Sunday, April 17, 2011


I won't pretend to be Greek, but the great thing about having lived all over the country, I met a wonderful friend when we lived in Thousand Oaks, California, who was of Greek heritage and she taught me a thing or two about their cooking.  I first had spanakopita at their son's baptism reception and fell in love with the flavors.  The feta and spinach "marry" beautifully together enveloped in phyllo dough--what's not to like!

This savory dish is mostly eaten as a snack in Greece. I've done an appetizer version with the phyllo cut in strips and folded (like a flag) into a triangle, which is my husband's favorite, but tonight I wanted to make it as a main dish, accompanied by a salad for a light Spring dinner.  I will admit, I've never attempted to make homemade phyllo dough and not likely to do so in the near future since good quality phyllo can be purchased at any grocery store.
One pound of phyllo comes with two wrapped rolls and this recipe only requires one, so freeze the other one for a later use or make up a batch of Baklava...which is for another day.

1 lb. pkg. Phyllo dough (defrost in the refrigerator)
16 oz. frozen chopped spinach
1 T olive oil
3 shallots, minced

In a medium saute pan, saute the shallots in the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the entire bag of chopped spinach and stir together.  Lower heat to medium/low and continue to cook until all the moisture (that is released from the spinach) is absorbed.  Set aside to cool.

12 oz. (about 2 cups) Feta cheese
3/4 cup sour cream
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 scallions, chopped
1/4 chopped parsley
2 tsp. dried dill or 2 T fresh dill
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 T lemon juice
1 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. cayenne
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 T Italian bread crumbs

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl, then, fold in the cooled spinach.  
Melt 12 T (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
Grated Parmesan or a combination of Parmesan/Romano cheese (which is what I used)
Preheat oven to 400F-degrees

Butter a 9" x 13" Pyrex dish with butter.  Place the first sheet of phyllo dough down and brush it with butter.  (Keep a damp towel over the remaining phyllo to keep it fresh).
Continue to place a single layer of phyllo and brush with butter until you have 12 layers.  Spoon the filling on top of the phyllo and spread smoothly.  Layer a sheet of phyllo on top of the filling, then, sprinkle with the grated cheese.  This step, as I discovered in Cook's Illustrated, keeps your top layers from lifting as the cheese melts and "cements" the layers.
Continue layering and buttering until the remaining phyllo sheets are used (approximately 6 or 7).  Brush the final top layer and sprinkle with cheese.  

Place the glass baking dish on a baking sheet and place in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown.
Cool about 10 minutes and cut into squares.

One of my favorite movies in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" and I watched it last week when I was in Kentucky with Ari.  The movie reminded me of my friend and my introduction to their cuisine, almost 30 years ago.  Enjoy!



  1. Ok, I'll make this for an upcoming looks GREAT and it makes my mouth water. But you have to promise to come and help me make it.

    I am chin deep in birds for the new bird book...instead of talking I now chirp, tweet, and hoot.

    Thinking of you and YES, I loved that movie too.



  2. Absolutely...I'm there! And, chirping that I have such a friend as you. XOXO

  3. Wow! What a glamour shot at the beginning of this blog! I almost got up and started cooking it looked so good. I have never used phyllo dough before. I'll have to try. Thanks for sharing such a delicious recipe. Also wanted to thank you for the garlic advice.

  4. thank you...i was waiting for this one. have an amazing easter. xx.