September 4, 2010

Greek Spanakopita Recipe

This is what my spinach pie looks like before I put it in the oven. You’ll need to score it with a sharp knife before you cook it or you will have trouble dishing it up once it’s done. You will have crunchy filo dough everywhere if you don’t score it before you cook it.

Here’s what mine looks like when it’s done cooking. Spanakopita is a Greek dish. Tradition in Greece for the New Year is to make some sort of cake or pie and add a coin wrapped in tin foil to the mix. Whoever should bite into the pie finding the coin is supposed to have good luck for the entire year.

What You Will Need

* Cooking Brush
* Metal Baking Pan (17 x 11 1/2 x 2 1/4)
* 1 Large Onion
* Vegetable Oil
* 1 Packaged of Chopped Spinach
* Dill Weed
* Salt & Pepper
* 1 Box of Filo Dough
* 5 Large Eggs
* 3 Packages of Feta Cheese (If you get a huge block of Feta from Sam’s Club you can probably use 3/4 of that and it would work out fine too.)
* Parkay Margarine (My Mom always said it has to be the one that has 60% vegetable oil so that is what I’ve always used. I did try it once with a different type of butter and it didn’t turn out quite as good.)

Prep Work

Initially you’ll want to store the filo in the freezer if you are not going to cook the Spanakopita right away. Before you do cook the Spanakopita you’ll want to move the box of filo from the freezer to the fridge. The night before you cook the spinach pie just put the box of filo out on the counter from the fridge overnight. You don’t have to take the filo out of the box to thaw. Leave it in the box.

Directions

Chop 1 large onion. In frying pan or skillet brown the chopped onion in a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil. Put the chopped spinach frozen straight from the box into the pan and let it cook while the onion is browning. Cover the pot while the spinach and onion are cooking. Sprinkle Dill Weed, Salt and Pepper over the browned spinach and onion mix while it’s cooking. After the spinach and onion are browned and all the juices are steamed out (you do not want it soggy or wet) set it aside to cool towards room temperature.

In a large bowl you’ll want to start cutting up your feta. I usually just take a fork and mash it up. It doesn’t have to be super fine. You want it to be somewhat chunky so when people bite into their piece of the pie they get a taste of the cheese. But do mash it up. Once you’ve got it mashed up in your large bowl then you can work on your eggs.

Beat 5 Large Eggs in another bowl. Once that’s all mixed up with a fork you can add it to the cheese and then mix that up real well. By that time the spinach and onion mixture should be cool. Add that to the cheese and eggs and mix it all up. All of this should be done by hand. No machines required. It wouldn’t work out if you used a machine. Set everything to the side.

In a small sauce pan on the stove you’ll want to start melting some of that Parkay on low. My husband usually buys me 5 or 6 small tubs of that Parkay with the 60% vegetable oil. I start with one tub and go from there. All I do is grab a serving spoon and plop some Parkay in the sauce pan and allow it to melt slowly on low heat. While that’s working I grease my metal baking pan with more Parkay.

You’ll need to figure out how many sheets of filo you are working with. Some boxes come with them already separated out into two batches. That’s Nice! If you pick up filo that doesn’t do that you’ll want to make sure to use half the sheets for the bottom of your pan and the other half for the top of the pan with the spinach, egg and cheese mixture being the filling in between all of the layers.

So you’ll start laying your filo dough one at a time in the bottom of the pan making sure to brush the melted Parkay in between the layers. Do this every single time you put filo down to cover the bottom of the pan. Try and work it out so that it’s even across the pan. You’ll figure out a way to eye ball the sheets and make it work because it’s not going to be a perfect fit. Also, make the filo come up a little bit on the sides of the pan all the way around the pan for the bottom half of the pie.

Once the first half of the filo dough has been set up you’ll add the spinach, cheese and egg mixture to the pan spreading it out as evenly as possible. I use the back of a big spoon to spread it out. You could probably use one of those icing utensils to do the same thing too. Once you get the mixture level you’ll start adding the rest of the filo brushing melted Parkay in between each layer to finish up the top of the pie.

After completing the layers roll the edges and brush with melted Parkay all along the sides and on the top of the pie. Using a sharp knife cut half way into the pie and make even slices for serving later. I believe in the cooking world it’s called scoring. If you don’t score your pie before cooking it then you will have problems cutting out the pieces to serve.

WARNING ! ! !

The Filo is extremely flaky and crunchy after it’s cooked and will make a HUGE mess when you are trying to cut the pieces. So pre-cutting OR scoring through the pie BEFORE cooking it is VERY important.

Make sure you preheated your oven to 400 degrees so it will be ready to go by the time you are finished getting everything together in the pan. I usually cook my Spinach Pie on 400 degrees for about 30 minutes. Once it hits the 30 minute mark I check it to see if it’s golden brown kind of like in the picture above. If yours isn’t golden by the time 30 minutes has passed then leave it to cook longer and keep checking it every 5 minutes until it’s done.

In our family we LOVE it. I usually make it for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I LOVE it so much that I can eat it cold for breakfast! If you have any questions at all feel free to leave a comment and I’ll do my best to provide an answer as soon as I can. I’d love to hear how this turns out for you.

Let me know if it would help to see some pictures. I do have some.

March 2010

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