Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Spanakotyropita: Easy Spinach Pie with Cheese

In Greek: σπανακοτυρόπιτα, pronounced (take a deep breath) spah-nah-ko-tee-ROH-pee-tah

This is a family favorite because it's quick, and easier to make than some other versions. The spinach needs to be cooked the day before, but once the pita gets started, it takes a few minutes to get it ready, and about 30 minutes to bake.

Cook Time: 30 minutes

For the spinach & herb mixture:
* 4 pounds of fresh spinach, washed, trimmed, and chopped
* 2/3 cup of olive oil
* 1 large and 2 small spring onions, chopped
* 1 bunch of fresh dill, stems removed, chopped
* 1/3 cup of water

For the pita:
* cooked spinach and herb mixture (above) at room temperature
* 1 egg
* 2/3 pounds of firm feta cheese
* 2 teaspoons of freshly ground pepper
* 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons of olive oil
* 1 pound of phyllo sheets 14 x 18 inches
* 2 tablespoons of water

* 3/4 cup of chopped flat leaf parsley
* 1 cup of chopped fresh mint
* 1/2 cup finely sliced leeks (white part only)


Note: Contrary to most instructions (even my own), the phyllo can be taken out of the freezer to defrost 3 hours before using (leave package unopened while defrosting).

Day 1: Prepare the spinach and herbs

Over medium heat, sauté the onion (and fresh dill, if using) in olive oil in a large soup or stew pot until soft. Add water and spinach and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Put in a colander to drain. When cooled, cover and continue to drain in the refrigerator overnight.

Day 2: Make the pita

Remove spinach from the refrigerator and keep in the colander over a bowl while allowing it to reach room temperature. As ingredients are added, it will continue to drain.

Preheat oven to 350F (175C).

Beat the egg with a fork and add to the spinach. Crumble the cheese and add to the spinach, and toss with one or two forks until evenly distributed.

Note: If the feta cheese is too soft to crumble by hand (if it starts to mush), put in a bowl and use the tines of a fork to make small pieces, then add to spinach.

Unroll the phyllo and count the sheets. Oil a pan measuring the same or slightly less than the phyllo sheets with 2 tablespoons of oil using a pastry brush. Lay half the phyllo in the pan, and fold in any overlap toward the center to fit the dough into the pan. Brush the top of the phyllo with 2 teaspoons of olive oil, covering it from side to side.

Pour the spinach mixture into the pan and use a fork to spread it out evenly over the dough. Lay the other half of the phyllo sheets on top of the spinach, and fold in the overlap so the sheets fit in the pan.

Note: To make a smooth top that hides the folds of the dough, keep one sheet out of the top layer, and place it on top of the other sheets. Trim the edges with a scissors to fit the pan.

With a sharp knife, cut into 20 pieces, cutting all the way through to the bottom. Use your hand to sprinkle 2 tablespoons of water evenly over the top. Work with small amounts of water to distribute evenly. Do not touch the dough with wet hands.

Bake at 350°F (170°C) for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown.

Cut and serve.

1 comment:

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