March 15, 2014

σπανακόπιτα || authentic spañakopita (birthday dinner pt. 1)

First of all, thank you for all the kind birthday wishes on Friday.  We were blessed with *gasp* warmish weather, and a lovely warmish breeze that I like to think just might be the beginning of spring.  Erin and Aemelia braved our treacherous Pothole Kingdom of a road, and came over in the evening to eat and chat and eat more and watch Julie & Julia.  :)

And while we're talking friends, please keep one of them in your thoughts and prayers - she wasn't able to make it, because she is recovering from knee surgery.  (Thank you!!)

And now, for the birthday dinner, part uno.

Mi padre's work puts him in contact with a multitude of people, and one of those people is an older Greek lady, whom we'll call Basia, a terrific cook, who lived with her son.  Basia's son hired my father to remodel one of the rooms in their house, and, of course, being a mother, she fed them often.  One day on the job, she made the menfolk spanakopita, a recipe she brought with her when she immigrated to America.  My dad, in turn, came home raving about how wonderful it was, and how we needed to visit Basia so she could teach us how to make it.

We willingly obliged, and spent an entire afternoon at Basia’s house, going through the recipe, and learning how to make her spanakopita perfectly.

It has since become quite popular in our house, especially wonderful for parties as finger food, and as an extra vegetable with a larger meal.


5-6 eggs
2 (10 oz) packages frozen chopped spinach
12 oz large curd cottage cheese
2-3 heaping spoons sour cream
About 1 cup canola oil
1 package 14 x 18 inch fillo dough
Feta cheese

A silicon brush will also be helpful for parts of this recipe, as will plastic gloves (preferably Latex-free), if you don't want your hands to turn green from the spinach.  And finally, a pizza cutter, the smaller the better - but not tiny.


Preheat the oven to 450 F.

First, we'll make the filling.

Thaw the frozen chopped spinach, and mold it into little balls, one at a time, squeezing out most of the juice, but "not hard enough to squeeze out it's soul."

Unquote Basia.

Feel free to remove your gloves at this time, if you chose to wear them.  You won't be needing them again.

via.  (With all the running around, I didn't have a chance to snap pictures of every step.)
Place them in your mixing bowl, and add the eggs, cottage cheese, and sour cream.

That was the easier part.  Working with the paper-thin fill dough will take some precision, but not to worry.  You'll get the hang of it after the first few sheets.

Pour your canola oil into an easily accessible container that the tip of your silicone brush will fit in, like a wide mouth measuring cup, or a small bowl.  I usually put around 4 cups in my measuring cup just to have the depth, but that part is optional.

Using the brush, “paint” the bottom of your 13 by 18 inch baking sheet with oil, but be sure not to use too much.  Line the bottom of the pan with 6 to 7 sheets of fillo dough, dribbling oil (not painting this time) over the sheets, apart from the first and last.  Depending on the size of dough you use, you may have to overlap the sheets, but that shouldn’t cause a ruckus.  Just make sure the sheets are as even on the pan as possible throughout.  

After the 7th layer of dough, spoon half of the spinach mixture onto the dough, and use a fork to spread it to the edges of the pan (a little less than we did.  Oops).

Evenly and lightly sprinkle a handful of feta over the mixture.

Add six to seven more sheets of dough, oiling each one as you lay it down, except for the first and last.

Spoon the rest of the spinach mixture onto the pan, and again, use a fork to spread it to the edges.

Sprinkle the mix with feta, and, one more time, add six to seven sheets of fillo dough, dribbling the oil on every sheet apart from the first.

Paint the last sheet with oil, but lightly enough so it's not swimming.

With a very sharp knife (sorry… our sharpest knife is huge), cut your spanakopita into pieces, whichever size you choose, although we’ve discovered smaller pieces are easier to handle, both for finger food and on a plate.  You’ll have to cut carefully and slowly.  Rather than slicing, push on the dough so it cuts cleanly without sliding the dough all around.  Cutting it before baking makes for easier separation after the spanakopita is done baking.  Make sure you cut all the way to the edge of the pan, and into the corners (if you're cutting diagonally).

Just to be sure the bottom layer of dough is cut thoroughly, I take a pizza cutter, and run over the cuts I've already made.

Pop that puppy in the oven 

Bake on 450 F for 15 minutes.

Turn the oven down to 400 F and bake for 15 more minutes.

Turn the oven to 300 F and bake until it's as brown and beautiful as you prefer.

Now isn't that beautiful!?

If there happens to be any left over, don't put it in the fridge, because it will get soggy.  You can either leave it in a pan with a piece of parchment paper over it, or, when it is completely cooled, put it in a covered container.

We served Basia's spanakopita with broiled salmon and a fruit bowl, special recipes to come soon. ;)

Bon appétit!

Pin it!

Follow or leave a comment somewhere, because I'd love to get to know you!
And don't forget... if you try a recipe you find here, come back and let me know how it turned out!


  1. Ahh, that looks absolutely delicious!!

  2. wow .. awesome of Basia to share the recipe.

  3. Yummy! My mom is half Greek, and this recipe too is one we have always loved growing up when she made it:)



No anonymous comments, please.