Pies are very much loved in Greece. They were traditionally created as a way to use whatever vegetables, herbs, and other foods were available. They represent in many respects the “Greek cuisine of need”, in which the food that is created is interlinked to the changing of the seasons and availability of ingredients.
It takes flour, water, olive oil and vinegar to make the filo and then the cook’s imagination takes over. This week we are making a classic Greek pie, spanakopita. We’ve made a vegan version in the past, which is also traditionally eater during Lent in Greece. The basis of this pie is of course, spinach. Some kind of allium, usually spring onions, red onions or even leeks are used. Feta cheese is a must, as well as eggs for texture. In some households milk, cream or yoghurt is added in the filling, but we decided to keep it classic. You can make your own filo, use store-bought, or even puff pastry! If you can get your hands on large, dark green spinach leaves go for it! They take a while to clean and prep, but I feel they work better here than baby spinach.
1 bunch of spring onions
1 medium leek
1.5kg of spinach (leaves and stalks)
½ cup olive oil (80ml)
1 small bunch of dill, leaves only, finely chopped
250g feta cheese
8 sheets of filo
150ml olive oil
Preheat the oven at 180C.
Finely chop the spring onions, leek and spinach stalks (if any). In a large pot, and over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and gently fry them until translucent and tender.
Roughly chop the spinach leaves and add to the pot, turning up the heat to high. Season with salt and pepper (but remember not to use too much salt, as the feta cheese is salty too). Stir everything together, until the leaves become tender, reduce in volume and all liquid is absorbed, around 20 minutes. Add the dill, remove from the heat and let the spinach cool down.
Crumble the feta cheese in the spinach mixture and add the eggs. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
Brush your baking tray with olive oil and place one sheet of the filo. Brush with olive oil again. Cross over a second sheet of filo, ensuring that the entire surface of your tray is covered. Brush with olive oil. Continue crossing over with olive oil and filo, using four sheets in total.
Place the cool filling in your tray, careful not to break the filo.
Cover with one sheet of filo and brush it with olive oil. Repeat until the top is covered with four sheets of filo. Tuck in the edges. Brush the top with the remaining olive oil.
Score the pie and bake at 180C at the lower rack of your oven for about one hour.