I made spinach pie last night, or `spanakopita’ . This particular recipe is my own version. You probably have tried spinach pies with filo dough, with no cheese or with feta cheese or with “kefalotyri” (Greek hard yellow cheese) . This one is with puff pastry (“sfoliata” in Greek). Puff pastry is great, you don’t need to butter every sheet, you only need two sheets, and it’s available in the frozen section of the supermarkets, at least in Greece and the U.S. Feta cheese and ‘kefalotyri’ are great but they can be hard (and expensive) to find if you do not live in Greece. I use Parmesan instead and not even the the super expensive Italian variety that you would probably need for a salad or your gourmet pasta dish. I buy about two cups of grated Parmesan from Trader Joe’s for less than $5.
- 4-5 tablespoons olive oil or butter
- one chopped onion or 5-7 chopped shallots
- one bag frozen chopped spinach (half a kilo/one pound)
- 1 1/2-2 cups milk
- salt, pepper
- 1 cup chopped parsley & dill mixed (ok if you have only one of the two)
- 4 eggs beaten
- 1 cup bread crumbs (plain)
- 2 cups grated Parmesan
- 2 sheets puff pastry defrosted
- sesame seeds
How to make: Put oil or butter in a large and deep pan. Saute chopped onion or shallots for about 5 minutes. Add spinach and saute for another 5 minutes. Add the milk, cover and cook in low heat for 15 minutes. You may need 2 cups milk but start with 1 1/2 and add midway if you see you’re running low. When done,turn off the heat and add salt & pepper to your taste. Stir. Add parsley/dill, stir. Add bread crumb, stir. Add Parmesan, stir. Add eggs, final stir. Place one puff pastry sheet (defrosted!) at the bottom of a 4 quart pyrex dish. Using your fingers, stretch it, if needed, so that it covers the bottom entirely and is lifted a little at the sides. Add the spinach mix and spread evenly. Add the second puff pastry sheet on top. Again, make sure that it’s big enough to cover the pan and a bit of the sides. Using a fork, give it a nice look (and make it stick) by pressing the sides of the pastry against the walls of the pan. Put some water in a cup and using your finger sprinkle a few drops here and there on top of the pastry. Sprinkle lots of sesame all over the top and bake for about 50 minutes or until it gets a nice dark gold color (see photo).
Notes and tips. Of course, you can use fresh spinach! I’m giving you the quick way here. Frankly, I can’t remember anymore when I last used fresh spinach for this pie. If you do use fresh spinach, clean it and put it in boiling water for couple of minutes and then chop it. The spinach mix must be thick but with a lot of moisture. Before you add it in the pyrex dish, take a good look. If it’s come out too watery, add more bread crumbs. If it’s too dry, add some milk or better yet one more egg. I get the puff pastry from a Greek store that happens to make it at the right size for my dish. If you get it from a U.S. supermarket it’s probably a little smaller. Not a problem. When it’s soft, stretch it gently with your hands. Or use a pan that’s the size of the puff pasty sheets but then the mix will be too much. 🙂 You do not need to oil/butter the bottom of the pyrex dish when you use puff pastry, in case you were wondering. About the pyrex dish, you probably have heard that there are now pyrex dishes made in China after the company was aquired by World Kitchen LLC that have been reported to explode. So watch out, especially if you got your pyrex recently or if you have thinned it out from many years of use.
Feedback from family: Everybody loves this pie and remains a favorite after many years. My kids started eating this when they were one year old. Spinach rocks!