March 15, 2010
by Gareth Mark
Spanikopita, sometimes called spinach pie, is a classic, easy dish. It can be made with fresh spinach or frozen, with feta or your preferred cheese, with or without eggs, and with butter or olive oil. It can be served warm, cold, or room temperature. It's not at all fussy to make, and lasts a week in the refrigerator, which is why it's an excellent choice for work or school lunches.
If you're going to use frozen spinach, get the chopped version. It's easier to deal with. Leave it in the refrigerator for a day or two before you prepare it so it will be thawed. If you chose to use fresh spinach, clean and blanch it. In either case, you'll need about 2 pounds (1 kilo). The day before you want to assemble the spanikopita, put the spinach into a colander set in a bowl and weight it with something. You'll want to let the spinach drain for as much as 24 hours to dry it out.
Assembly is simple. Mix the drained spinach with your choice of cheese (at least 8 ounces, more if you wish), salt to taste, some herbs (chopped fresh dill is nice), the zest of one lemon, and one egg if you want the pie to hold together well.
Next you'll need phyllo dough and melted butter or extra-virgin olive oil. Brush the butter onto about 7 layers of dough and line a baking dish (8"x12" or 9"x13"). You should have dough covering the bottom and sides of the baking dish. Put the filling in and top with another 7 layers of dough brushed with butter.
Finally, bake it in a 350° oven for about an hour, until the top is nicely browned. See? Easy as it gets.