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Spanakopita

I have quite a good memory when it comes to foods I want to cook.

After watching an episode of Food Safari [1] a year ago, we still hadn’t made one of the lovely Greek dishes we watched being made. Finally, we had the ingredients and I am so happy to have tasted this great dish.

With layers of crisp filo pastry and melted butter, filled with feta, ricotta and spinach it was marvelous! Even for those who dislike spinach, I would suggest giving this a go.

We had a few problems with the filo pastry getting stuck together, as we used the frozen pack of filo pastry, which just doesn’t pull apart as easily as the fresh packs. Although, once cooked, we couldn’t notice the tears of pastry in the layers.

We’ve already made this again, and just a note – even if your spinach is a bit old and wilted, still use it – it still tastes great!

Spanakopita

Recipe from Food Safari [1]

Serves: 8

1 bunch (about 320g) English spinach or silverbeet
2 sprigs fresh dill, chopped (optional, I use it when I have it)
4 green shallots, chopped (if I don’t have green shallots, I use a small onion, chopped finely)
300g feta cheese
100g ricotta cheese (sometimes I just make it half/half for ricotta and feta, or more ricotta, either way it tastes great)
40g (½ cup) finely grated hard cheese like kefalograviera, parmesan or pecorino
5 eggs
2 tbsp dry breadcrumbs
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
60ml olive oil
Melted butter or olive oil for greasing dish
375g packet fresh (not frozen) filo pastry
185ml melted butter, approximately

Trim the roots from the English spinach, or if using silverbeet, remove leaves from tough stems. Wash leaves and drain well. Coarsely shred the leaves and tender stalks of the spinach and set aside.

Place the feta in a large bowl and coarsely mash with a fork. Add the ricotta, kefalograviera, eggs, breadcrumbs, nutmeg, pepper and oil. Mix with the fork to combine. Add the spinach and set aside while preparing the pastry case.

Preheat oven to 180C. Lightly grease a 20cm x 30cm x 5cm deep baking dish.

Lay the filo out on a bench. Cover with a dry tea towel then a damp one to keep it from drying out. Line dish with a sheet of filo and butter the filo. Top with another sheet of filo and butter and continue until about half the sheets of filo are used.

Using your hand or a large metal spoon, gently mix the spinach filling until thoroughly combined. Pour into the prepared pastry base and spread evenly. Top with remaining filo, buttering each sheet, ensuring the final sheet is well buttered. Trim any overhanging pastry and tuck in the sides.

Use a sharp knife to mark pastry top into diamonds, allowing the knife to pierce the pastry once or twice to allow air to escape during baking. Sprinkle lightly with water and bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until well browned and set. Gently shake the pan and the spanakopita will slide easily when cooked. Cover with foil if over browning. Cool on rack for 15 minutes before cutting to serve.


Note: The spinach can be prepared a day ahead. It must be as dry as possible to ensure the spanakopita does not become soggy.