Saturday, January 04, 2014

Spanakopita, span-uh-koh-pi-tuh.


 If you know anyone who is Greek, I am certain you have tasted the flaky, creamy, rustic saltiness that is Spanakopita.  Its name might even flow off your lips like a true immigrant...   
spa·na·ko·pi·ta  span-uh-koh-pi-tuh;

But I bet you never made it before.... 


The ingredients...

5 eggs
1/2 lb feta, (or so) crumbled
15 oz (or so) cottage cheese
1 pkg. cream cheese (at room temperature)
15 oz (or so) ricotta
2 leeks. 
30 oz spinach 3- 10oz frozen chopped spinach thawed and drained or 2 bags of fresh spinach, chopped.
2 T chopped dill
1c chopped parsley (Italian parsley is always preferred.)
2 sticks melted butter  or 1 stick and 1/4 olive oil
one box of filo (not the thick but the regular.)

The (or so) is Greek for- a little more or less won't hurt the recipe.

Preparing the ingredients...
If you are not using fresh spinach, thaw frozen spinach in a colander and drain before you start to gather the other ingredients.

Leave cream cheese out to soften. 

Take filo dough out of box to rest on counter... but be sure to leave it in the plastic packaging. 

Leeks can be dirty and gritty so you have to cut and clean leeks.  You can also use Vidalia onions. 


Sauté leeks in some olive oil and a pinch of salt till tender. 

Meanwhile, as the spinach thaws and the leeks cook, gather your other ingredients... melt butter on low and add olive oil.  Note: You can use 2 sticks of butter or one stick with 1/4 c olive oil. 

Crumble the feta.  I think it's cheaper to crumble your own than buy it crumbled.


Combine cheeses and eggs.


When leeks are ready, squeeze liquid out of spinach and add to leeks. 

Combine leeks/spinach with cheeses.

Add dill, parsley, and stir.


To assemble...

Brush butter onto pan.  You can use a glass pan for a thicker meal portion or a jelly roll/cookie sheet with a lip for smaller appetizer portions.  I am using a glass pan and not brushing butter onto my counter.  :)

Carefully unroll filo dough from packaging.  We call these sheets of filo because if they are fresh and kept moist, they will lay like a bed sheet. 

Keep it under a damp... NOT DRIPPING... tea towel so it doesn't dry out.  Dried filo is useless.

Layer 6 sheets of filo, buttering each sheet, including the part that is hanging over the pan.

layer 1
butter layer

layer 2

6 layers 
Don't worry that the filo sheets are hanging out. 
We will take care of that later.  Just remember to butter it as well. 

Scoop out 1/2 of the filling onto the filo.  You can use 1/3 and break this down into 3 steps... or 1/4 and have 4 steps.  All depends on how much filo you want to use. 

Remember to fill to edge.

Add 2 more sheets, buttering each sheet. 

layer 1
layer 2
Some areas of Greece will prepare spanakopita with rumpled filo sheets,
like a messy bed, during this part of the assembly.  

Repeat above step or add remaining filling.

Remember to keep filo under a towel while you are filling the pan, at least until you get really fast during this process. 

After the last filling, fold the filo that was hanging out of the pan, in... this won't be necessary for the larger pans.

Butter the edges again. 
Cut the filo sheets to fit the pan.

Layer 6-8 more sheets of filo, buttering each sheet.

Almost done. 
Generously butter the top sheet.

Chill and cut before you bake...

Filo is a fickle ingredient.  It needs to stay moist to assemble, and once it cooks it's the flaky pastry you love! Which means you have to cut it before you cook it, or it will be a complete flaky mess.  But if you were to cut it during this part of the process the gooiness of the cheese filling will also make a mess.  To fix this, chill the spanakopita in the fridge (or freezer if you are in a hurry) for 20 minutes so the filling can set. 

Now that your spanakopita has chilled, cut the serving pieces.

I start in the middle to make even proportions. 

Cut in both directions.

One final layer of butter.

Almost done!  You can now freeze it till later or cook it now. 
To freeze...

Cover with wax paper.

Cover with saran wrap.

Cover with aluminum foil and freeze till you need it. 
I do not recommend using a glass pan if you want to freeze the spanakopita. 

When you are ready to bake...

Brush an egg wash over the spanakopita... a beaten egg with 1 T water.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45-60 minutes... the thicker the spanakopita, the longer it will take.

Wait till the top is a golden brown color.




Liz said...

Yummy! I didn't know about the egg wash. So that is how bakers get that golden brown color on the top. I'll give it a try! Love, Liz

Sophia said...

I cannot wait to try your recipe! My mom does not use ricotta. The funny thing is--everyone raves about her spanakopita (it IS good) but I never could figure out what made it just a little different from so many others' homemade spanakopita. I bet it's the ricotta! I'm really looking forward to making your recipe!! It never occurred to me that there would be different versions of the same dish...I grew up watching Mom make it one way and one way only!!

Anonymous said...

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