In my restaurant days, one of many signature vegetarian dishes completely on the menu was Greek Spinach Pie, folded into giant triangles for every serving. On the time, it was an unique dish.
You might not anticipate finding phyllo, the paper-thin dough that’s the key ingredient, in simply any grocery store. The truth is, we normally picked up our provide of frozen dough on weekly runs to New York Metropolis, the closest mecca for “overseas” substances on the time.
Fortunately, spanakopita—with its tacky filling of spinach, feta, scallions, and herbs, all enclosed in layer upon layer of crisp, buttery phyllo—is now a mainstream dish, and the substances are straightforward to search out.
SPANAKOPITA PIE VS. TRIANGLES
There isn’t any onerous and quick rule about what type the pie (or pies) ought to take. You can also make small or giant triangles by folding the filling contained in the dough, or for household cooking, make it in a baking dish of any form or dimension. For this recipe, I exploit a 9×13-inch baking dish.
It’s handy to have available as a aspect dish for a big gathering, or as a essential course for a potluck or a vegetarian dinner. Serve it with a giant salad, or a mezze platter of hummus, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, and pita bread.
HOW TO PREPARE SPINACH FOR SPANAKOPITA
I’ve all the time used defrosted chopped spinach for spanakopita (no cooking needed).
On a latest mini survey of the a number of Center Japanese markets in my neighborhood, I grilled the women who make and promote squares of enormous pies of their small retailers. They unanimously concurred that chopped frozen spinach is the best way to go, so I’m passing on their knowledge to you, which confirmed my authentic instincts.
Spinach has numerous water content material that must be eliminated. Right here’s what to do:
- To defrost it, simply go away it out at room temperature, or should you’re brief on time, microwave it.
- You’ll then must squeeze out as a lot water as potential. You are able to do this together with your fingers over the sink, nevertheless it’s fairly messy. I desire to surround just a few giant handfuls in a dish towel and twist and squeeze out the ample liquid.
Decide a towel that you simply’re not too hooked up to; the inexperienced stain comes out within the wash, however simply in case it doesn’t, you don’t need to smash your favourite dish towel.
WHAT IS THE BEST CHEESE FOR SPANAKOPITA?
All feta shouldn’t be the identical, so select one that you simply like. Greek feta is made with at the least 70 p.c sheep’s milk; the remaining could possibly be goat’s or cow’s milk.
Feta is salty, dry, crumbly, and tangy, and it’s a wonderful alternative. My favourite is Bulgarian feta, made with sheep’s milk and a yogurt tradition. It’s tangy and creamy.
Frankly, any feta will do right here, however should you’ve by no means given it a lot of a thought earlier than, you’ll have some incentive to strive just a few totally different varieties. You’ll pay extra for crumbled feta, so why not purchase a block? It’s straightforward to crumble!
WHAT IS PHYLLO?
Though the little retailers in my neighborhood promote defrosted packages of phyllo, I believe it’s higher to purchase it frozen and defrost it your self.
To defrost phyllo, go away it in its package deal within the fridge the evening earlier than you’re going to make use of it. To forestall it from changing into dry and flaky, use the phyllo inside in 24 hours of defrosting it.
Phyllo is usually a little glitchy to work with. Every paper-thin sheet have to be brushed with melted butter and layered in a baking dish. About half the layers from the package deal go on the underside, the filling on prime of them, and the opposite half of the sheets on prime.
Just a few suggestions for working with phyllo:
- Place the stack of phyllo subsequent to the baking dish, and brush the highest layer with butter.
- If you might want to pause at any level, cowl the stack with a flippantly dampened dishtowel, however don’t go away it there too lengthy or the dough will dry out.
- Don’t fear an excessive amount of about just a few cracks right here and there. There’s going to be one other layer to cowl them!
- Most one-pound packages have round 18 sheets; if yours is totally different, simply use half of them on the underside and the opposite half on prime.
HOW TO TRIM AND SCORE PHYLLO
After getting accomplished layering the phyllo, you should have numerous messy-looking overhang across the pan. Trim it with a skinny, sharp knife, reducing off the surplus. You don’t must tuck or fold the phyllo. Simply give it a very good trim.
Lastly, minimize the dough into squares, piercing the highest layer of dough utterly with out reducing too deeply into the filling. This makes serving a lot simpler.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH SPANAKOPITA
Spanakopita is nice as both a essential or a aspect dish.
- As a essential course: Serve with rice, a giant inexperienced salad, or a chickpea salad.
- As a aspect dish: Serve it with roast hen or lamb kebabs.
TO MAKE AHEAD, STORE, AND FREEZE SPANAKOPITA
You can also make spanakopita casserole forward. Cowl it tightly with foil and refrigerate it for as much as 24 hours earlier than baking.
To freeze unbaked spanakopita, brush the highest layer with butter and wrap it effectively in plastic wrap after which in foil. It may be frozen for as much as three months. When able to cook dinner, unwrap the casserole, brush with extra butter, and place the frozen pie within the oven. It ought to take from 10 to 20 minutes longer to bake than a freshly made pie.
As soon as baked, leftover pie will maintain for 2 to 3 days within the fridge. Reheat it within the oven at 350ºF for 15 to 20 minutes, or till scorching all over.