinach.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Once the spinach has cooled, as much water as possible must be squeezed out of the spinach.
- Combine the spinach, onions, garlic, eggs and crumbled feta. Mix to ensure everything is coated in the egg and ingredients are distributed.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C.
- Pie Construction
- Option 1 (Single pie) – divide the filo pastry in half. One half will be used for the bottom of the pie, and the other half for the lid of the pie.
- Place a sheet of filo on your kitchen counter,then dip your pastry brush into the oil (or melted butter) and gently paint the oil on covering as much of the surface as possible. Once the sheet is covered, you then add another layer of pastry and repeat until you have layered the first half of the pastry.
- Add the bottom section of the pastry into your pie or casserole dish, allowing the excess pastry to hang over the sides.
- Fill the pie with your filling.
- Repeat the layering with the second half of the filo and place it over your filling.
- To finish off the pie, fold the edges of the bottom and lid of the pie together and tuck over the top.
- Bake the pie for approximately 45 minutes or until golden brown.
- Option 2 – to make smaller pies divide the spinach and feta filling and filo into 8 (about 2 sheets of filo)- 16 portions (a single sheet of filo).
- If you are using a single sheet of filo per pie, place it on the counter and paint it with oil or butter. Fold the sheet onto itself either in half or in thirds. Place the portion of spinach filling in the corner and fold over to create a triangle. The filo then needs a little bit more brushing with oil or butter to make sure everything seals. Keep folding over until you have a small pie. Repeat until all the filo and filling has been used.
- If using two sheets per pie, simply layer the sheets together, then fold in half or thirds and repeat the step as above. Repeat until all the filo and filling has been used.
- Place the pies seam side down on a baking sheet or tray.
- Bake the pies for 20- 25 minutes or until golden brown.
- Let the pie(s) cool slightly before serving.
Nutrition information is an estimate. If scaling the recipe remember to scale your cook and bakeware accordingly.