“Spanakopita” is one of the most famous vegetarian Greek dishes! It literally means spinach pie and traditionally it is prepared with a spinach and feta cheese filling on crispy and delicious homemade phyllo dough.
Greeks love pies! Lots of vegetarian options like leeks pie, mushrooms pie, peppers pie, cheese pie or even non-vegetarian like meat pie or chicken pie. All of them are delicious and you can make them with the same phyllo dough recipe that we will discuss today in the post.
Spanakopita can be served as a breakfast, lunch along with some veggies or snack with some fruits. It is very versatile! Panos had it as lunch served with avocado, cucumbers and tomatoes on his favorite eco-friendly bamboo plate. On the next day, I packed a piece on his snack-box along with cucumbers, kiwi and berries. I love using my cute veggie cutters to make his meals more special and playful. This makes him so happy!
Growing up, spanakopita was a special treat when I was visiting my grandmother. My grandparents live in a small village up in the mountains in Greece. We had to travel one hour to visit them every Sunday and my grandma always had cooked delicious food ready for us. We used to make spanakopita together. It was our bonding time. My childhood is full of memories of rolling the fillo dough, flour flights, baking on a wood oven etc. I curry those memories through my life. This is the reason that I love cooking with Panos. We usually make a mess but it is a great bonding time and it builds a healthy relationship with food. So keep your children in the kitchen and lets make some spanakopita.
What you will need
Spanakopita is a relatively easy recipe using a handful of ingredients. I love making my own phyllo dough using my grandmother’s recipe. However if you feel that this is too much work then skip this step and use a store bought puff pastry* or phyllo. Just make sure that the ingredients are clean as usually they contain a lot of preservatives, refined sugar and low quality oils.
My grand mother makes this recipe with pretty much any green leafy vegetables that she finds available in her garden. Her spanakopita is never the same but it is always so good!
For the phyllo dough
- All purpose flour. In case you don’t have you can substitute with bread flour. I had made this recipe with whole wheat flour. It was a bit more difficult to roll the dough but still it was doable so if you want you can substitute with whole wheat flour. I haven’t tried with any alternative flours like oats, almond, coconut etc and I would not recommended.
- Extra virgin olive oil.
- Apple cider vinegar. You could use white wine or red wine vinegar instead.
- Warm water.
- Sea salt.
For the filling
- Green leafy vegetables. Traditionally, spanakopita is made with spinach. I like to use a combination of baby spinach, baby kale and baby chard to get some variety in our diet. You can use any combination of those or just baby spinach. Up to you! If you like another great vegetarian recipe with green leafy vegetables you should try “spanakorizo“, another traditional Greek recipe which Panos loves.
- Feta cheese. Do not substitute with any other cheese. It’s perfectly salty so you dont even need to add any sea salt.
- Leeks and green onions. Those vegetables add a sweet flavor on the final dish.
- Herbs. Fresh mint, flat parsley and dill add a lot of aroma in this recipe so do not skip.
- Egg to bind the filling.
- Extra virgin olive oil to saute the vegetables.
How to make the perfect phyllo dough
- The temperature of the water is important. If the water is cold then it will be much more difficult to knead and roll the dough, so be sure that you use lukewarm water.
- Kneading the dough is necessary. You can either do it by hand or use a stand mixer. I love doing this by hand as Panos usually “helps” me with kneading. Be sure that you knead for at least 5 minute. This will make your life easier when you roll out the dough.
- Set aside the dough to rest for at least 20 minutes before rolling. Resting helps the dough to be softer and easier to roll.
- With this recipe you will make two phyllo sheets. One for the bottom and one for the top of the pie. When you split the dough in two pieces make sure that one is smaller and the other one is bigger. This way you will use the slightly bigger for the bottom and the sides of the pan and the smaller one on the top.
- Usually I keep a small portion of the dough and make some cutouts using my veggie cutters. This is a nice way to add a playful touch to your pie and you can always ask your kids to help you with this part!
How to store
When spanakopita is ready, let it cool down and cut in pieces. You can store them in an air tight container for up to two days in the fridge or in a freezer bag up to 3 months in the freezer. Just make sure that you freeze the pieces flat so it will be easy to take just one piece out at the time. Usually I prepare some extra and I freeze to make sure that I have a quick snack for Panos to take at school.
Spanakopita (Spinach and feta cheese pie)Course: Snacks, Breakfast, DinnerDifficulty: Medium
20 – 25pieces
- Phyllo dough
3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
A pinch of see salt
Lukewarm water (around 1 cup depending how absorbent the flour is)
Egg wash (1 egg beaten with water) for shine
1 tsp bread crumbs (optional)
2 pounds (0.91 kilograms) green leafy vegetables, destemed, washed and chopped in big pieces. No need to chop if you use baby variety.
2 leeks sliced
6 green onions sliced
3 tbsp flat parsley finely chopped
3 tbsp mint finely chopped
2 tbsp dill finely chopped
3/4 pound (1.81 kilograms) feta cheese crumbled in big pieces
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
pepper to taste
- How to prepare the dough
- In a mixing bowl, add the flour, salt, olive oil and vinegar and stir
- Make a hole in the middle of the mixture and slowly add the water
- Start mixing with your fingers till you have a well formed dough
- Knead the dough at least 5 minutes or till it is elastic and soft
- Cover the dough with plastic wrap and set it aside in your counter to rest for 20 minutes
- How to prepare the filling
- In a big pot, saute on the olive oil the sliced leeks and green onions till translucent
- Add the green leafy greens and saute till wilted
- Strain the mixture and add it on a mixing bowl
- Add the egg, the herbs (mint, parsley, dill), the crumbled feta cheese and pepper
- Stir and set aside
- Assemble the pie and bake
- Oil a round sheet tray with 14 inches (35.56 centimetres) diameter and sprinkle the bread crumbs
- Cut the dough in two small balls, one slightly bigger than the other
- On a working surface sprinkle some flour and roll out the big dough ball to a thin circle
- If the dough is too sticky, sprinkle some more flour and continue rolling out
- You have to roll out round with 15 inches (38.1 centimetres) diameter
- Transfer the phyllo into the sheet tray
- Spread the filling evenly
- Roll out the second dough ball to a round with 14 inches (35.56 centimetres) diameter
- Cover the filling with the phyllo
- Turn the edges over and seal the two phyllo sheets together
- Gently score the pie length wise with a sharp knife
- Brush the pie with the egg wash and place your cutouts
- Bake on a preheated oven at 375F (190.56 degrees Celsius) for 50-60 minutes until it is crispy
* Disclosure: this post may contain affiliate links, which means Panos Eats may receive a commission to help us run this site at no extra cost to you if you purchase something that we have recommended. While clicking these links won’t cost you anything!