I think this will be my favorite recipe of 2018.
I know it’s probably too early in the year to say that I have a favorite recipe, but I really love this spanakopita (aka spinach pie). Let’s just say that I’ve set a high standard for all recipes that follow this one.
Spanakopita is usually made in a big pan to serve a lot of people. If you’re my Yiayia (Greek grandma), then you make it in a very big pan. You know, because Greeks like to make enough food to feed an army no matter how many people are coming over. This is the sort of thing that I need to make for a dinner party because my husband and I would be eating a tray of spanakopita for weeks. Not that that’s a bad thing because we love this stuff. We’re trying to eat healthier and this is not exactly healthy food to have in the house. However, I do believe in eating anything I want in moderation so my solution is to make a spanakopita that’s perfect for a dinner for two.
There are a lot of different recipes for spanakopita. So many in fact that my Greek cookbook has three recipes for it. Yes, in just one book. More specifically, the ingredients in the spinach filling can vary from recipe to recipe. I tried to replicate the spanakopita that my Yiayia makes because of course hers is the best ever. This recipe also happens to be similar to what you’d find at many homes and restaurants in Greece.
It’s surprisingly easy to make spanakopita, but it’s kind of time consuming to put together. My husband theorizes that Greek housewives from a long time ago (whenever spanakopita was invented) must have had a lot of time on their hands. You may want someone to chat with while you painstakingly butter every single layer of phyllo dough. Every. Single. Layer. Yes, there is a fair amount of butter going on here. My husband had to try to keep me on task for this one because I kept trying to skip buttering layers and he would tell me that’s not how phyllo dough works. The butter gives you those gorgeous layers of crispiness and it makes it taste delicious. He was right. No cheating. Butter every layer. I did forewarn you that it’s not health food. I’d like to think that the spinach helps to balance out all the butter. 😉
It’s worth the time and effort because it’s absolutely one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. I must have told my husband no fewer than 50 times that this spanakopita was one of the best things I’ve ever made. Valentine’s Day is coming up so it would be the perfect thing to cook up for your honey.
I almost had to fight for my piece because my husband wanted more after he finished his. That’s always the conundrum when I make a small batch recipe. I guess you can say that I achieved my goal of not having leftovers. But then why do I feel gypped? 😉
Spinach Pie (Spanakopita) for Two Recipe
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/2 small onion, finely chopped (equivalent to about 1/4 cup)
- 1 package (10 ounce) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 2 teaspoons dried dill
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (equivalent to about 3/4 cup)
- 16 sheets phyllo dough, thawed
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 x 5 inch pan and set it aside.
- In a skillet, over low/medium heat, add the olive oil and finely chopped onion, and cook it until it’s slightly browned.
- Add the spinach into the skillet and stir everything together. (Don’t forget to make sure that the spinach is thawed and squeezed dry. I placed the thawed spinach in a colander and used paper towels to press the water out.)
- Remove the spinach mixture from the heat and set it aside. Let this rest to get to room temperature.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the egg, parsley, dill, salt, pepper, and feta cheese.
- Add in the spinach mixture and stir everything together and set this aside. (Make sure that the spinach mixture is not hot because you don’t want to scramble the egg.)
- Lay the phyllo dough on a cutting board and cut the pile in half lengthwise. Place half of the pile back into the freezer because you won’t be using those for this recipe.
- Lay 1 phyllo sheet into the pan, lengthwise, and brush melted butter on top of the sheet and up the sides. (It should go up the ends of the pan pretty far.) Do this for 8 phyllo sheets.
- Add the spinach filling on top in an even layer.
- Fold the phyllo sheets that are sticking up on the ends, down onto spinach filling, and brush the tops of the phyllo sheets with melted butter.
- Take the remaining 8 phyllo sheets and cut the pile into about 9 inch pieces. Your goal is that the sheets fit right into pan. I discarded the leftover small pieces.
- Lay 1 phyllo sheet on top of the spinach mixture and brush melted butter on top of the sheet. Do this for 8 phyllo sheets.
- Cut it in half prior to baking. Phyllo is super fragile after crispy so this will allow you to portion it without ruining it later.
- Bake it in the preheated oven for 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
- Let it sit for about 5 minutes before serving.
Source: Tina’s Chic Corner
Wow! Your pictures are amazing of this delicious looking dish. Can I substitute olive oil for the melted butter?
Thank you! Yes, you can substitute.
So you use the same amount of Filo for this version for two as you do for the larger recipe? 16 sheets each? Thanks.
In her recipe instructions here, Tina cuts the phyllo in half, and puts half back in the freezer.
Exactly. Thanks, Barbara.
The directions specify the number of phyllo sheets to use for this smaller recipe.
You could use the same amount as I do for the larger recipe but that means that your layers of phyllo will be quite thick.
Hi! This looks amazing, and as my husband is a huge fan of spanakopita, It’s great that I can make it for him without making enough for an army. Just wondering why you use dried herbs instead of fresh? This is the first time I’ve seen it done that way. Thanks!
Both fresh & dried herbs work but I always have dried ones on hand so I lean towards using that.
Would this still work by preparing the evening before and baking the next day?
i have made with fresh spinach and never had a problem in fact the way the greeks taught me that i worked for they used fresh spinach plus used fresh endive –romaine and watercress leaf lettuce and mixing it with green onion tops only– the eggs and oil then mozz and cheddar mixture
Karen, that sounds wonderful!
Can you use fresh spinach if you wilt it?
Diane, I have never tried to re-freeze wilted spinach or freeze fresh spinach.
Tina, diane is not asking to do either. She wants to use fresh spinach, which would require it to be steamed first to wilt it down before adding to the recipe, otherwise it would be too bulky. I love spinach so look forward to trying your recipe. Thanks.
Jean, thank you for pointing that out. I’m not sure how I read that wrong. I agree with your technique on how to use fresh spinach. 🙂
You can freeze fresh spinach.
I freeze bags of spinach salad for smoothies.
Verse spinazie is goed in te vriezen,je moet het echter bevroren verwerken.
What a super recipe! Thank you so much for sharing….it’s a perfect way to celebrate a quiet date night dinner with a special someone!
Yay! I am so happy to hear it!
This is fabulous! I love spanokopita and needed a good recipe. I do like a bit more filling tho. So i dobles the filling and made 1-1/2 portions. Yes, i has a tiny square dish to use that the neighbors used to bring over a treat. I have it back with this in it. They lived it too!0
The thicker the better! So happy to hear it was a hit!
I’ve had it numerous times now, but they’ve always been appetizers. I’m certainly going to try this, because I feel a pig hovering over the serving dish trying to act casually. I’ve also been known to beg for the leftovers. I know no shame!!!
Lol. I love this as a dinner because I get a bigger portion. 🙂
The filo can be brushed with olive oil instead of butter to make it healthier. When I make spanakopita, I always use olive oil and I think it imparts that true Greek flavor to the pita.
My mom sometimes uses olive oil instead of butter, too. 🙂
Having a hard time visualizing how the phyllo is placed in dish. Is the overlap on the 9” side?
There is no wrong to do it. I lay the phyllo dough on a cutting board and cut the pile in half lengthwise because the sheets I buy are rather big. Then I lay each phyllo sheet into the pan, lengthwise. There is usually a little extra that are sticking up on the ends (short sides of the dish), which I fold down onto spinach filling. I hope that helps.
Yes, thank you. I would have actually done it wrong with the excess going to the long side of the dish. Can’t wait to try this.