On Saturday, we hosted my husband’s family for “linner” (what do you call a meal at 3:30pm? Lunch? Dinner? Linner!) and holiday gift exchange. Instead of going with a random mish-mosh of foods, I decided on a theme. Greek.
I love Greek food, and it had been years since I’d made a big Greek meal. The last time I did, I had to drastically change my meal plan as I had two vegetarians crash my party. This time we had just one, and it worked out just fine.
Someday, I need to get my mitts on a very specific cookbook: Greek Cooking in an American Kitchen. My mother bought this book ***years*** ago at the Saint Demetrios Greek Festival in Seattle. Or maybe I can convince my mother to give me her book. Yeah right.
Anyhoo… we made the Village Greek Salad, Keftethes (Greek meatballs, thank you husband!) and Moussaka from this book. I’ll post pictures later, but not recipes. You need to buy this book.
Back to the point.. Spanakopita. I had scans from this cookbook to work off. I imagine at some point I had “pie” recipe from this book, but all I could find was the triangles. And never again will I roll triangles (though the cheese triangles from this book are divine).
At the library on Friday, I searched and I searched for a LAYERED spanakopita recipe. And I must say, it was difficult. So after consulting a ton of different recipes, I came up with my own. And man it was good. So good that my grandmother-in-law announced that in 80+ years, she never ate cooked spinach because she didn’t like it. But she loved this. Hear that? I got an 88 year old woman to enjoy cooked spinach for the first time.
Please be easy on me, this is one of the first “proper” recipes I’ve put together.
For the filling:
- 2 tablespoons each: unsalted butter and extra virgin olive oil
- 2 pounds spinach, rinsed & stems removed; sliced into thin ribbons
- 1 bunch green onions, diced into little rings
- 5 sprigs fresh dill, chopped up
- 1 large sweet onion, finely chopped
- 1 large handful flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 1/4 cup flour
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 pound feta cheese, crumbled
- 1/2 cup small curd cottage cheese (optional)
- Fresh ground pepper
For the phyllo “crust”:
- 12 sheets phyllo dough (if frozen, let thaw overnight in the fridge)
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 2t butter with 2t olive oil. Add sweet onions, lightly season with fresh ground salt and pepper and saute for a few minutes until translucent. Add spinach, green onions, parsley and dill. Stir often so greens do not stick to the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes until greens have reduced significantly. Add flour and stir- this will absorb all the excess water from the greens. Remove from heat and let cool. Re-season with salt and pepper if needed.
At this point, you can refrigerate overnight, or in my case, take your migraine pill and lay down for an hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Once the spinach mixture has cooled, stir in the eggs, feta cheese and cottage cheese.
Meanwhile, melt 1/4 cup butter with 1/4 cup olive oil.
Prepare a 9×12 baking dish by brushing with the melted butter and oil mixture. Lay down 4 sheets of phyllo, brushing with butter between each layer. Spoon half of the spinach & cheese filling into the dish, and spread evenly. Add 4 more sheets of phyllo, brushing between each layer. Add the remaining filling into the dish, spread evenly, and top with the remaining phyllo dough, brushing with butter and oil between each layer. Brush the top layer with the last of the butter and oil.
Bake for 45 minutes or until top layer of phyllo is golden brown. Serve warm.
Things to note:
If you’re using fresh feta, it’ll crumble nicely. My feta came from Trader Joe’s in a block, so I cut it in cubes.
Next time I make this, I want to mess around with more herbs: more dill, and possibly some oregano and mint too. We had a bunch of these 3 herbs left over, and I wish I had just thrown them all in.
Regardless, this is a dish that will please carnivores as well as vegetarians.