Wednesday 15 February 2012

Spanakopita - Spinach Pie

Spanakopita is always a hit in Greek households. A good friend of mine can eat a whole tapsi (baking tray) if she puts her mind to it - yes you know who you are! My future sister in law (yes, I might be trying to confuse you) cooked it for my daughters birthday and it went down a treat with all the fellow babies too.

It is a healthy and delicious dish, full of flavour if done properly. I find most versions in the UK really don't do it justice. Spanakopita should have loads of fresh herbs in it - not just feta and spinach! Its all about making it taste like a day out in the Greek fields over Spring. Don't laugh! It really should smell and taste like that!

There is also the matter of what pastry you should use for Spanakopita. At home we usually use home made short crust. It is a Greek short crust which is not as crumbly as British short crust pasty - it has a slightly doughy texture to it. In any case, I quite like to use filo - which funnily in Greek means 'pastry'.

When cooking Spanakopita you have to make sure you have at least two of the three herbs listed in the recipe in order for to be worthwhile. Also, don't be shy with the herbs - the more the better. My version of spanakopita also has other vegetables, like leeks, but feel free to add other greens depending on the season and availability. Spinach should be the main ingredient though - hence the name of the dish!

Serves 4-6

1 kg of Spinach (or 500g of spinach and 500g of leeks or other greens)
8 Spring onions, finely chopped
2 eggs, beaten
150g of feta, crumbled
2-3 tbs of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
6 tbs of fresh dill, chopped
1 tbs of fresh mint, chopped
2 packs of pre-bought filo pastry or 1 quantity of home made short crust

Wilt the spinach in a saucepan without adding any liquid. If using leeks, lightly fry them in olive oil, until softened. Drain the spinach, allow for it to cool slightly and mix with all the other ingredients. Add some pepper for seasoning.

Oil a baking dish. Add layers of oiled filo pastry. Work fairly fast if using filo pastry so that it doesn't dry out. Once you have added half the pastry, fill the dish with the filling, then top with oiled filo pastry layers. Fold over the edges, to make it look more presentable.

Bake at 170 (fan oven) for 30 - 40 minutes, or until pastry is nice and golden. 

Enjoy as a main course, starter or side dish.

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