Spanakopita

In the small Iowa town I grew up in, we had one Greek family – the Grandmother of the family lived across the street from us, and my sister is forever best friends with one of her grandchildren.

Spanakopita
Spanakopita

That’s how I had my first tastes of Greek food. Once, when my Mom was ill, YaYa, the Grandmother, bought dolmades, wrapped in grape leaves from her own vines. Later, visiting a city, I walked by a restaurant and was overcome by the tantalizing smells and had my first Gyro.

In spite of its calories, though, from the butter and cheese, one dish has always remained a favorite: Spanakopita – Greek Spinach Pie. If you’re looking for an impressive main dish vegetarian meal, you can’t go wrong with this recipe, adapted from Ina Garten. Her easy “top” knot version is spectacular when it comes out of the oven, and although not strictly traditional.

The cost is a little high, here, and a little unpredictable because of the specialty items involved, but there will be leftovers – rewarm in the oven to recrisp for a wonderful breakfast/brunch later in the week. You’ll be disappointed if you try to reheat it in the microwave. I serve this alone for a dinner but a few sliced tomatoes make for a pretty addition. Add some Pita Chips and Hummus and you can easily turn Spanakopita into a party.

Spanakopita; Greek Spinach Pie

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

  • 3 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground pepper
  • 3 (10 oz) packages frozen chopped spinach, well thawed
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons dried bread crumbs
  • 1/2 pounds feta, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (two packages – weight doesn’t need to be exact)
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts (pignoli)
  • 8 ounces salted butter, melted
  • 6 sheets phyllo dough, defrosted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

In an 8 inch saute pan with a ovenproof handle, melt butter, transfer to a small dish.  Add olive oil and saute onions until translucent, add salt and pepper and allow to cool.  Set pan aside.

Squeeze out and discard as much of the liquid from the spinach as possible.  (I like to wrap in a clean kitchen towel and twist.)  Put in a large bowl and then gently mix in the rest of ingredients.

Lay your phyllo dough out and cover with a barely damp towel.  Working with one sheet at a time, brush with butter, then add another sheet right on top, brushing it as well.  Continue until all six sheets are used.  Pick them up all at once and fit into pan with edges hanging over.

Carefully scoop filling into the center of the pan and fold the excess dough over the top, overlapping in the center.  Gently form the excess into a rough “top knot” in the center.

Brush the top with the melted butter and bake for one hour, until the top is golden and brown, cool completely and serve barely warm or at room temperature.

Refrigerate leftovers and reheat in a 350 degree oven for several minutes to crisp the phyllo.

Note:  If your phyllo dough comes in the smaller half sheets, just lay them in the pan one by one and butter, building it up in a circular pattern, like a star, with the short edges going in the center and the rest hanging over the pan, overlapping, then fill and fold over.

from the kitchen of http://www.frugalhausfrau.com

Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:

  • Use a coupon matching site! One of my favorites in my area is Pocket Your Dollars, but every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings! I check their site every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.
  • Follow my 12 Strategies – You’ll see them on the upper drop down menu of every page and how I apply them, below.
  • Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
  • Read Strategies Applied for additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving time and managing food.

Nutrition:

Cal 573; Cal fr fat 392 (68%); sat fat 15g; chol 243mg; sod 967mg; pot 487mg;  tot carb 24g; fib 5g; sug 5g; prot 21g

Put Your own Spin on It:

  • Ina used about a half a cup of grated Parmesan cheese, which I tried – it was delicious, but seemed a bit like gilding the lily.
  • If you don’t care so much about staying true to the spinach/feta mixture, you could try an addition or substitution of some other type of cheese – kids may be more likely to warm up to this if it had some gooey mozzarella layered in.

Spanakopita ran about $6.00 when I made it.

Comments and discussion always welcome - tell me what you think.

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