Spanakopita is one of my favorite Greek comfort foods, rivaled only by this moussaka casserole. In a perfect world–like during the holidays–both casseroles find a place at the table.
My six-year-old daughter describes spanakopita this way, “awesome crunchy pie with green stuff on the inside.” And to a large degree, her description is accurate.
Spanakopita is a popular Greek pie made of golden, perfectly crisp, phyllo (or fillo) pastry dough with a comforting filling of spinach and feta. You can certainly make snack-sized spanakopita shaped into triangles or even rolls or cigars, but I tend to make the classic, simple casserole more often
Classic spanakopita filling is simple
The key filling ingredients in a spanakopita recipe are spinach and feta, but equally important is adding plenty of fresh herbs! I used two whole bunches of parsley, and I kept some of the stems to chop along with the leaves (parsley stems pack a ton of flavor!) More flavor is added from the onions, garlic and a little dill weed. You can certainly use dried oregano or thyme, if you like. To bind everything together, I used four large eggs. Note: not every cheese works in spanakopita, it’s best to stick to quality feta cheese.
Do I need to cook the spinach in advance?
This is an easier spanakopita recipe; the quick-n-dirty version so to speak. I do not cook the spinach or any part of the filling in advance. Using chopped frozen spinach (thawed) allows me to simply mix it in with the remaining filling ingredients. But one thing you must do, be sure to drain all liquid from the thawed spinach. I ended up squeezing the spinach by hand a few times until it could no longer produce any liquid. If you do use fresh spinach, you will need to cook it with the onions and garlic, drain, and let cool completely before mixing the filling.
Once you’ve selected quality phyllo (fillo), follow these tips for best results:
- The dough must be thawed properly; too much moisture will make the dough or sheets sticky and hard to manage. When thawing, do not remove the phyllo (fillo) from the package, place it in the fridge 12-14 hours before using.
- Before you begin assembling the spanakopita casserole, unroll the thawed phyllo (fillo) sheets and place them carefully between two ever-so-slightly damp kitchen cloths. This helps the sheets remain lenient so they won’t tear too much.
- Phyllo (fillo) sheets will tear, and that’s perfectly fine. Just make sure you save a couple good sheets for the top of the spanakopita casserole.
- Do not skimp on the butter or oil (I use quality olive oil here instead to keep it light); but do not overdo it either. You need to brush each of the layers with a little olive oil (you can see this in the video above or the step-by-step tutorial below the recipe.
- Prep Time: 20 mins
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
- Yield: 12
- Cuisine: Greek
For the Spinach and Feta Filling
- 16 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well-drained
- 2 bunches flat-leaf parsley, stems trimmed, finely chopped
- 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 eggs
- 10.5 oz quality feta cheese, crumbled
- 2 tsp dill weed
- Freshly-ground black pepper
For the Crust
- 1 16 oz package The Fillo Factory Organic Dough (#4 pasty sheets), properly thawed (see tips above)
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil, more if needed
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
- Before you begin mixing the filling, be sure the spinach is very well drained, and squeeze out any excess liquid by hand.
- To make the filling: In a mixing bowl, add the spinach and the remaining filling ingredients. Stir until all is well-combined.
- Unroll the phyllo (fillo) sheets and place them between two very lightly damp kitchen cloths.
- Prepare a 9 1/2″ X 13″ baking dish like this one. Brush the bottom and sides of the dish with olive oil.
- To assemble the spanakopita: Line the baking dish with two sheets of phyllo (fillo) letting them cover the sides of the dish. Brush with olive oil. Add two more sheets in the same manner, and brush them with olive oil. Repeat until two-thirds of the phyllo (fillo) is used up.
- Now, evenly spread the spinach and feta filling over the phyllo (fillo) crust. Top with two more sheets, and brush with olive oil.
- Continue to layer the phyllo (fillo) sheets, two-at-a-time, brushing with olive oil, until you have used up all the sheets. Brush the very top layer with olive oil, and sprinkle with just a few drops of water.
- Fold the flaps or excess from the sides, you can crumble them a little. Brush the folded sides well with olive oil.
- Bake in the 325 degrees F heated-oven for 1 hour, or until the phyllo (fillo) crust is crisp and golden brown. Remove from the oven. Cut into squares and serve! Enjoy
Squeeze all the liquid out of the thawed spinach (IMPORTANT)! To make the filling: in a mixing bowl add the spinach, parsley, onions, garlic, olive oil, feta, eggs, dill weed, and black pepper! Mix well with a wooden spoon.
Unroll the phyllo (fillo) and place between two lightly damp cloths (see the tips above).
Oil the baking dish. Layer the phyllo (fillo), 2 sheets at a time, brush each layer with olive oil. Do this until you have used up two-thirds of the package.
Once you have placed two-thirds of the phyllo (fillo) down, spread the spinach and feta mixture and smooth out with a wooden spoon so it’s spread evenly.
Continue layering the phyllo (fillo) sheets as you did before, and brush each layer with the olive oil, until you have finished the package. Roll or fold down the excess phyllo (fillo) from the sides. Brush the top layer with olive oil and sprinkle just a tiny bit of water on top.
Bake in 325 degrees F for 1 hour or until the phyllo (fillo) crust is golden brown. Remove from the oven and cut into squares. Enjoy warm!