Turkmenistan I decided to go to Greece for Spanakopita! In my employed past I actually went to Greece a couple of times, and every time I was amazed by the food. I remember vividly the first time I had feta cheese
in Greece. It was melting on my tongue, nothing like any feta I had ever eaten before.. Oh, the delight! Yum!
What makes feta taste even better is spinach, it makes a marvelous combination of tangy, salty and slight bitterness. This pie brings out he best of that combination. It is one of my favorite recipes of all time. It looks great and it tastes even better! It's quite a show stopper, and a great way to impress your friends at a dinner party [or a date ;-)]. Trust me..don't make it if you are alone for the night or you are most likely to overindulge on half the pie, like I just did..[and then you'll never get that date ;-)]
I adapted this recipe from Celia Brooks Browns World Vegetarian Classics, by far my favorite cookbook. [No I'm not getting paid to say this I actually love this book].
A common problem with baking spinach pies is water coming out of the spinach, leaving you with a soggy uncooked crust. This recipe deals with that in a very effective way which can be used for all different types of spinach pies. There's a tea towel squeezing trick and it includes uncooked rice in the filling. As you bake the pie the rice will absorb the excess water enabling your pie crust to become nice and crispy!
This recipe uses ready made filo pastry, if you want to make the dough from scratch check this video.
500 gr/ 1 lb spinach
3 spring onions
1 tablespoon olive oil
150 g/ 5 oz/ 11 tablespoons cottage cheese
250 g/ 9 oz feta cheese
2 tablespoons dill
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons of rice
salt & pepper
7 big sheets of filo pastry or 14 small sheets
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 1/2 tablespoon / 50 g butter
ovendish 30 x 20 cm / 8 x 10 inch
Preheat the oven at 180 C/ 355 F/gas mark 3
Wash the spinach & remove the stems
chop the spring onion (you can use both the white & green)
fry them in 1 tbsp of olive oil on a medium heat
Add the spinach and fry until wilted
Then set aside to cool
In the meanwhile..
crumble the feta
chop the parsley and dill
mix together with the cottage cheese
Drain the spinach
press water out of the spinach with a spoon
To get more water out place the spinach in the middle of a clean tea towel, then twist the towel
[Please don't use a white towel, you will not get the green stain out..]
The spinach is now dry and pressed together, almost looking like a
Cut the spinach by cutting off slices
Mix the spinach trough the cheese mixture
Season to taste with salt & pepper [you won't need a lot of salt, since the feta is very salty already]
Add the raw rice
The filling is done and now you start preparing the dough.
Melt the butter [I find it easiest in the microwave]
Mix with 3 tbspn of olive oil
Use a little bit of this mixture to butter your ovendish
Cut the pastry to fit the ovendish
[as you can see I didn't do a great job here..]
Put a layer of filopastry down, brush the butter/oil mixture over it
then put the next layer down & brush it, until you've put down all the 7 layers
Cover this with the cheese & spinach mixture
Cover with filo pastry and brush with the butter/oil mixture [same way you did before] until you've done 7 layers
With a sharp knife, cut this all the way trough the pie before baking
you can make diamonds or squares
[for some reason a diamond shape always brings the wow-factor to this pie]
Place the pie in the oven for 45 to 60 minutes
Bake until golden brown and all layers are crispy
and serve - it goes really well with Greek salad!