These Greek spinach and cheese pies have a complex taste: sharp bite of feta, green spinach, explosion of herbs: mint, dill, oregano, basil, garlic, and green onion, wrapped in a crispy filo dough or buttery puff pastry. My recipe was inspired by my Greek-American friend Margret’s delicious version.
You can make these traditionally with flaky phyllo (filo) dough. I use olive oil spray on the phyllo instead of spreading oil or butter with a pastry brush, to cut down on the fat. I also make tiropetes, which are phyllo filled with feta and ricotta cheese. They are great for breakfast.
On the other end of the calorie range, I recently tried these at a Greek restaurant made from puff pastry. They were rich and delicious! So I made them at home. It’s much less fuss than phyllo, although it has quite a few more fat and calories from the buttery pastry.
Makes 3 logs (about 18 triangles) of phyllo wrapped spanakopita or 8 triangles of puff pastry spanakopita
3/4 package defrosted phyllo dough OR 1 package (2 sheets) puff pastry (defrost for only 10 minutes at room temperature)
Olive oil spray for phyllo dough
2 heads fresh spinach, well washed, stems removed and chopped (use a food processor to chop it) OR 1 lb bag of frozen chopped spinach – about 3 cups.
1 tsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic
¼ cup pine nuts
1 Tb finely chopped mint leaves OR 1 tsp dried mint
½ Tb finely chopped fresh dill weed OR ½ tsp dried dill weed
1 Tb finely chopped fresh oregano leaves OR 1 tsp dried oregano
1 Tb finely chopped fresh basil OR 1 tsp dried basil OR 1 cube frozen basil
Several grinds pepper (about ¼ tsp)
1 egg for filling. Another egg if using puff pastry.
6 oz (about 1 cup) crumbled feta cheese
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 375’ for filo, or 400’ for puff pastry
Microwave frozen or fresh spinach in a covered casserole bowl about 2 minutes (longer for frozen spinach) until soft. Drain in fine mesh sieve over a bowl.
I place a bowl with a few cans in it on top of the sieve while preparing the other ingredients. Afterward, press on the spinach with a tablespoon for several minutes to squeeze out the liquid. You should have 1 1/2 cups drained spinach.
While spinach is draining, finely mince white and green parts of scallions, garlic, and mint leaves and other fresh herbs, salt and pepper Sauté onion, garlic and pine nuts in olive oil in a heavy skillet. After a couple of minutes, stir in the herbs and heat for another minute.
Finish squeezing the last liquid from the spinach and discard the liquid. Stir the spinach into the onion and herbs.
Beat the first egg and add feta and Parmesan cheeses. Stir in the spinach mixture until well blended.
1 cup feta cheese
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten
2 Tb minced fresh parsley
Mix ingredients together. Spread on puff pastry or phyllo dough as below.
Assembling Puff Pastry (I used Trader Joe’s), cut both sheets in two. Beat the second egg. Using a pastry brush, paint the egg on each piece. Spoon filling o to fill exactly half the pastry, leaving about 1/2 inch border of dough on the edges. Fold the pastry over the filling, then seal the edges with the back of a teaspoon.
For phyllo dough pastries: spread one sheet of defrosted dough on a large wooden board or cutting board. Spray olive oil on top. Spread another sheet on top of it and spray and repeat for a 3rd sheet. Spread a 2 inch line of spinach or cheese filling about 3 inches from the edge of the shorter side of the rectangle. Leave a one inch space between the filling and the sides of the phyllo.
Roll the dough up over the filling, then tuck in the sides, and continue rolling until the end. Spray a little of the oil on the edge to seal it. Place the roll seam side down on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Spray a little oil on top of the roll.
Bake at 375’ for 40 minutes until browned.