Spanakopita

Spanakopita, ‘Spinach Pie’, has been eaten by the Greeks since ancient times. With perfectly crisp layers of Phyllo (filo) pastry and a comforting filling of typically spinach and feta, this Greek pie can be enjoyed hot or cold, any meal of the day.

 

Spanakopita was one of the main Greek dishes Zoy consumed growing up. It was always laid out at Greek Church events and family gatherings but his favourite memory of the dish was that of his Auntie Kath’s. She was like a Yia Yia to him and she would always make him her Spanakopita whenever he stayed over.

 

Every Greek family has their own recipe. This one is closest to another Aunty of his, Aunty Anne’s. Which, if you’re ever in Ballarat (Victoria) you can try it at the restaurant she runs with her two sons - ‘P. Frangos and Sons’.

Ingredients

(Serves 6-8)

  • Olive Oil (extra-virgin), for cooking and brushing

  • 2 bunches Silverbeet, washed, roughly chopped, stems removed

  • 3 cloves Garlic, chopped

  • Squeeze of half a Lemon

  • 2 large Celery sticks, chopped

  • Handful of Dill, chopped

  • Small handful of Parsley, chopped

  • 6 Spring Onions, chopped

  • 200g Feta Cheese

  • Salt and Pepper

  • 2 Eggs

  • Handful to 1/4 cup Breadcrumbs

  • 375g packet of Filo Pastry

Note: Let your phyllo pastry thaw on the kitchen bench while you’re preparing the other ingredients. When thawing, leave it in the packet otherwise it will dry out too quickly. Remove from packaging when ready to use and place a slightly damp cloth/tea towel over it to prevent it from drying out while you’re assembling. 

Method

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees and heat a splash of olive oil in a large frypan.

  2. In batches, sauté the silverbeet and garlic until the silverbeet has softened (don’t fully cook/wilt) and add a squeeze of lemon. Set the softened silverbeet aside in a bowl to cool.

  3. Meanwhile, in a separate large bowl, combine the celery, dill, parsley and spring onions. Mix well with hands to combine.

  4. Once the silverbeet has cooled, squeeze out all the excess liquid with your hands and add the silverbeet to the mixture, mixing with your hands to incorporate with the other ingredients.

  5. Crumble the feta cheese over the mixture and mix with hands to incorporate.

  6. Add salt and pepper to taste (Note: depending on how salty your feta is you may not need to add any salt, taste mixture before doing so).

  7. Whisk the eggs with a fork add them to the mixture, mixing well with hands to incorporate. 

  8. Starting with a handful, only adding more if needed, add the breadcrumbs and mix. You may not need to use all the breadcrumbs, it is just to help bind the ingredients.

  9. Set aside and prepare a medium-large glass/pyrex baking dish by brushing all over the inside with olive oil.

  10. Brush one sheet of phyllo pastry with olive oil and place it on bottom of dish, olive oil side up. Brush second sheet of pastry with olive oil and place it on the right side of the dish so that a third of the pastry sheet is hanging over the edge of the dish. Continue with the phyllo pastry, brushing each sheet with olive oil and layering slightly over each side of the dish. Repeat this three times so that 12 sheets of pastry have been used to layer the bottom and sides of the dish.

  11. Spread the filling evenly inside the phyllo-lined baking dish.

  12. Once the filling is spread evenly, lay 6-8 sheets of phyllo on top of the mixture in the centre, brushing each layer with olive oil, then fold over the layers of phyllo hanging over the edges to cover the rest of the mixture, sealing the edges and brushing with olive oil.

  13. Bake in the oven for roughly 45 minutes or until golden brown and crispy on top and baked on the bottom.

  14. Cut into square or diagonal slices and serve warm.

The Spanakopita will keep well if properly stored in the fridge for 3-4 days. To reheat, simply place in a medium-heated oven until warmed through. It can also be enjoyed cold.