Sunday, December 21, 2008

Spanakopita, or spinach pies

When you have some really fabulous feta cheese, spanakopita is a great way to showcase it. Last week I was at an Eastern European market, where I picked up some Bulgarian sheep feta. I meant to post about the market, but gosh, with the holidays and all, I've gotten behind! I'm sure you'll understand.

Anyway, this feta is super-pungent and salty. It's too strong and salty for me to eat it by itself, which is saying something. But I figured it would be quite yummy mixed with spinach and wrapped in phyllo.

This is a free-form recipe. You'll need some phyllo dough. If it is frozen, it should be thawed in the fridge overnight.

I had a jumbo bag of spinach from Costco. Maybe 2 pounds' worth. I sauteed half an onion, minced, and a clove of garlic, also minced, in butter, in a large stockpot. Then I added most of the bag of spinach and stirred it around a bit, covered the pot, lowered the heat and let the spinach wilt down for 10 minutes.

I grated some fresh nutmeg into a bowl and added about a quarter-pound of feta. If it were a milder feta, I would use more of it.
When the spinach was wilted, I spun it in the salad spinner, pressed it with a spatula and spun it again. My other option was to let the stuff cool and squeeze the excess juices out. But I'm impatient. Another hint for the impatient: Scissors are an efficient way to "chop" cooked spinach in a bowl.
I mixed the spinach with the cheese and nutmeg, then prepared the phyllo. Keep the stack of phyllo sheets covered with a damp dish towel. Melt a stick of butter. Lay out one sheet of phyllo and brush it with melted butter. Put another sheet on top and butter that. Cut the sheets in strips about 2 1/2 inches wide.
Then you spoon and roll!
You just roll it up in a triangle like a flag. I even made a little video. I'm kind of sloppy (again with that impatience!) but you get the idea.

I was overly generous on the filling; I rolled three batches, or six sheets of phyllo, which fit on one baking sheet. You could use less filling and make them smaller, for appetizers.
I brushed the tops with more butter and baked them for 25 minutes. I ran the broiler at the end for a minute to make them nice and golden on top.
I was running late for work, so the final shot was hasty. And then I passed them all out to the cow-orkers and that was the end of them. Everyone said "Yum!"


  1. I'm suddenly very, very hungry. And I can almost taste those little pies.

  2. why are you so from here? we could have a potluck and you could bring these...they look excellent

  3. I LOVE spanakopita, but I've never made it. You probably have more patience than I do. I wish I was one of your cow-orkers

  4. I want to hear about the Eastern European market! (I wonder if they grind poppyseed there?)

  5. I love spinach pie. We buy it from a local bakery, and they also put hunks of potato in it, so good.

  6. Cool, this will go down well with my family, I think, they are all terribly looking forward to me cooking for them and I just feel uninspired and exhausted!

  7. Neat. I have never understood how these things were folded up so I really enjoyed your video.

  8. delicious. have a wonderful 200, dear kitt.

  9. MMMM. I love spanakopita. This looks delicious. You make it look too easy.

  10. I love those savory little bundles.

    Rick in VT

  11. Pam, they taste quite good! Try 'em.

    DB, I'll let you know next time I'm in your 'hood ...

    Betts, it didn't take much patience at all, though it probably would be easier to do these in one big layered batch and cut them in diamond shapes, like baklava. It's not like I had to make the phyllo.

    Beatrice, I don't know about poppyseeds, but it's Eastern Europe Market on Arkansas just east of Colorado Blvd. Behind Hooters. The sandwich place next door is good, too.

    Joanne, I may have to try it with potato. That sounds interesting!

    Denise, it was, quite!

    Jenny, the holidays can be so tough. You want to be ambitious, but usually "easy" wins out.

    Molly, it was a lot easier than I imagined. And would look quite pretty if done patiently.

    Happy New Year to you, too, Bee!

    Mimi, it really is easy. Trust me.

    Rick, I'll bet you and the missus could come up with some fun variations.

  12. Hey KB. You're missing the key ingredient: eggs. Also, dill, mint, parsley if you like. But definitely eggs to give them more ooomph. I'll find the recipe and send it.

    On the other hand, that's if you're making a big dish of it to cut into slices and maybe less so for little itty bitty personal spanakopitas.