Today I have a classic vegetarian pie recipe from Greece — spanakopita, a spinach and Feta cheese mix in an egg base baked in a filo (phyllo) pastry base.
You do not have to use spinach for this recipe, I have used swiss chard greens, pumpkin greens (in South Africa I used taro greens) as well as a range of wild greens (ramsons are particularly good). The only stipulation is that the greens can easily be wilted down before mixing with the pie ingredients.
Spanakopita (Greek Spinach Phyllo Pastry Pie)Serves: 12-16
Ingredients:500g (1 lb) frozen file (phyllo) pastry sheets, thawed
120ml (1/2 cup) extra-virgin olive oil
For the Filling:4 tbsp olive oil
900g (2 lbs) spinach, thoroughly washed and with stems removed
6 spring onions, washed and sliced into 6mm (1/4 in) lengths
1 leek (white and tender green part only), washed and cut into 6mm (1/4 in) lengths
1 medium red onion, finely chipped
50g fresh dill, minced
300g (2/3 lb) Feta cheese, crumbled
3 eggs, beaten
salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
Method:Begin with the filling. Heat the olive oil in a large pan and gently fry the onions and leek for about 3 minutes, or until just softened.
Stir in the spinach and continue cooking util the leaves have wilted and any excess liquid has evaporated away (about 8 minutes).
Take the pan of the heat and set aside to cool until the spinach can be handled. At this point finely chop the spinach.
Lightly grease a 30cm square baking dish with olive oil. Mix the dill and cheese with the spinach and season to taste with salt and freshly-ground black pepper. Pour in the eggs and mix thoroughly to combine.
Layer about 1/2 of the filo pastry in the base of the pan (allow the edges to hand over the sides of the dish. As you add each sheet of filo pastry brush liberally with the olive oil.
Place the spinach mixture in the baking dish then fold over the filo pastry overhand. Top with the remaining filo pastry, again brushing each sheet liberally with olive oil as you add it.
Use a sharp knife to score the upper layers of pastry into serving-sized squares (cut through the top layer of filo pastry and the filling, but do not cut the bottom layer of pastry).
Transfer to the centre of an oven pre-heated to 180ºC (375ºF) and bake for about 40 minutes, or until the filling is cooked through and the topping is nicely golden and crisp.
Remove from the oven and allow the pie to cool until just warm (it should never be served hot).
Cut into squares and serve.
For hundreds more Greek recipes, why not visit the Celtnet Greek Recipes and Greek Food Information page.