Simple dishes can be tasty and not take as much time to make. This is one such recipe. I will admit that I am a bit of a slow cook and my partner has come to accept that if it is my turn to cook, dinner won’t be served until 8 (if I start at about 6:30 that is). With the spanakopita, we had well and truly finished by 8. Hooray!
I have previously made this pastry with puff pastry sheets and they turn out as well but are on the greasy side. I much prefer the filo pastry sheets where I can control the amount of butter/margarine in the dish. I’m all for fresh vegetables and greens but in this particular recipe, I prefer using frozen spinach as it doesn’t contain as much moisture as its fresh counterpart. Too much moisture will make a soggy pastry so I would squeeze as much water out of the spinach as I could before adding it to the pastry. My favourite part of this pastry is the gooey feta as it comes out of the oven so eat it hot – even if it threatens to burn your tongue.
6 filo pastry sheets, thawed (or purchased from the fridge section in the supermarket where they have been pre-thawed)
250 gms of frozen spinach
200 gms of feta , chopped into small pieces or crumbled
5-6 slivers of sundried tomato, chopped into pieces
2 teaspoons of pinenuts, toasted
2 tablespoons of melted butter/margarine (you may not end up using it all)
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
1 generous teaspoon of ground pepper
1 teaspoon of sesame seeds for decoration
1. Thaw the spinach in the microwave. It took me 3 bursts of 3 minutes in the microwave to get my spinach to a usable state.
2. Quickly squeeze the excess liquid from the spinach and give it another minute in the microwave.
3. While the spinach is still hot, add the feta and mix the two together with the back of a fork. The heat melts the feta just a little and allows the two to blend nicely.
4. Add the sundried tomato, pinenuts, nutmeg and pepper to the spinach-cheese mixture and mix well.
5. Line a pie/tart/quiche dish with non-stick baking paper.
6. Brush the first layer of file pastry with melted butter/margarine and place it butter-side-down on the baking paper. Now brush the side facing you with some more margarine.
7. From the second layer onwards, brush just one side of the filo pastry.
8. Place the second layer of filo pastry perpendicularly to the first one (to make a cross if you will), butter-side-up.
9. Place the third layer perpendicular to the second and parallel to the first, again, with the buttery side facing you.
10. Continue this stacking until you are through all your filo sheets. You might find the sheets tearing as they are delicate but don’t worry as the dish still stays in one piece.
11. Tip the spinach and cheese mixture into the middle of the pastry and spread evenly around the base of the pie dish.
12. Now fold in the four edges of the cross towards the middle of the pie dish to form a square.
13. Brush some more margarine/butter on the top and place in a 200ºC oven for 10 minutes until the sides have started to brown.
14. Now sprinkle the sesame seeds on top of the pastry and return to the oven for a further 5-10 minutes until the top is a golden brown.
15. Cool the pastry for 5 minutes and cut diagonally to make 4 triangular servings.
16. If you are feeling up to it, serve the pastry with a salad of olives, tomatoes and cucumber. Otherwise, just dig in.
1. If you are using a puff-pastry sheets instead of filo, you only need one layer and no margarine.
2. An alternate filling option to feta and spinach is ricotta and pumpkin.
3. Putting the sesame seeds on top at the start results in them being burnt so add them half way through the baking process or leave them out of the recipe.
4. This dish reheats quite well and we enjoyed a slice each for lunch the next day after heating in the microwave for a minute.