We will be doing some baking over the next few days, but, for her first night here we will relish one of her favourite all time dinners. From the time my daughter was 2 years old there has never been a time when she wouldn't devour spanakopita. (Spa-na-KO-pe-ta). Many children, of all ages, are picky eaters. My daughter has been exposed to my experiments from day one, therefore the blend of spinach, onions, dill, and feta cheese in layers of flaky filo pastry was right up her alley. I am sure she was Greek in a past life! Not to say that she wasn't a picky eater most of the time, but, she would always eat this dish so I knew I would not have to worry and she would be an adventurous eater. Just like mom!
With the spanakopita you can make little individual triangles that you fold up like a flag for appetizers, or, larger versions of the same dish layered in a pan like lasagna or rolled up like a strudel for a main course. This recipe is actually for spanakotyropita or tiropita me feta which has the addition of cheese. I have read that it is often called spanakopita because the larger word is more intimidating. True spanakopita does not have the additon of feta cheese. In Greece there are shops where they sell nothing put pitas or pies of all sizes with a thousand and one fillings. The fascinating thing about pita is the imagination that their fillings can inspire, because there is nothing that would not taste even better when baked in the paper-thin flaky filo pastry.
In Aglaia Kremezi's cookbook, "The Foods of the Greek Islands" she has recipes for several inspired pita dishes. When baked the pitas must never be covered, as this would make the softly crisp layers collapse in on themselves. Apart from that they can be enjoyed either warm or cold, as a meal or a snack, at any time of the day or night. This is a simple version that we enjoy.....
The added bonus here is that we had a potluck at work yesterday as a Christmas celebration. This is my most requested dish , so, I was happy to oblige!!!
1/3 cup olive oil
1 small bunch scallions, green included, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2-1/2 - 3 lbs spinach, washed
1 small bunch fresh parsley, chopped
1 small bunch fresh dill, chopped
freshly ground pepper
1/2 lb feta cheese, crumbled
3 - 4 eggs
12 filo sheets, plus 6 tablespoons melted butter
bread crumbs if necessary
Saute scallions and onions in 1/3 cup oil. Meanwhile, pan the spinach (cook it without adding water and drain thoroughly). Squeeze out excess liquid.(It may need to cool before handling) Chop finely.
Add the spinach to onions and stir in parsley, dill and very little salt and pepper. Cook gently for 10 minutes, then cool.
Using a wooden spoon stir in feta and eggs. (I like lots of feta!!!!!)
Now assemble the pie: If the filling is too liquid add some breadcrumbs before spreading on pastry. Butter a 9 x 12 x 3-inch baking pan and in it spread 6 commercial filo sheets, brushing each with butter. Place filling and spread to edges. Add another 6 filo sheets layered with butter as before. Tuck the top filo over the bottom and flute. Score the top 3 filo sheets.
Bake in moderate oven 350F for 45 minutes or until top is golden and flaky.
Serve warm or cold as a main meal or smaller pieces for appetizers.
Note: Usually when I make spanakopita I roll it like a strudel and then bake. This is just an alternative way to prepare the dish. Score the filo in individual pieces to make it easier to cut after baking.
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