Greek Spinach Pie (Spanakopita)

Apr 15, 2010 by Susana Fare

I received the book “101 Foods That Could Save Your Life”as a Christmas present. This book is always on my night table, and I always use it as a reference. It’s amazing how many foods we eat are, in addition to being delicious, full of nutritious ingredients.

According to the book, the spinach capital is in Crystal City, Texas. And they’ve honored the cartoonist, E.C. Segar, and his famous character Popeye with a statue. This has probably had a significant influence on Americans to consume more spinach, thereby increasing sales for the spinach industry.

Spinach belongs to the same family as beets and chard. With three different types, they’re all delicious and rich in nutrients.

Apparently spinach began to be cultivated in ancient Persia. It was named “herb of Persia,” by a Nepalese king. Later on, it was introduced into Spain by the Moors. It was also then known in England as the Spanish vegetable. Spinach “à la Florentine” seems to have its origin from Catherine de Medici in Florence–a dish she liked a lot.

Rich in vitamin K and a good source of fiber plus calcium, iron, magnesium, and manganese along with being water-soluble vitamin B and other more rich vitamins and minerals, spinach is a nutritious vegetable.

Greek Spinach Pie is called Spanakopita, a rich pie stuffed with spinach, onion, herbs and cheeses. The dough used in this pie is phyllo dough. Phyllo is used in pies with different shapes, sizes and fillings, and in all countries that were once part of the Ottoman Empire.

According to some sources, phyllo was introduced in the 11th century appearing in a dictionary of Turkic dialects. 

It’s a bit complicated to make these paper thin sheets of unleavened flour dough, so I usually buy them at the store.

This dish uses feta cheese, the national cheese of Greece. Feta cheese was originally made by shepherds in the mountainous regions above Athens. It’s usually soft, spicy, and a bit salty. So people who care about their sodium intake, need to be very careful when using large amounts of it.

This particular version is a bit different than from its original recipe. I found that this one has a nicer table presentation. Instead of having the spinach inside the phyllo dough, it has phyllo dough ribbons on top of the spinach.

Ingredients:

  • 2 onions chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 PK frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • ¼ cup feta cheese
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ bread crumbs (I used pulverized oats)
  • 8 sheets phyllo dough
  • Additional olive oil

Directions:

Heat the oven at 375°F. In a medium saucepan, heat oil and cook onions until transparent. Add chopped garlic, cooking a bit more. Season with pepper and dill.

In a medium bowl, beat eggs adding spinach, feta, and Parmesan cheeses. Blend bread crumbs or oats folding the mix very gently.

Pour mix in a 9” spring form or deep-dish pan. Cut phyllo sheets about ½” wide and moist them with olive oil to keep the phyllo without breaking. Place phyllo sheets on top of the spinach mixture.

Bake it for around 45-50 minutes, depending on your oven, or until the phyllo looks golden.

Serves: 4

If you want or need more vegetarian recipes or instructions on different dishes, you can find them here, or at my blog Spanish Steps.

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