The traditional filling of spinach pie (σπανακόπιτα) is a mixture of spinach, feta cheese, onion or scallion and eggs. The ingredients are mixed together then wrapped in phyllo pastry sheets that have been brushed with butter before being baked to golden brown perfection!
In the Ottoman Empire, phyllo pastry was used to wrap various savory fillings. The Turkish word “börek” is etymologically derived from the Greek πύρινος (pyrinos), meaning “of or relating to cheese”. Following this tradition in Greece, dishes such as spanakopita and tiropita can be made with layers of butter-coated filo dough containing a mixture of cheeses and meats or spinach; these are then baked until they form crisp golden brown crusts enclosing deliciously moist cheesy mixtures that can be served hot or cold on their own or as appetizers at meze tables.
The Greeks have been preparing this savory pie for many centuries. It is said that the recipe has an ancient root and probably has been influenced by the Ottoman cuisine, since spinach was a very popular ingredient in Turkish cooking when it arrived in Greece. The authentic Greek spanakopita recipe requires phyllo pastry dough to be layered with spinach, feta and herbs and spices.
What is a spinach pie?
The origin of the word spanakopita is simple and rather revealing. The spinach pies are called this because they resemble little envelopes (pites) that contain something – in this case, cheese and eggs or meat – wrapped within a dough envelope.
Spanakopita can be eaten hot or cold on its own as an appetizer or in large squares as a main course. The traditional way to serve spanakopita is with a glass of water or white wine, and accompanied by plain yogurt. In this recipe we make our own phyllo dough far superior to what is in the supermarket.
The phyllo dough
We start with a simple dough that can be made in advance and kept, sealed airtight in the refrigerator for up to three days. The pastry-making technique is one we all know – slicing thin strips of butter into the flour before using just enough water to bind it together into a firm dough.
The filling is also quite easy to make. You just need to chop the onions and saute them in butter for a few minutes. Add spinach, salt and pepper – cook until soft then add feta cheese, eggs or meat– whatever you prefer. We use a mix of feta, cottage and ricotta cheese to make the filling extra creamy.
The following recipe and how-to video will show you the steps to make a delicious Greek spinach pie with phyllo dough, straight from our kitchen! If you are not interested in a traditional spinach pie try it in a Big Fat Greek Dumpling!
Greek Spinach Pie in Fresh Phyllo Dough
Spinach Pie Filling
- 6 bunches Fresh Spinach Washed and Rough Chopped
- 1 lb(s) Cottage Cheese
- 1 lb(s) Ricotta Cheese
- 1 lb(s) Feta Cheese Crumbled
- 1 bunch Dill Thinly sliced
- 1 bunch Parsley Thinly sliced
- 1 bunch Scallions Thinly sliced
- 2 stalk(s) Leeks Washed well and Thinly sliced
- 4 whole Eggs
- 4 tbsp(s) Olive oil
- To Taste Salt & Pepper
Spinach Pie Fresh Filo (See How To Recipe)
- 1 whole Egg
- 3 cup(s) Flour All Purpose
- ¾ cup(s) Water
- 1 stick Butter Cubed and Room Temperature
- 1 tbsp(s) Kosher Salt
- ½ tsp(s) Sugar Granulated
- Gather the ingredients for both recipes.
Spinach Pie Filling Greek Style
- Clean all the greens and begin to thinly slice.
- Begin by adding leeks and onions and sauté until translucent.
- Add parsley, dill, scallions, salt and pepper and sauté.
- Once step 3 & 4 are complete with a translucent look, add spinach and continue to wilt spinach.
- After about 10 minutes the mixture should be cooked. Check by pushing mixture to one side and make sure there is no liquid.
- Add to mixing bowl and make a hole in the center, let it cool for 15 minutes in refrigerator.
- Add the cottage cheese, feta, ricotta and eggs.
- Begin to stir well incorporating all ingredients well and set aside.
- Remove the dough from refrigerator and cut into 1 inch strips.
- Begin to roll out into at least 9 inch length, cut off uneven ends. Egg wash whole strip and add your spinach mixture.
- Begin to roll bottom right point of dough to top left folding it over. Continue till you reach top of dough.
- Once done where you can not fold over any more, cut off the excess dough and place onto cooking mat.
- Once you complete enough to fill a tray, egg wash the top of spinach pies and place in a pre- heated oven 350° degrees for 10-15 minutes.
- Pull from the oven when they are golden brown. You can let them cool or serve hot.