This week I’ve channelled my inner Greek Goddess and whipped up something true to my heritage. Yes, it’s the world known, ever so popular, ever so scrumptious Spanakopitta aka Spinach Pie. Spinach, tick. Feta, tick. Aromatic fresh herbs, tick. Crunchy filo pastry, tick. Have I won you over yet?
This is a great recipe I've stumbled across on the internet, but I’ve adapted it to my own personal preference. Feel free to do the same but I promise this recipe will not disappoint!
In a fast-moving world where 24 hours in a day aren’t enough, I say use shop bought filo pastry for time saving and convenience. However, I can’t deny that homemade filo pastry and this recipe = A-MAZE-ING. As easy as shop bought filo pastry is, it doesn’t hold up as well as homemade and loses its crunch quickly (this won’t be an issue however if it’s left out at room temperature and eaten on the same day). I made this recipe a few years ago for a special occasion using homemade filo and it was heavenly.
If you decide to go down the homemade route, may I suggest Paul Hollywood’s filo recipe, that’s what I used. Anything pastry or bread related, he’s the man.
But for now, and I’m sure I speak for a load of us; there’s a heap of ironing to catch up with and 3 boys that need feeding. Frozen Filo, out you come.
Prep time: 45 mins (including cooling)
Total time: 1 hour 25 mins
For the Spanakopitta Filling: (adapted from Greek recipes tv)
450g baby spinach
2 tbsp olive oil for frying
1 small leek, thinly sliced
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 spring onions, chopped
Big handful fresh mint, chopped
Big handful fresh parsley, chopped
Big handful fresh dill, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
Zest of 1 lemon
40g pine nuts, toasted
100g crumbled feta
50g grated halloumi
Pinch of nutmeg
Sea salt to taste
For the filo pastry:
12 sheets of ready made good quality filo, thawed
250g clarified unsalted butter, for brushing
1 tbsp dried thyme, for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan and place a large round pizza stone on the bottom rack. If you don’t have a pizza stone you can use a large spring form baking pan.
Make the filling. In a large frying pan, heat a tbsp of olive oil over a medium heat and fry half of the spinach, adding a good few pinches of sea salt, until nicely wilted. Repeat for the other half of the spinach. Squeeze out any excess liquid (putting it in strong kitchen paper is a good shout) and then chop the spinach.
Heat a tbsp of olive oil over medium heat in the same pan and saute the red onion, around 5 minutes till softened. Add in the garlic, spring onions and leek and cook for a couple more minutes. To this, add the spinach back in, fresh herbs, sea salt and pepper. Cook for a further 5 minutes. Place in a bowl and set aside to cool completely.
Once cooled, add cheeses, eggs, pine nuts, lemon zest and nutmeg. Give it all a good stir until well combined.
Assemble the Spanakopita. Take a sheet of filo and lay it on a clean, dry surface. Using your pastry brush, drizzle butter all over the sheet and brush it till all the surface is covered, not forgetting the edges. Fold over an inch from the side closest to you. Add no more than 2 tbsp of mixture across the bottom, leaving and inch on either side, and flatten it out slightly (too much mixture will cause the filo to crack). Fold in the sides to overlap the two ends of the mixture. Carefully roll the filo adding more butter as you go to keep the filo moist. Once you reach the end, butter the bottom and sides and twist into the shape of a snake (this will be the centre of the pie). Place in the centre of the preheated pan, being careful not to burn!
Repeat with the remaining filo sheets, connecting the end of the previous one with the next one, don’t leave any gaps as these will be more pronounced once baked. Make sure the tubes are well buttered underneath before placing them in the pan, to prevent sticking and soggy bottoms!
Sprinkle the pie with the dried thyme and bake for 35-40 minutes at 200°C/180°C fan till golden brown and crisp, if you see any signs of whitish, soggy looking filo, pop it back in for a few more minutes. Serve warm.
Enjoy, or as us Greeks say, Kali sas Oreksi!