I love Mediterranean cuisine and Greek food is at the top of the list. Spinach pie, or spanakopita, is what I usually order whenever I go to a Greek restaurant. It's got spinach, feta, onion, sometimes ricotta, egg and scallions layered phyllo dough. It's in the burek (or 'borek') family and if you know me personally, you know that I am crazy for all things burek!
I made this spanakopita for "The Food Club" dinner (see previous entry) and I really liked it. I served it hot with a side of tzatziki sauce: about 1 1/2 cups of Greek yogurt, 1 cucumber (seeded and pureed), 2 cloves of garlic, salt to taste, 2 tablespoons of dill, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, juice from a few lemon slices and a dash of white vinegar. You can adjust the saltiness of the sauce to your liking. I just throw all the ingredients together, except for the yogurt, in my mini-hand-held blender. When I get the consistency I want, which is pretty liquidy, I add the mixture to the Greek yogurt.(This recipe is an amalgamation of the tzatziki from Kalynskitchen.com and allrecipes.com)
I've made this recipe twice, and on the second go-round I added a teaspoon of nutmeg, used organic frozen spinach (because I had it in the freezer) and chopped up 1 leek in addition to the onion and scallions.
Also, I learned (the hard way) that you need to thaw out the dough...completely. I guess this is obvious to most people, but for some reason I didn't do it the first time around. I was so anxious to get the pie in the oven before my company arrived, that my patience suffered. The dough broke off in pieces instead of being whole sheets. But not to worry, the taste wasn't compromised. That said, letting the phyllo thaw out first would have made things easier.
This is really pretty easy to make and it tastes great. As they say in Athens and the Peloponnesse, Καλή σας όρεξη!
GREEK SPANAKOPITA (Courtesy of Allrecipes.com with a few optional adaptations mentioned above)
4-6 Servings (more if you used a bigger pan and had a thinner pie)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped (I used 4 scallions)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds spinach, rinsed and chopped (I used baby spinach and didn't chop it)
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
8 sheets phyllo dough
1/4 cup olive oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly oil a 9x9 inch square baking pan.
Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute onion, green onions and garlic, until soft and lightly browned. Stir in spinach and parsley, and continue to saute until spinach is limp, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
In a medium bowl, mix together eggs, ricotta, and feta. Stir in spinach mixture. Lay 1 sheet of phyllo dough in prepared baking pan, and brush lightly with olive oil. Lay another sheet of phyllo dough on top, brush with olive oil, and repeat process with two more sheets of phyllo. The sheets will overlap the pan. Spread spinach and cheese mixture into pan and fold overhanging dough over filling. Brush with oil, then layer remaining 4 sheets of phyllo dough, brushing each with oil. Tuck overhanging dough into pan to seal filling.
Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until golden brown. Cut into squares and serve while hot.