Growing up, I was always a little embarrassed to be part Greek. I never thought it was fair that I had naturally frizzy hair or that I had to learn the art of plucking my bushy eyebrows. It was never easy explaining to friends why my parent’s house had a shrine to Greece and holy water basically on tap. It took my first trip to Greece to realize how amazing my culture really was. I eventually learned how to tame my hair and somehow bushy eyebrows are now back in style. My friends don’t seem to mind when my mom offers shots of ouzo and I kind of enjoy having homegrown grapes from my backyard.
Greece may always have a special place in my heart….
Since my mom is Greek, I grew up eating feta and hummus at a young age. When it came to favorites…spanakopita was always at the top of my list. Spanakopita is basically a Greek spinach pie. I have to say, those Greeks must be pretty smart if they are able to get a child hooked on the usually despised green leafy veggie.
Just like any Greek dish there are dozens of versions/methods of making it. Ask another Greek and they will tell you their yiayia can make it better anyways! My mom taught me her recipe and just as any other Greek would say, “it’s the best version out there”. My mom makes her spanakopita in a casserole or baking pan. This may not be the traditional “triangle” style but it’s just as delicious and much more practical for dinner parties. This past Saturday, my mom and I made the dish. Check out the recipe below:
One large bag of frozen spinach (found in the frozen veggie seciton of the market)
1/2 cup chopped leeks
1/4 cup of chopped red onion
1/4 green onion chopped
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 package of phyllo dough
1 package of feta cheese
4 eggs lightly beaten
1/2 cup olive oil
1.) Start by microwaving your frozen spinach until it is fully thawed. Your spinach will hold excessive water which will turn your spanakopita into a soupy mess. In a bowl squeeze out the excess water and separate.
2.) Next, mix your leeks, garlic, and onions with your spinach and set aside.
3.) Separate your phyllo dough sheets into two sections. Phyllo dough can be tricky to use. It dries very fast and can rip easily. The best way to keep it workable is to keep a damp napkin over the dough when you aren’t using it.
4.) In a large rectangle pan, brush olive oil along the bottom. Take your first section of phyllo and one-by-one start layering the bottom your pan with the sheets of dough. Brush olive oil in between each layer.
5.) Once you have layered the first section of phyllo, sprinkle your spinach and onion mixture.
6.) Crumble your feta cheese and pour 1/2 of the egg mixture on top of the cheese.
7.) Next, fold in the sides of the phyllo dough.
8.) Using the second section of phyllo dough sheets, one-by-one cover the top of your mixture. Be sure to brush olive oil in between each sheet. Tuck in the edges of the dough to seal filling.
9.) Once completed, brush olive oil and the remaining egg mixture on top of your phyllo dough. This will give your dish a beautiful golden brown color when cooked.
10.) Place in the oven at 350 degrees and cook until golden brown (about 30 minutes).
Ready to serve! Opa!