Spanakopita are a long time Elldrew family favourite; packed with flavour and loaded with spinach and feta, we get to pretend they’re healthy even though they’re not really. From an initial experiment a few years ago they are now a regular on our summer menu, and made in bulk they also freeze beautifully.
Here we show you our current preference for a spanakopita plait in puff pastry, but we’ve also made them in the more traditional filo pastry as both a large “pie” and individual bite sized treats that are perfect for a picnic (more on that in the recipe below).
- 500g frozen leaf spinach
- Glug of Olive oil
- 1 red onion, finely chopped
- 1-2 cloves garlic
- 2-3 spring onions chopped
- Bunch of fresh dill, finely chopped
- Bunch of fresh mint, finely chopped
- Finely grated zest of one lemon
- 250g Ricotta cheese
- 200g Feta cheese
- 4 eggs
- Your choice of pastry (see pastry and notes).
- Defrost the spinach in its shop bought bag (leave in bag: this is important) for a few hours at room temperature or overnight in the fridge.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan and, on a medium-low heat, gently cook the red onion, garlic and spring onions until soft and translucent. It should take around 10 mins; you don’t want them brown nor caramelised.
- Whilst the onion is softening, pierce some holes in the spinach bag and squeeze out as much water as you can. Take the leaves out of the bag and wring again in a colander or using your hands. The more water you squeeze out the better the spanakopita will be.
Elldrew’s handy hint is to use a potato ricer to squeeze out every last drop – we’ve done it with bare hands but it’s super messy!
- In a large mixing bowl lightly beat the eggs with a fork.
- Into the mixing bowl add the dill, mint, lemon, salt & pepper, and the ricotta. Stir well.
- Add the spinach and the onion mixture and crumble in the feta.
- Mix everything well together. And that’s your filling done!
NB: Like most things, better quality ingredients don’t need additional seasoning. The saltiness of this dish various depending on the quality of product so add some seasoning if you are making a low budget batch, the more expensive feta is often salted well.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. With the filling made you can then fill your choice of pastry:
Filo Pastry – the classic Greek choice. We’ve made this as small individual triangular parcels or as a single large pie. Filo is the fiddliest and messiest pastry to work with, but for an authentic result use this.
Puff Pastry – we’ve also done this as individual “half moon” pastries; they’re quick and easy, but the quickest and easiest is a single puff pastry pie. In the pictures we plaited it but you could also just use two sheets in a more basic “sausage roll” style.
In terms of cooking times:
Filo – brush with melted butter and bake one large pie – approx 1 ¼ hrs.
Puff – brush with beaten egg and bake one large pie – approx 40 minutes.
Individual pies – both pastries take around 20 minutes.
In our experience both the filo and puff versions freeze, unbaked, perfectly. You can bake directly from frozen, you just need to adjust the time accordingly. Like most pastries, you can tell when they are a golden brown colour, ready to eat!
- The quantities above make enough filling for around two packets of store bought pastry (around 500-600 grams). Whilst it’s much more than you need, as it’s easy to freeze you might as well make two batches (half to eat now, half to freeze for later).
- Our original recipe uses a combination of fresh spinach and silverbeet, which had to be de-stalked, cleaned, steamed and then every last drop of moisture squeezed out. It was nice and produced a more salty rich flavour, but we felt it wasn’t worth the faff and frozen spinach is so much easier (although we recommend a decent quality frozen spinach).