The tale of spanakopita's epic journey.
Spanakopita is Greek, literal translation of "spinach" and "pie". After making it however, you'll notice that the outcome is much less conventional American "pie" and much more conventional spinach-dip-pastry-samosa.
Spanakopita begins its life as a collection of assorted cheese, greens, and phyllo dough. Phyllo (filo) dough is also as I learned, not really dough, but sheet(s) of carbohydrate tissue that kind of resembles vellum paper. Apparently 'phyllo' is greek for 'leaf.' How apt.
To begin, assemble the following ingredients:
- oven at 350 degrees
- 10 oz. thawed frozen chopped spinach
- 0.5 cup minced scallions
- 0.5 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 0.25 cup minced fresh dill
note: original recipe called for 0.5 cup dill. I am suggesting a lower amount given the overpowering effect dill seems to have on the rest of the ingredients. If you really like dill, stick with 0.5 cup.
- 0.5 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 4 oz. cream cheese
- 0.5 cup farmer's cheese
note: original recipe called for 4 oz. cream cheese and 0.5 cup farmer's cheese. We used some norwegian jarlsberg cheese because that's the only other cheese I had in the fridge.
- 2 large eggs
- 20 sheets phyllo dough
- 0.75 cup melted butter
Phase 1: Preparing the ingredients
Pre-1. Thaw the phyllo dough
This takes forever but is important. Just leave the dough on the counter for an hour or two until it reaches roughly room temperature.
Thaw the spinach.
There are many ways you can do this. The goal is to have dry-ish spinach to work with. We chose the most primitive method possible, aka microwave, wring, repeat.
Measure out the herbs
While spinach is definitely the primary filling here, the herbs do a lot to flavor the final product. The recipe suggested a 1:1:1 ratio (0.5 cup ea.) between parsley, scallion, and dill. Unfortunately, given the strength of dill as a flavoring agent, I was unable to taste the scallion or parsley in the final product. I highly suggest reducing the amount of dill you use here. I would also recommend mincing the herbs if you have a blender on hand.
Melt that butter
You'll be using a lot of this, to give the final product its golden crispy sheen.
Mix the green stuff with copious amounts of cheese and eggs
We used a stand mixer to mix everything together and it did a pretty good job. You can also do this manually if you're into that type of thing.
Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees
Phase 2: Bring in the leaf dough!
Ok, so you've mashed up some herbs together. Now it's time to get to the real spanakopita stuff.
Lay out a damp towel on your workspace.
This will help you cut the dough later. Peel off a sheet of phyllo dough from the roll and lay it on the towel.
Start gluing your dough together with butter
Brush your sheet of dough with butter. You can dab the corners of the sheet with butter like in art class to help them stick together. 'Glue' on another sheet of phyllo dough.
Repeat this with as many sheets of phyllo dough as you want. We stopped at 3.
End up with solid stack of phyllo dough.
Cut this booklet into three equal strips.
Roll the spinach mix into the dough strips
At the ends of each strip of dough, spoon out some of your spinach mix. Brush butter onto the rest of the strip to help stick everything together and work some more richness into the final product. If you put too much spinach mix (e.g. the left-most strip in this picture) you run a risk of the filling bursting through the dough during the baking process.
Fold the corner of the strips upwards, making an origami football thing
Repeat previous steps until you run out of phyllo dough. You are almost done!
Phase 3: Bake.
This is the easiest part. Since the phyllo dough is so delicate, it only requires about 15 minutes in the oven.
We recommend brushing more butter onto the tops of the pre-baked spanakopita.
Take them out when they are golden.
(Notice how one of ours burst because of the over-filling.)
Phase 4: eat
Congratulations! You just exerted a Herculean effort to create a savory pastry. Enjoy it and go brag about it to all of your peers.
Time required: ~ 1.5-2.0 hrs
Effort required: 4.0/5
Servings made: 21 triangles