Spanakopita – Greek Spinach and Feta Pie

February 18, 2016

spanakopita
Ahhh the famous spanakopita. A favorite appetizer, meal, and snack not only in Greece but around the globe. Go into any bakery in Greece and you will find this wonderful pie, made with spinach and feta surrounded by crunchy (and often messy) phyllo.

For us, it is a weekly staple and I also keep a bunch in the freezer for a last minute meal. This recipe here is my mothers. Although spanakopita is pretty much a basic recipe consisting of spinach, herbs and cheese (or no cheese for the vegan –nistisimo version), the types of herbs used, the ratio of cheese to spinach, the phyllo, all make the difference. Depending on the recipe you may end up with a delicious pita or with a bland one.

This is a tried and true recipe and works every time. It is easy but you need to remember some key points shared by both my mom and dad:

  • The filling is not supposed to be salty but rather mild and almost sweet. The addition of soft sautéed onions (sometimes leek) and sugar provide that sweetness.
  • Do not add garlic. I know you want to, after all spinach and garlic are often cooked together, but again the idea is to have a somewhat sweet filling, garlic is an “intruder” in this particular recipe.
  • Be careful with the ratio of filling and phyllo. I often see photos of spankopita that has a real thick layer of filling, but when you are using the thin phyllo you have to make sure it can hold the filling. In addition you want to make sure that every bite has the right amount of filling in relation to the phyllo, not too much and not too little. If you want a thicker filling than you will have to use a thicker phyllo (here is a recipe for that).
  • Do not expect pites made with this phyllo to be neat, they are messy. This phyllo is tasty and crunchy but it will break.

Now back to the recipe. So this recipe is actually lighter than the typical spanakopita. There is a just a bit of olive oil in the mix, and you can adjust how much feta you want to add or you can choose not to add feta.

Vegetable pites are such a great way to eat well. Vegetables cooked with herbs wrapped in the thin phyllo provide 1-2 servings of vegetables and about 1/2 to 1 serving starch and can easily be consumed as a meal or as a snack and in Greece we often have them for breakfast. It is a complete vegetarian meal combining vegetables, starch, dairy and good fats. You really do not need anything else.

Here in Greece we have plenty of ready to bake spanakopites that you can find in the freezer of the super market. Unfortunately, nowadays many of them use palm oil in the place of olive oil which defeats the purpose of having a healthy pie. I’d rather make it myself. And this pita is so easy, especially if you are using frozen spinach as I did here.

Greek Spinach and Feta Pie - Spanakopita

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Category: appetizer. entree, snack

Cuisine: Greek, Mediterranean

Yield: 10 pieces

Serving Size: 1 piece

Calories per serving: 223

Fat per serving: 15.5g

Carbs per serving: 14g

Protein per serving: 8.7g

Fiber per serving: 2.1g

Greek Spinach and Feta Pie - Spanakopita

Ingredients

  • 1 pound frozen spinach (thawed)
  • 1 onion finely chopped or 3-4 spring onions chopped (only white parts)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil plus more for brushing the phyllo
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped dill
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint (or dry)
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 10-12 ounces crumbled and grated feta
  • 3 eggs
  • 12 phyllo sheets

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 Celsius)
  2. Heat a medium pan with one tablespoon olive oil.
  3. Sauté the onions until soft.
  4. Add the spinach (make sure you have squeezed out the water).
  5. Sauté spinach with onion for a few minutes.
  6. Add the herbs, nutmeg and sugar and sauté for 2-3 minutes more. Set aside and let it cool.
  7. Grate half of the feta and crumble the rest.
  8. In a small bowl beat the egg and add the feta.
  9. Add the egg mixture to the spinach and add the other tablespoon of olive oil. Mix so that all the ingredients are blended.
  10. Brush a pan that is about 10 X 15 inches with olive oil.
  11. Place a sheet of phyllo in the pan and brush with olive oil. Repeat with 5 more phyllo sheets.
  12. Spread the spinach mixture evenly.
  13. Cover with 6 more phyllo sheets brushing each one with olive oil. Cut the phyllo hanging over the pan or roll in.
  14. Score the top with a knife (do not cut all the way through, just through the top phyllo sheets) for about 10-12 pieces.
  15. Bake for about 40 minutes until phyllo is golden.
  16. Remove from oven and let the pita cool. Cut in pieces.
  17. Enjoy at room temperature or if you want the phyllo crunchy, warm in the oven before serving.

Photo by Elena Paravantes

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17 Comments

  • Reply Shirley February 18, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    Greetings Elena,

    Have been waiting for this recipe. Have enjoyed many of your Blogs and Recipes, and can’t wait to make this one.

    Thanks you for introducing me to Greek food and life.

    Shirley

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD February 19, 2016 at 2:23 pm

      Thank you Shirley!

  • Reply Annette | Food Science Nerd February 18, 2016 at 11:15 pm

    This has been one of my favorite foods since I was a little kid- thanks for the simple yet craveable recipe!

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD February 19, 2016 at 2:24 pm

      Mine too! You are welcome

  • Reply anastasia February 19, 2016 at 1:39 am

    So happy to see another greek using frozen spinach

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD February 19, 2016 at 2:24 pm

      I do prefer fresh, but I always keep frozen around and can make this anytime.

  • Reply Katina Vaselopulos February 19, 2016 at 2:08 am

    I love it!

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD February 19, 2016 at 2:24 pm

      Thanks Katina!

  • Reply Anonymous February 22, 2016 at 11:47 pm

    Curious about the freezing. Do you freeze individual pieces? And how do you do it?

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD February 23, 2016 at 1:34 pm

      I usually freeze 2-3 pieces at a time. First with plastic wrap and then a layer of aluminum foil.

      • Reply Anonymous February 23, 2016 at 7:34 pm

        Thank you for the response. Excuse the probably stupid question, but do you then leave it out to defrost? Throw it in the oven? What?

        • Reply Elena Paravantes RD February 28, 2016 at 9:31 am

          I usually defrost in the refrigerator first, but you could also re-heat frozen.

  • Reply Niko Stamoulis February 26, 2016 at 7:36 pm

    Both the sweet and salty versions of spanakopita are equally as delicious. However, there is something truly special about the pites that are delicately spiced with caramelized or sautéed onions. This particular version is even more delicate with the addition of the nutmeg. Since not everyone likes dill, I often leave it out.

  • Reply Jessica March 31, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    I made your recipe last weekend, it was really good. I am planning to make it again soon!

  • Reply 19 delicious ways to use feta cheese | Olive Tomato April 27, 2016 at 9:17 am

    […] use of feta in the Greek diet is in savory pies. It is added to almost every single pie such as spanakopita (spinach pie), tyropita (cheese pie), hortopita (wild greens pie), and prassopita (leek […]

  • Reply Brianna May 31, 2017 at 7:45 pm

    Made this to eat as lunches throughout the week accompanied by a tomato and cucumber salad and it is delicious! I also appreciate the ease of using frozen spinach. Looking forward to trying other pites!!

    • Reply Elena June 1, 2017 at 1:06 pm

      Thanks Brianna! Glad you enjoyed it!

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