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Recipe Swap: Spanikopita

I don't know which swap style I like more: the themed ones or the Secret Recipe Club ones where I'm assigned a blog and can choose any recipe I want. I'm really glad our swap does both!

My assigned blog was I Was Born to Cook. I was initially apprehensive, as I saw a lot of Mediterranean and Greek style recipes. I try my hardest not to be a picky eater, but I just don't do olives, and I cannot eat most nuts. However, after spending an evening reading through her recipes, I stopped after noting the names of five that sounded good (and I only made it halfway through her blog). I asked the Mister which of the five he preferred. He wanted the Braised Short Ribs. I wanted the Caramel French Toast. Each of us picked the Spanikopita as our second choice, so that's what I made.

I always thought Spanikopita sounded delicious — spinach is my favorite green vegetable. But, being a Greek dish, I assumed it had nuts in it. I was pleasantly surprised when I recently learned it did not. I tasted it and loved it. I made Melissa's recipe exactly as written. Hers came from an old Greek cookbook, and why mess with the experts?

It was excellent, well worth the time and labor it takes to make it. The dish is very versatile: cut it into small triangles to serve as an appetizer, or a large diamond shape to serve on its own, or smaller diamonds to serve with a simple Greek salad, or as a side to a main entrée. Once baked and cut, the pieces can be individually frozen for later snacking. 

Spanikopita (Spinach Pie)
From I Was Born to Cook

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs fresh spinach
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • ½ cup (about 3 stalks) scallions, chopped
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, divided (plus more, if needed)
  • ½ cup fresh dill, chopped
  • ½ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 ounces evaporated milk
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 16 sheets phyllo pastry
  • ½ pound feta cheese, crumbled

Directions

  1. Fill the sink with cold water. Drop one pound of spinach at a time into the water, and wash the leaves. Pick up a handful at a time, shake out as much excess water as possible, and using scissors, cut into small pieces. Place in a very large bowl. Repeat with remaining spinach. Season with salt and toss. Take a handful and squeeze out as much water as possible, and place in a second large bowl. (See Note 1 below)
  2. In a large stock pot, melt one stick of butter. Sauté the onion until soft and translucent, then add scallions and cook until wilted. Add the spinach and stir until color gets lighter. Stir in dill and parsley, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover the pot and cook until all the water is absorbed. 
  3. Remove pot from heat and place spinach mixture in a bowl. Immediately stir in milk. Add the beaten eggs to the crumbled cheese, then stir into spinach mixture until evenly distributed. 
  4. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Melt the remaining stick of butter. Line a 9x13 baking dish with 8 sheets of phyllo, brushing each layer with the melted butter before topping with the next sheet (see Note 2 below). Pour in the spinach mixture, and spread evenly. Top with remaining sheets of phyllo, again brushing each layer with melted butter before topping with the next sheet. Brush top sheet with additional melted butter. 
  5. Score the top layer into diamonds or triangles. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes. Let stand 20 minutes before cutting and serving. 

Notes

  1. Because I didn't have one bowl large enough to hold all three pounds of spinach, I washed, salted and squeezed one pound at a time, then repeated with the second and third pounds. 
  2. Click here for tips on working with phyllo pastry. 

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Branny

Tuesday 10th of April 2012

I use an ina garten recipe and it does call for pine nuts. Pine nuts are so expensive, though, it is good to know that if I skip them the result will still be delicious. I also add a smidge of freshly ground nutmeg to my filling. yum!

The Home Cook

Thursday 29th of March 2012

What a great choice! I love spanikopita and I'm impressed that you took the time to tackle this.

Thanks for being part of the recipe swaps! And I'm really happy you like both styles. :)

Melissa @IWasBornToCook

Friday 23rd of March 2012

I LOVE this choice! Glad you both enjoyed it. It's been a family favorite for a long, long time :)

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