Spanakopita is to Greek food as samosas are to Indian food. I have always liked spanakopita but it wasn’t until our trip to Greece in 2013 that I totally fell in love with it. This recipe comes as close as you can get to the authentic taste without having to fly over to Greece, especially if you use fresh spinach! It also freezes well. I normally double the recipe and freeze the second pan. But I take it out of the oven before it fully browns on top. This way, it can be taken out of the freezer, thawed completely and baked again for 20 minutes or so. It comes out completely fresh baked!
1.5 lbs. spinach, chopped (you can substitute frozen, thawed well)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 large onions, diced
1 leek, chopped (or 1 bunch green onions, diced)
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup fresh dill, chopped (or 2 tbsp. dried)
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp crushed chili flakes
1 tsp ground coriander (optional)
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup ricotta or cottage cheese
Salt and ground black pepper according to taste
3 Tbs melted butter
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pkg phyllo pastry sheets
1. Preheat oven to 350F
Wash and drain the chopped spinach very well. If using frozen spinach, thaw completely and squeeze out excess water. Set aside to let it dry.
2. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a deep pot or saute pan. Saute the onions and leek until tender. Add the spinach, parsley, and dill and cook for 5 to 10 minutes until the spinach is wilted and any excess liquid is absorbed. Add nutmeg, chili flakes and coriander. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
3. In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, feta and ricotta cheese. Add the cooled spinach mixture and mix until combined. Taste the mixture and add salt and pepper according to taste.
4. Carefully remove the phyllo roll from the plastic sleeve. If necessary, cut the sheets to fit the size of your pan with a pair of scissors. Place on your working surface in two stacks and cover one stack with wax paper and a damp cloth while working with the other. This is to prevent the sheets from drying.
5. Mix the olive oil and melted butter in a small bowl. Brush the bottom of the pan with a bit of the oil. Then one at a time, layer 10 to 12 sheets on the bottom of the pan brushing each sheet with the olive oil mixture. Place the spinach mixture evenly on top and press with a spatula to flatten. Layer another 10 to 12 sheets, one at a time, on top of the spinach mixture. Again brushing each sheet well.
6. Before baking, score the top layer of phyllo into serving sized squares with a serrated knife, making sure not to puncture filling layer. This is to enable easier cutting of pieces later. You can place the pan in the freezer for a few minutes to harden the top layers.
7. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the pastry turns a golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.