Monday, April 6, 2009


UPDATED- Cooked product from Orthodox Easter.
Most people associate Spanakopita with Greek restaurants and with good reason- everyone and their yiayia (grandma) have their own approach. However, one thing is universal- it is hard to resist crispy phyllo, feta and spinach.

In reality, pies made with phyllo are primarily made in Northern Greece and let me say they do it well. I don't know if this recipe would necessarily fly in my husband’s area of Greece (Epirus). Although this recipe produces pies that may be more heavy on the cheese than most traditional recipes, these are hands down the best spanakotiropitakia I have ever consumed and is my most requested dish.
I am not a fan of spanakopita, (spinach pie) made in the traditional pie approach with layers of ingredients. It seems by the time you reach the middle of your pie the spinach is soggy, and there never seems to be enough phyllo. Spanako-tiro-pit-akia (loosely translated: spinach, cheese, pie that is small) have a special place in my heart because my mom and I have created an approach to this most beloved recipe.

These make elegant appetizers or a perfect complement to most meals. There are three principles to good spanakotiropitakia:
1.) Patience
2.) Fresh spinach
3.) Did I say patience?

What I like most about this approach is that these pies are freezer friendly. I spent nearly 3 hours from start to finish. All that work reaps excellent benefits!

Yields 80 pieces
2 boxes of thin phyllo(not country style)
2 lbs. bagged fresh curly spinach
1 1/2 lb. mild Greek feta
1 lb. fresh ricotta
1 medium onion grated
2 tablespoons chopped dill
1 tablespoon black pepper
1/2 cup of really good extra virgin olive oil
5 extra large eggs
4 sticks of salted butter
Large pastry brush
Freezer bags

2-3 Days Before:
-Purchase all items.
-Clear your schedule for a day of spanakotiropitakia making.
Day Before:
-If using frozen phyllo- remove from the freezer and place in the refrigerator.
-Remove spinach from the package and discard stems. Place spinach in a large bowl fill with cold water and wash thoroughly. Drain and dry. Cover with tea towel and place in a cool dry area.
Morning of:
-Remove phyllo from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature. Make sure phyllo is fully defrosted at room temperature prior to starting.

-Melt 2 sticks of butter in a small sauce pan and keep warm.
-Chop spinach into small pieces and place in a large bowl. Add grated onion, dill
and pepper.

-Add ricotta and crumbled feta (about 1/8 inch pieces).

- In a small bowl beat the eggs.
-To the spinach mixture add the olive oil, cheeses and beaten eggs. (photo) Using a large wooden spoon or clean hands, mix well. Spinach volume will reduce. Mixture should be rather thick and not runny. If it is runny add some bread crumbs. If it appears dry, add an additional egg.

- Open phyllo and smooth out top piece and ensure all pieces are even. Using a sharp knife, cut the sheets in half, length wise. NOTE: Cover with moist towel so
phyllo does not dry out.

-Place phyllo piece on clean surface. Lengthwise generously brush with butter.
-Fold the piece in thirds. Brush again with butter.

-At the end closest to you- add a rounded teaspoon of the spinach mixture.-Fold upward then over then upward again to form a triangle.

-NOTE: Only open the second the second box of phyllo when ready to use. Melt additional butter as needed. -Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
-Storage: using a sharp knife pierce each triangle and place in freezer bags.


BMK said...

These looks amazing! Thanks for sharing your recipe!

Peter M said...

Ummm, love these Trgonakia with spinach and cheese. My family's recipe always includes myzithra (ricotta) too!

Barb Wireless said...

Hi, I've been planning to use this recipe for months and am finally going to attempt it. I was just wondering whether you bake them before or after freezing?


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