Spanakopita

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Spanakopita is a Greek pastry filled with a mixture of spinach, cheeses, pine nuts and other flavors.  The pastry is a compilation of filo dough layered with butter and a sprinkle of bread crumbs for a crunchy texture.  I make this two different ways.  One is folding the spinach mixture into the shape of a triangle (like folding a flag), which is the traditional way.  I also make this in a 9×13 pan layering phyllo dough on the bottom, then spinach filling, topped with layers of phyllo dough, for a quicker meal on the table.  While making the triangle version takes a little more time, it allows more of the crunchy pastry to surround the delicious spinach mixture, which is my personal favorite.  Served with some grilled chicken or steak on the side and I’m a happy camper.

Another Greek pastry that I have shared in another post is Baklava.  This buttery sweet treat is layered with cinnamon, sugar and pecans or walnuts.  To die for!  You must try it also.  Check out that post!

Today, I am going to show you how to make the folded version of my Spanakopita.

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Here’s how I make them.

Spanakopita

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This does take a little planning since the chopped spinach and phyllo dough are typically frozen and will need to thaw.  I do recommend using frozen chopped spinach as opposed to the fresh.

Place a clean kitchen towel in a medium size mixing bowl.  Put the thawed chopped spinach in the towel and gently squeeze the as much of the water out as you can.

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Discard the water and put the drained spinach in the dry mixing bowl.

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In a small skillet, saute’ the onion in olive oil over medium-low heat until tender and translucent.

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Add the onions to the chopped spinach along with the Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, nutmeg, salt, fresh cracked pepper, and lightly beaten eggs.

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Stir to combine well.

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Add the finely diced or shredded Monterrey Jack cheese (or Feta if you prefer) and toasted pine nuts.  Paul and I are not huge fans of Feta cheese and since Monterrey Jack cheese melts so nicely in this dish, that’s what I use.

Toasting pine nuts is so easy and quick.  Just click on the link and I’ll show you how!  Afterwards, store any extras in the freezer to keep them fresh.  I typically toast more than I need so I can have them on hand for later!

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Mix to combine.

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Ok, let’s talk a little about my set up for assembling these beautiful pastries!  This is what works for me.  I use a cutting board that is larger than the phyllo dough sheet.  The sheets are about 9″x14″, so anything larger than that.  Behind that I have my spinach mixture with a 1/3 measuring cup, a small bowl of bread crumbs and another bowl of melted butter with a pastry brush.  Important to be organized!  On the left I have the phyllo dough ready to open along with very lightly damp paper towels.  The towel(s) are to cover the stack of phyllo dough while you’re cutting and folding the spinach mixture.  Do not open the phyllo dough until you are completely set up and ready to start layering the sheets since they dry out so quickly.

A tip on keeping phyllo dough in the freezer, and I always have a pack in mine.  Be sure to use it before the expiration date.  The fresher sheets will peel off easier and cause less problems.  Yep, been there and done that.  Another thing, not all phyllo dough brands are created equal.  There are a few different brands available in my area and my personal favorite is the Athens brand.

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Peel the first sheet of phyllo dough and lay it on the cutting board.

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Lightly butter the sheet.

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Sprinkle a big pinch full of bread crumbs over the buttered sheet.  About 1/2 – 1 teaspoon.  This will keep the sheets from sticking together too much and it will keep the pastry crispy.

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Peel the second sheet and lay on the first one.  Butter it and sprinkle a good pinch full of bread crumbs over the butter.

Peel the third sheet, butter it, then the bread crumbs.  You’ll do this until you have four sheets stacked, buttered with bread crumbs.

COVER the stack of unused phyllo dough with the very lightly damp paper towels to keep them from drying out.

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Cut the four layers of buttered with bread crumbs phyllo dough in half lengthwise into two long pieces.  This is one of the reasons I love my cutting board!  I can follow along one of the lines.  So fun!

Ok, pile about 1/3 cup of the spinach mixture on the short end of each of the halves.

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Here you can see how I fold each one.  Turn the cutting board so the short end of the phyllo dough with the spinach mixture is nearest to you.  Basically fold one corner over the spinach mixture so the short end of the phyllo dough is lined up with the long end to form a triangle.  Then fold that triangle straight down the phyllo dough and keep folding until you get to the last fold.  It’s like folding a flag.  Butter the last fold to serve as the glue to hold it together.  The spinach filling should be totally contained.

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Arrange them on a baking sheet so they’re not touching.

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Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes or until they’re beautifully golden brown!  Oh, if only you could smell these buttery crispy deliciousness!

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And that’s what it looks like inside.  I’m telling you, this is to die for!

While these may take a little patience, once you get the hang of it and get into your zone, it’s truly not difficult.

Baklava

If you’re getting the hang of using phyllo dough, you may be interested in my Baklava!  Check out that post!

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What is your favorite Greek pastry?

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Here’s the printer friendly recipe.

Spanakopita

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 10 Pastries

Spanakopita

Spanakopita is a Greek pastry filled with a mixture of spinach, cheeses, pine nuts and other flavors. The pastry is a compilation of filo dough layered with butter and a sprinkle of bread crumbs for a crunchy texture and folded into a triangular shape and baked. So delicious!.

Ingredients

  • 2 - 10 ounce packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup yellow or sweet onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup dried bread crumbs, plain or Italian, for spinach mixture
  • 1/4 cup dried bread crumbs, plain or Italian, for sprinkling between layers
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 8 ounce Monterrey jack cheese, shredded or finely diced
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 20 sheets phyllo dough
  • 1 1/2 sticks (10Tablespoons) butter, melted

Instructions

  1. Place a clean kitchen towel in a medium size mixing bowl. Put the thawed chopped spinach in the towel and gently squeeze as much of the water out as you can. Discard the water and put the drained spinach in the dry mixing bowl.
  2. In a small skillet, saute' the onion in olive oil over medium-low heat until tender and translucent. Add the onions to the chopped spinach along with the Parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup bread crumbs, nutmeg, salt, fresh cracked pepper, and lightly beaten eggs. Mix until well combined.
  3. Add the finely diced or shredded Monterrey jack cheese (or Feta if you prefer) and toasted pine nuts. Mix well.
  4. Set up your work station with a cutting board larger than the 9"x14" phyllo sheets. Behind that have your spinach mixture with a 1/3 measuring cup, a small bowl of the other 1/4 cup bread crumbs and another bowl of melted butter with a pastry brush. Beside the cutting board, unroll the phyllo dough and have a lightly damp paper towel handy.
  5. Start layering: Peel the first sheet of phyllo dough and lay it on the cutting board. Lightly butter the sheet and sprinkle a big pinch of bread crumbs over top, about a 1/2 to 1 teaspoon. Peel the second sheet and lay on the first one. Butter it and sprinkle a good pinch full of bread crumbs over the butter. Repeat until you have four sheets stacked.
  6. COVER the stack of unused phyllo dough with the very lightly damp paper towels to keep them from drying out.
  7. Cut the four layers of buttered with bread crumbs phyllo dough in half lengthwise into two long pieces. Pile about 1/3 cup of the spinach mixture on the short end of each of the halves.
  8. Turn the cutting board so the short end of the phyllo dough with the spinach mixture is nearest to you. Fold one corner over the spinach mixture so the short end of the phyllo dough is lined up with the long end to form a triangle. Then fold that triangle straight down the phyllo dough and keep folding in both directions until you get to the last fold. It's like folding a flag. Butter the last fold to serve as the glue to hold it together. The spinach filling should be totally contained.
  9. Arrange them on a baking sheet so they're not touching. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes or until they're beautifully golden brown.
http://sweetteawithlemon.com/spanakopita/

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