Sunday, 11 May 2014

Spinach and Feta Filo Pie - Spanakotiropita / Spanakopita (includes Thermomix method)

A traditional Greek pie cooked in filo pastry, packed full of flavour.

The beauty of spanakotiropita (aka spanakopita) lies within the lightness of the filo pastry, and the depth of flavour from the feta cheese and herbs within the spinach filling. A very tasty pie whether you're vegetarian or not!

Delicious as a main course, maybe served with my Greek village salad, or cut into smaller squares and served as part of a mezze.

Serves four as a main course (from 302 calories), or can be served cut into 16 pieces to serve as part of a mezze.

Calories, for those who are counting - if using lighter Greek salad cheese and omitting the butter, 302 calories per main serving (one quarter of the pie); or if serving as part of a mezze and cutting into sixteen, 76 calories per portion. If using full fat feta and butter, 375 calories per quarter (as a main - shown in the photo cut into two pieces), or 94 calories per square if cutting into 16.

  • Half of a 270g pack of filo pastry [358]
  • 400g baby/young leaf spinach [120]
  • 4 spring onions (scallions) [14]
  • Handful each of dill (10g) and flat leaf parsley (15g) [4 + 5]
  • 2 medium (58g) free range eggs [175]
  • 2 tbsp milk (semi-skimmed) [15]
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper [1]
  • Freshly grated nutmeg [1]
  • 15g butter, melted (optional) [111]
  • 200g barrel-aged feta cheese (or use lighter Greek salad cheese if you want to cut the calories - vegetarian feta available) [560 / 380]
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (not extra virgin) [135]

Remove the feta pastry from the fridge, as per instructions before use and pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4 / 180 C (160C fan) / 350F.

Blanch the spinach leaves in boiling water for one minute then drain and leave until cool enough to handle. Squeeze all of the excess liquid out and then chop.

Finely chop the herbs and spring onions (Thermomix: cut the spring onions into 1 inch lengths first, then drop onto running blades, Speed 8, along with the herbs and scrape down) and add to a large bowl (keep in TM bowl).

Add the chopped spinach, eggs (beat with a fork in a bowl, first, unless using a Thermomix), milk, salt and pepper to taste (I add 1/4 tsp of each, as feta is already salty), a grating of nutmeg, and lastly the melted butter, and stir until thoroughly combined (TM Speed 4 / 15 seconds).

Crumble the feta by hand into the spinach mixture, and stir in with a spatula (or spoon - obviously don't use metal utensils in the TM) to keep the texture of the crumbled feta intact.

Next, take the filo pastry out. The (pyrex glass) dish I used was approximately 7 x 9 inches, although you could also use a round dish. The filo pastry I used was from ASDA (270g pack, 6 sheets), and I used 3 sheets, cut through into 1/3 and 2/3 sized pieces, with the larger pieces for the base (and the smaller remainder for the top). Take half of the pack, and then wrap up any sheets you don't need and refrigerate or freeze immediately as it dries out very quickly.

Put the tablespoon of olive oil in a small dish or even mug, and oil each sheet of filo pastry very lightly as you assemble the dish. 1 tbsp is plenty for this quantity of filo. Firstly, put three sheets into the base of your dish (the large 2/3 pieces, if you're using the same filo I used, and the same sized dish), oiling one side of each as you go, and placing them oil side down. Don't worry about the odd crease and bend, or whether each sheet is exactly on top of the one underneat - just make sure the base is covered, and you have enough going up the sides to fold back and just cover the top of the pie.

If you're using a round dish, then when you line it, put each (square) pastry sheet a third turn around so they overlap evenly.

Then give the filling a quick stir, and spread it evenly over the base. Top with the three remaining portions of filo pastry, oiling each one lightly and placing oil side up.
Neatly fold in the edges, so that they cover the filo pastry on top of the pie, then with a sharp knife score into portions (I scored mine into eight as I was serving with other dishes).

Sprinkle with a little water, then place into the middle of the oven for approximately one hour, until golden on top and cooked through checking near the end, and turning the dish around if necessary.

Very easy to remove from the dish in slices, intact!

If you're having a bit of a mezze, why not try my baked feta in tomato and oregano sauce, it's delicious served hot and dippable with crusty bread!

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