Light and airy, this is the perfect snack for all occasions.
If you’re looking for a light, savoury snack, Greek Spanakopita is a great choice. With layers of crisp crust and a comforting filling of spinach and feta cheese, it’s the perfect blend of flavours and textures. Eat it as a side dish for large dinners or make it the centre of the show, or you could even act as a snack alongside salads or with dips like Tzatziki or Hummus.
Popular across Greece, Spanakopita is a combination of perfectly flaky phyllo pastry and a healthy combination of spinach and feta. Greeks have been devouring these pies since ancient times and one of its earliest mentions was by the poet Philoxenos in the 5th century B.C.
He wrote that at the end of a feast they were served a cheesecake made with milk and honey that was baked like a pie. Spinach reached Greek shores from Spain and phyllo was invented during the Byzantine era. Until then cheese was often eaten wrapped and cooked in fig leaves, and taking into account that the literal translation for phyllo is ‘leaf’, the predecessors of Spanakopita start revealing themselves.
Although it looks like a fiddly complicated dish, it couldn’t be more simple. For the beginner, store-bought phyllo pastry can take a load off your mind but if you’re feeling ambitious, you can even make your own. Once you have all the basics in place, you’re ready to bring a slice of Ancient Greece into your home kitchen.
For the filling
2 red onions, halved and sliced
1 spring onion, finely chopped (optional)
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
500g spinach, washed and roughly chopped (18 ounces)
a pinch of grated nutmeg
200g feta cheese, crumbled (7 ounces)
2 eggs, beaten
1–2 tbsps fresh dill, chopped (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
For the phyllo dough
300g all-purpose flour (10.5 ounces)
5 tbsps olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
130–150g water (1/2– 3/4 of a cup)
To prepare this spanakopita recipe start by making the phyllo dough first.
When done, preheat the oven to 180C.
To prepare the filling for this spanakopita recipe, sauté the onions in a large knob of butter until soft and turning golden.
Add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes.
Add the spinach in batches and cook until wilted. Cool, then tip into a bowl (leaving behind any excess liquid from the spinach) and mix in the nutmeg, feta, eggs, spring onion and season.
Put the first sheet of filo in a nonstick baking pan and sprinkle with olive oil, letting the excess hang over the sides.
Keep going with the rest of the sheets, turning a little before adding each additional pastry sheet and sprinkling with olive oil.
Use 2-3 phyllo sheets, depending on how thick your phyllo is.
Tip in the filling of the spanakopita and fold over the excess pastry to cover.
If you like to prepare a larger pan of spanakopita for a big crowd, double the ingredients for the filling.
Layer the 2-3 phyllo sheets to form the bottom of the spanakopita, tip in the filling and top with 2-3 more phyllo sheets.
Brush the top of the spanakopita with olive oil and scar with a sharp knife.
Bake in preheated oven for about 60 minutes until the phyllo is crisp and golden.
Leave the spanakopita cool down for 10-15 minutes before cutting into pieces.
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