Thursday, August 2, 2007

Spanakopita



I used to live in the Astoria section of Queens in NYC which is densely populated with many generations of Greek Americans and their gastronomical delights. Let me just say...that is where my obsession with spanakopita originated. Obsession? Yes. It is just so absolutely delectable, savory, light yet hearty, and ever so satisfying. (living in Astoria also gave my a whole new outlook on olives, but that's another story).
After moving from the neighborhood, however, I was in for a rude awakening - no pie! I'd come across a 'version' here or there in my travels, but it never came close to the spanakopita that I'd grown to love so much in Queens. Being a somewhat determined individual, the only solution was obvious; make it myself! This recipe represents my epic quest to recreate the original and is taken from many recipes, grandmothers, and internet searches. It is awesome. Enjoy!
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped (green part)
  • 2 16 oz bags chopped, frozen spinach
  • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 lightly beaten eggs
  • 12 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ c unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 package of phyllo dough
note: if using frozen dough, allow it to thaw in the refrigerator overnight

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

  • melt the butter and olive oil in a medium sauté pan. add the onions and garlic and sauté over low heat until very tender (10-15 minutes), remove from heat, and let cool.
  • meanwhile, microwave the spinach in a large bowl for a few minutes until just thawed (not hot). squeeze the spinach, handful by handful, over the sink to remove water from the spinach, place in another large clean bowl, and let cool.
  • mix together eggs, feta cheese, nutmeg and coriander in a small bowl. mix the scallions, lemon juice, onions and garlic into the squeezed spinach and combine thoroughly. add the egg and cheese mixture to the spinach bowl and mix well.

working with phyllo:
phyllo dough is very thin and flaky causing it to dry out if exposed to the air. to keep the dough supple, cover it with a DAMP (not wet), clean dishtowel between layering.




phyllo covered with a damp towel




assembling the pie:

  • unroll phyllo dough. cutting through all the sheets at once, cut in half vertically, making each dough layer about 13 by 9 inches. cover the cut dough with the damp towel.
  • brush a 13 by 9 inch glass baking pan with the melted butter.
  • remove the towel from dough. place 2 sheets of dough in the pan. brush top layer of dough with the melted butter and add two more layers of dough, brush with melted butter, and repeat layers until there are 4 layers of dough (8 sheets total).
  • use fingers to spread out a thin layer of spinach filling as evenly as possible.
  • repeat process four times, finishing with dough. the assembled pie is layered dough, spinach, dough, spinach, dough, spinach, dough. (it’s easier than it sounds, just think lasagna).
  • bake for 25 minutes or until top is golden and flaky.
let the pie sit for about 10 minutes and cut into squares

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