The weather has well and truly turned here, and when that happens, it’s a sure bet that Autumn is finally upon us. This essentially led me this weekend, to want to bake something warm and savoury, yet still fresh – as we aren’t quite in the vicinity of needing ‘comfort food’ just yet.
One of my favourite things when it comes to baked savouries are buttery pastries with bursts of salty creaminess. Pair this one of my favourite vegetables, spinach (yes, it’s true), and then enter a recipe that is essentially pastry stuffed with spinach and feta cheese and I am a pretty happy girl.
So this is my take on a classic Spanakopita… a Greek spinach and feta pie (if you want to just call it like it is). At its most basic level, it is made up of three main ingredients: filo pastry, spinach and feta cheese. And while on it’s own this already sounds like a winning combination, it is actually equally important to load it up with plenty of fresh herbs. I tend to use a whole big bunch of parsley (stems and all), basil, oregano and dill… then I add a bit more flavour with lashings of garlic, and then freshen the whole thing up with a generous portion of gorgeous, freshly cut spring onions (also up there as one of my favourite vegetables).
Now, if a savoury pie that is a mixture of a lot of spinach with some eggs, herbs and feta cheese sounds simple to you, that’s because it is. Seriously, the hardest part is probably dealing with the filo (the very definition of delicate) – but when it comes to that, just make sure you defrost it fully and keep it covered. Brush it generously with melted butter between layers – this will stop it drying out and tearing, as well as aid in that super buttery deliciousness that this pie (and your tastebuds) yearn for.
So apart from being super delicious and incredibly simple, the other great thing about Spanakopita is that it is versatile enough to be served up in any number of ways… breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner. You can even serve it as finger food or an appetizer – perhaps even a side dish to a nice steak. It can be eaten hot or cold, but believe me when I say straight out of the oven takes the cake – the cheese soft and gooey and the crust crackly, superbly hot and golden… it really is the crispy filo encasing that makes this dish rock.
Its easy, fresh and delicious… the kids just love it too. And if you look past the butter (heheh), you could almost call it healthy as well. Either way, it’s the perfect Autumn pick me up, just as the weather is cooling down. Not too heavy, and just comforting enough. Actually, thinking a little more about it, the ingredients kind of scream ‘Spring’ a little more to me, but given that where I live, Spring and Autumn are practically the same thing, I am going to happily roll with it.
Spanakopita (Greek Spinach and Feta Pie)
- 500g frozen spinach, thawed and drained (see note)
- 1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
- ¼ cup fresh oregano, chopped
- ¼ cup fresh dill, chopped
- ¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
- ¼ cup fresh dill, chopped
- 3 spring onions, sliced
- 2 teaspoons crushd/minced garlic
- 200g feta cheese, crumbled
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 4 large eggs
- salt and pepper to taste
- 18 sheets pre-prepared filo pastry, thawed
- 125g butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
- ¼ teaspoon poppy seeds
Preheat oven to 180C.
In a large bowl, combine spinach, herbs, spring onions, cheese, eggs, garlic and salt and pepper.
On a large, well greased baking tray, lay out a sheet of filo and brush with melted butter. Place a second sheet directly on top of this, brush with butter and repeat with a third sheet, again applying the butter to the top.
Once you have laid down three sheets, repeat the process with another three sheets of filo, however this time, lay them perpendicular (or at a 90 degree angle) to the first.
Repeat the process again, however on a 45 degree angle, and then again on the opposite angle. When complete, you should have a ‘star’ made up of 12 sheets of filo pastry.
In the centre of your pastry star, spread the filling ingredients in a circle, allowing a few centimetres around the diameter of the filling.
Wrap the filling in the pastry by folding the sheets of pastry over the top, overlapping the edges as you go. Use the remaining sheets of pastry to fill any gaps – crinkle or scrunch them if you need to, at this point it doesn’t matter if they tear.
Coat the top and sides of the pastry with remaining melted butter and sprinkle generously with the sesame and poppy seeds, then place the pie in the oven.
Cook for 45 minutes to an hour, until the top is golden and crispy. Serve while still warm.
Ensure your frozen spinach is very well drained, so as to not turn your pastry soggy and ensure even cooking. You can wring it out by hand, or by using a clean, damp tea towel.