Thursday, May 3, 2012
Spanakopita (Spinach Pie)
Spanakopita is a Greek spinach pie. In this version, the papery-thin layers of phyllo pastry hold a spinach filling with leeks, scallions, dill, feta, Parmesan, and ricotta. Agapi Stassinopoulos said on The Martha Stewart Show that the inclusion of ricotta is untraditional but makes the pie sweeter. She happens to be Arianna Huffington's sister, and this is their mother's recipe.
Like all spanakopita dishes it takes some time to put together, and my least favorite part is squeezing the water out of fistfuls of spinach. I used thawed frozen spinach, but if you go the fresh route you'll still have to steam or saute the spinach to release the water from the leaves to avoid a soggy pie. Also, I used a decidedly non-Greek cooking vessel -- the wok. There was so much filling it would have come up to the rim of my saute pan, making it difficult to stir.
But when it's all assembled and ready to go in the oven, the house has started to warm up and you can just sit back and wait. And think back to last week when it was sunny and springlike, instead of cold and grey like today. And then dig into some good spinach pie.
From The Martha Stewart Show
½ cup olive oil
½ cup finely chopped fresh dill
6 scallions, finely chopped
2 small leeks, finely chopped
3 pounds frozen chopped spinach, defrosted, rinsed, and squeezed to remove excess liquid
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 to 16 ounces whole-milk ricotta cheese
6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 large eggs
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted -- You can start with 1 stick and see if you need more
1 package 12-by-17-inch sheets phyllo, such as Apollo #4
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add dill, scallions, and leeks and cook, stirring, until scallions and leeks are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add spinach and cook, stirring, until heated through and well combined, about 2 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper.
Transfer spinach mixture to a large bowl; transfer bowl to refrigerator until cooled, about 20 minutes.
Add ricotta, feta, and Parmesan cheeses to cooled spinach mixture. Lightly beat 2 eggs and add to spinach mixture; stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Brush a 3-inch-deep, 9-inch-by-13-inch baking dish with butter. Trim phyllo to size of pan. Working quickly and keeping remaining phyllo covered with plastic wrap topped with a warm towel to keep moist, place one sheet of phyllo in prepared baking dish and brush with butter; top with another sheet. Repeat process until you have 10 sheets of phyllo in baking dish.
Pour spinach mixture into baking dish. Top with another 10 layers of phyllo, tucking edges to seal and brushing with melted butter between each layer. Transfer to refrigerator until firm, 15 to 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375°. Lightly beat remaining egg and set aside.
Remove spanakopita from refrigerator and, using a sharp knife, gently cut through the top layer of phyllo to create eight 5-by-2½-inch pieces. Brush with beaten egg and transfer to oven. Bake until golden, 45 to 60 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand 5 to 10 minutes before serving.