Spanakopita

A cheesey, spinachy Greek pastry. When a dish is this (seemingly) simple ingredients need to be top notch and technique counts. There may be steps in the recipe that don’t seem necessary but don’t skip them! It will be worth it in the end.

This is a very large recipe. I gave a big portion here because Spanakopita is great for feeding a crowd, and it makes handy leftovers.

Ingredients

1 packet filo pastry

2 kg spinach or kale, destemmed

50g fresh dill, finely chopped

500g feta

500g ricotta

4 Spanish onions, diced

2 tsp each cinnamon, nutmeg and cumin

salt and pepper to taste

12 eggs – 11 for the filling and 1 for egg wash

250g butter

olive oil

salt and pepper

Directions

Put a large heavy bottomed saucepan over a medium heat. Add enough oil to coat the base and add the onions. Cook until softened and translucent. Keep stirring so they don’t take on any colour.  When you’re happy with the onions add salt, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg and cumin. Cook for a good while longer so they become nicely caramelised. Maybe another ten minutes. If you feel you have gone too far with any spices you can balance it out by adding a squeeze of lemon juice.

Prep the greens while the onions cook. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and blanch in batches. Use a spider or large slotted spoon to place them immediately into ice water to stop the cooking and preserve flavour and colour.

Squeeze all the water out of the greens, one handful at a time and give a rough chop.

In a large bowl mix the cheeses, cooked onions, greens, dill, and 11 eggs. Fry off a little bit in a frying pan to check the seasoning, and adjust if necessary. An extra step, I know, but worth it.

Place the filo pastry between two slightly damp tea towels. Be warned : too wet and the filo will melt onto them, not wet enough it will dry out and crack.

Lightly brush the base of your tin with olive oil, then place one layer of filo on the base.  Pour the spinach filling on top. Now you can start layering the pastry. Place each sheet of filo gently on top. They will probably break but don’t worry, just patch them together so the whole surface is covered. Brush each one generously with butter before layering on the next. Don’t be shy! More butter = more flavour. More flavour = more good.

Brush the spanakopita with egg wash. I recommend slicing it into portions before you bake it, as the filo can snap and crackle all over the place if cut when cooked. Bake at 180C for 25 – 30 minutes.

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