Our Light & Easy Spanakopita (Greek Spinach Pie) is a rich, savory pastry stuffed with spinach, onions, feta, lemon, and herbs, all wrapped up in layers of buttery phyllo dough.
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Spanakopita (or Greek Spinach Pie) is easily on one of our favorite all-around meals. You can dress it up and serve it warm for dining in, slice and serve for an easy lunch, or eat it cold for a fast meal on the go.
Traditional spanakopita, as you may know, is usually high in fat, and often very heavy as well. However, after making just a few simple changes, I was able to reduce the fat in this Light & Easy Spanakopita recipe to half that of my original recipe. The outcome is a more tender, flakey pie, which Mr B and I much prefer over heavier versions.
Greek Spinach Pie can be served as a main course or as a hearty side. The lemony undertones go well with chicken or fish. (It probably pairs well with lamb too; but since I don’t eat lamb, I can’t say for sure.) Mr B and I find that a simple meal of spanakopita and table grapes is very satisfying.
Leftover spinach pie makes a delicious lunch or brunch entry; or try this breakfast favorite: slice cold spanakopita into Lincoln-log size pieces (about 1″x1″x4″), fry the resulting “spana-logs” in a skillet like sausages, and eat “spanakopita links” with eggs for breakfast!
Tips for Perfect Spanakopita
DRAIN THE SPINACH
Start with frozen spinach. (Yes, you can use fresh, but I have had much better results using frozen.)
First, defrost the spinach in the microwave, and allow it to cool until it is safe to handle. Then squeeze the crud out of it. I mean, really, really squeeze it. With your hands!
You can use a sieve or colander if you want, but you are going to have to get your hands wet at some point, so it will save you some time if you just dive right in. A pound of frozen spinach will squeeze down to about the size of an orange; somewhere between a baseball- and a softball-sized.
GO EASY ON THE BUTTER
This is one area where I was able to cut a lot of fat from my original recipe. You simply do not need to slather every layer in butter.
For each phyllo dough layer, dip the tip of a soft-bristle pastry brush into the melted butter 1/2″ or less: you don’t want to overload it. Brush each layer of phyllo dough with a few strokes of butter and then place the next layer.
Do not dip the brush in the butter more than once – you don’t need to completely cover each pastry sheet with butter. I usually do about two sheets with one brush dip, with the exception of the top sheet, which I paint lightly but completely.
BE A PHYLLO DOUGH BOSS
I used to be a little intimidated by phyllo dough. It is so fragile, and many recipes warn of its fragile nature and dramatically demand that you keep it covered at all times like a sickly newborn. Well, I am here to tell you, don’t worry! Phyllo dough is very forgiving, and my experience is that the results are always better than I imagine they will be when I put whatever I am making into the oven.
- Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. If you forget, you can put it out on the counter for four or five hours (or all day if you are at work), but the results won’t be as even. Keep the package closed while you are thawing it. Do not thaw in the microwave. You can keep unopened, thawed phyllo in the fridge for up to a month.
- Prepare all your ingredients and have EVERYTHING ready to go before you open the package!
- Make sure your hands are dry when you handle it.
- When you unroll it, cover it with wax paper or kitchen cloth. You can put a damp cloth over the wax paper or cloth, but don’t put it directly on the phyllo dough. (I never use a damp cloth, and everything always works out fine.)
- Work fast when it is uncovered, and don’t get distracted. (Phyllo dough doesn’t care about your phone.)
- If you tear a piece, just patch it – no worries. Unless it is the top sheet, no one will ever know.
- If you have sheets left over, just roll them back up and cover them tightly with plastic wrap. They will keep in the fridge for at least a week.
Light & Easy Spanakopita (Greek Spinach Pie)
- 2 Tbls vegetable oil
- 1 large onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 lb frozen spinach thawed & thoroughly drained
- 2 Tbs fresh dill chopped (or 1 Tbls. dried dill)
- 2 Tbs flour I use Wondra
- 8 oz feta cheese crumbled
- 1 medium lemon
- 4 eggs lightly beaten
- 1 tsp. Cavender's Greek Seasoning or Salt & Pepper, to taste
- 15 sheets phyllo dough
- Olive oil or butter flavored Pam
- 3 Tbs butter melted
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Heat vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Slowly cook and stir onions until softened. Add minced garlic and cook one minute more.
- Mix in the thoroughly drained spinach and dill. Sprinkle flour over the top and stir to combine. Cook approximately 5 minutes, or until most of the moisture has been absorbed. Remove from heat.
- Zest the lemon and add zest to the spinach mixture. Squeeze the juice from the zested lemon halves into the mixture as well.
- In a separate bowl, mix feta, eggs, and seasonings. Add the feta mixture to the warm spinach mixture and stir to combine.
- Spray the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Lay one sheet of phyllo dough flat in pan.
- Dip a pastry brush 1/2" or less into the melted butter: you don't want to overload it. Brush the single sheet of phyllo dough at the bottom of the baking dish with a little butter. Do not dip the brush in the butter more than once - you don't need to completely cover each pastry sheet with butter. (I can usually do at least two sheets with one brush dip.)
- Add another sheet and repeat until you have five sheets total.
- Spread 1/2 of spinach mixture over the buttered phyllo dough layers.
- Layer on 5 more sheets of phyllo, buttering lightly in between each layer. Spread on remaining spinach mixture.
- Top with the last 5 sheets of phyllo, buttering lightly between each layer.
- Bake in the preheated oven 45-50 minutes, or until golden brown.
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UPDATED 2019: Originally posted Jan 21, 2014