Title credit: https://open.spotify.com/track/1x62B6kUj0GYPkGGSSPs5g
Spanakopita/σπανακοπιτα with Homemade Phyllo
Makes ~12 servings
1 bunch dill, medium chopped
~1.5 lb (3/4 kg) fresh spinach
1 yellow onion, diced
4 – 5 spring onions, diced
6 – 7 oz (<190 g) good quality feta
1.5 tbsp (15+ g) dried oregano
1 1/4 c (180 g) all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting and rolling
2-3 tbsp (30 – 45 ml) raki (see here)
lots of olive oil, for both
room temperature water, as needed
INSTRUCTIONS (Not as bad as it looks. Do it once and you’ll be a master)
Prepare the Phyllo:
- In a large bowl, add the flour, raki or vinegar, and 3 tbsp (45 ml) olive oil. Using these measurements, follow these instructions to prepare your phyllo dough. While the dough is resting you can prepare the filling.
Prepare the Filling:
- Wash the spinach really well. You can soak it in vinegar and water, and then rinse, to help get any dirt off. In a large pot, fill half way with water and bring to a boil. Place the spinach in the boiling water and bring down to a low simmer. Stir in all the spanich and let it cook for 4 – 5 minutes or until the spinach is just wilting but still bright green and not falling apart. Strain in a collander in the sink and rinse with cool water. Let stand to drain.
- Sautee the onions and sping onions in olive oil until transluscent. You can add a small amount of salt and pepper here, but not too much. Remove from the heat.
- When the spinach has cooled and drained a bit, start removing the liquid completely by taking small hangfuls of the cooked spinach and squeezing out the water. This in an important step. You will find that a lot of water is coming out of the spinach and if you do not remove it your pie will be watery and soggy. Place the drained spinach on a chopping board and repeat unil all the spinach is drained. Once complete, give the spinach a few good chops and pull apart.
- In a large bowl, add the onions, spinach and dill. Cover and set aside or in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Rolling out the Phyllo and Assembling the Pie:
- When you’re ready to assemble the pie, cut the dough into six equal parts. Cover the pieces you’re not rolling out to keep them from drying. Dust your surface and start rolling each piece out to fit the size, more or less, of your baking tray. Here I have used a 37cm x 31cm (14in x 12in) baking pan and the dough comes up over the side in some, but not all, places. It doesn’t need to be perfect; just enough that you can join the edges of the crust.
- To roll your dough very thin, begin by using a regular rolling pin. Dust your surface and place the piece of dough, starting to roll it in your desired shape. You can use the traditional technique even if you’re not rolling circular pieces. Once you have rolled out the dough a few times with the rolling pin, switch to the dowel. You can also use the dowel without rolling the dough around it, by pressing a bit more firmly as you roll out the dough. Always be sure to dust the dough and flip it a few times so that it does not stick. See here and here @ 1:43 for some technique tips (or here for general entertainment and vague technique tips @ 1:56). Note, if it takes you a while to roll out the phyllo, you can pre-roll out the sheets before adding your filing so that it isn’t sitting out too long. Just be sure to dust the sheets with a little flour so they don’t stick to each other.
- Remove your spinach from the refrigerator, as well as your feta and eggs. Preheat the oven to 350F/180C.
- Brush a very light layer of olive oil in the baking pan and between each sheet of phyllo. Add the first three sheets in the baking pan.
- Finish your filing by adding the feta, eggs, oregano and a little salt and pepper to taste. If your feta is very salty, you don’t need to add much salt at all. Combine the mixture with a spoon or your hands. Once combined, add the filing and finish with the last three sheets of phyllo.
- Roll and pinch the edges of the crust into each other to seal the crust. You don’t need to cut any excess crust off; it’s ok if it’s not even throughout.
- Add a generous dash of olive oil to the top of the pie and delicately spread around with your hand, making sure everything is covered. With a knife, gently score the pieces of the pie. You don’t need to cut deeply into the pie but scoring it beforehand will make it easier to cut pieces once the pie is done.
- Bake at 350F/180C for 25 – 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.