Spanakopita

A yummy cheesy savoury pastry. One of my favourite things to eat. I made one in work recently and served it with a grilled aubergine salad.

This is a simple recipe but it’s not as quick as you might think. Mise en place is everything. You need a pot for the onions, another for blanching greens, a big bowl of ice water to refresh them, and damp tea towels and plenty of counter space for filo pastry.

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, stirring occasionally. When they have cooked down add salt, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg and cumin. Cook them for a long time so they become nicely caramelised. If you feel you have gone too far with any of these 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 it really is 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 top. It will probably break on you so don’t worry about making sure the sheets are whole, just patch them together so the whole surface is covered. Pour the green filling on top and now you can start layering the pastry on top. Add the remaining sheets of filo pastry, one at a time. Brush each one generously with butter before layering on the next. Don’t be shy here! More butter = more flavour. More flavour = more good.

Brush the top sheet with egg wash. I recommend slicing the spanakopita 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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