Friday, February 29, 2008

Spanikopita (Spinach Pie)

My mom claims that my brother developed a love of spinach because of his childhood obsession with Popeye. I don’t have any such stories, but I also am a huge fan of spinach. Especially when it’s baked with cheese in a flaky phyllo crust. And especially when you haven’t slathered every layer of phyllo dough with butter, so you don’t feel so bad about eating one more.


Spanikopita are traditionally Greek, but I’ve seen them at Middle Eastern restaurants, too. I guess everyone has their own variation on the theme (the Italians have the spinach and cheese calzaone). I suppose my version isn’t totally authentic, what with the mozzarella cheese in there, but I didn’t have enough feta so I had to add what I had on hand. Also, I don’t add dill to mine, as many people do, because I seriously hate dill. So add dill to yours, use all feta cheese, add other herbs or cheeses – whatever floats your boat. I’m sure it will turn out great.



Spanikopita
(makes 6)
12 sheets phyllo dough
16 oz bag frozen chopped spinach
1 tablespoon canola oil
½ white onion, finely chopped (about ½ cup)
1 egg, lightly beaten
2/3 cup feta cheese
2/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
¼ cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
Juice of ½ lemon
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Salt to taste
Spray canola oil
4 teaspoons butter, melted
***************
Remove the phyllo dough from the freezer at least 1 hour before using and keep it in its packaging.
Heat oven to 350° F and line a large baking sheet with foil.
Defrost the spinach (I do this in the microwave oven). Squeeze out as much water as possible. In the meantime, heat the canola oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onion until it is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach and cook for another 5 minutes. Transfer the spinach mixture to a large bowl and let it cool for at least 10 minutes (the mixture can be slightly warm).
Add the egg, cheeses, parsley, lemon juice, and black pepper to the bowl and mix well. Add salt to taste.
Remove the phyllo dough from its packaging. Unroll the sheets and cover them with a barely damp cotton dish cloth or a double thickness of paper towels.
Gently peel off one sheet of phyllo dough and place it on your work surface so that the long edge is vertical (the short edge should be facing you), then cover the remaining dough with the damp towel. Evenly spray the sheet with the canola oil spray. Remove another sheet and place it directly on top of the other one, and spray it with canola oil. Repeat this process until you have layered 4 sheets. Cut the dough down the middle lengthwise so that you have two thick strips.
Place 1/6 of the spinach mixture on the lower corner of the layered phyllo dough and shape it into a triangle so that one side is along the bottom edge and one side is along one of the side edges (it will look like a right triangle). Fold the dough under the spinach mixture up and over like you are folding a flag. When you reach the top, place the pie on the lined baking sheet with the seam facing down. Lightly brush the pie with the melted butter. Repeat this with the remaining strip of dough. Then repeat the entire process (starting with layering the phyllo dough) two times for a total of 6 pies.
Bake the pies until they are golden brown, about 22-25 minutes.
Leftovers are best if you reheat then in the oven or toaster oven.

7 comments:

LisaRene said...

Looks very professional and tasty. Don't you just love working with phyllo dough! It's a staple in my freezer and the filling options are endless.

John said...

I love spanikopita. There's a filling, though greasy, one in Linthicum at the Little Grove Carry Out.

K8teebug said...

I'm with you on the dill hating. This version sounds awesome.

navin said...

Looks much better than the Spinakopitas we got through YDS.

Mona said...

Hmmm, Puffs with a filling of spinach sounds yummy!

www.zaiqa.net

Mona said...

Hmmm, Puffs with a filling of spinach sounds yummy!

www.zaiqa.net

John said...

I love spanikopita. There's a filling, though greasy, one in Linthicum at the Little Grove Carry Out.

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