Sunday, January 13, 2013

Koula's Spanakopita (spinach and cheese pie)

There's something about the combination of salty cheese, squishy spinach and crispy pastry that really starts the party for my tastebuds. It's so yum, and so Greek, and yay for me it's vegetarian!



Unlike my other attempts at preparing Greek pastry-based dishes, my efforts with spanakopita at home have been mildly successful. But mildly is not mind-blowingly. I'll leave that to the spanakopita expert, my aunt Koula.

Here is her recipe for a great big tray of spanakopita, fit for a tastebud party, or any party at all.



Koula's Spanakopita


Ingredients

1kg frozen chopped spinach
2 bunches of spring onions, finely chopped
4 leeks, finely chopped
200g feta cheese, crumbled
300g ricotta cheese, roughly chopped
80g parmesan cheese, grated
6 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons semolina
8 sheets of filo pastry
1 large sheet of puff pastry (to cover baking dish)
200g melted butter for brushing pastry

Method

Preheat fan-forced oven to 175 degrees celsius.

Slowly defrost and heat up the frozen spinach in a large pot with the lid on. You will probably need a larger pot than the one Koula used – she struggled to keep the mixture from overflowing once the other ingredients were added!

Meanwhile, in a separate pan fry the spring onions and leeks on low heat until softened. Add onion mixture to spinach and mix thoroughly. Remove from heat.



Combine the cheeses in a large bowl and mix well by cutting through cheeses with a spatula or fork. Add cheese mixture to spinach and onion mixture and mix thoroughly.




Add semolina to the mixture – this is to help absorb some of the liquid from the spinanch.



Add eggs and combine well.



Lay 8 sheets of filo pastry in a large baking dish, brushing with melted butter between each sheet.



Pour the entire spinach mixture over the filo pastry. If you are using the gigantic Greek filo sheets, do what Koula does and fold the pastry over the mixture so it all fits snuggly in the baking dish. If you are in Australia our filo pastry sheets are smaller and should fit the baking dish you are using without the need to fold the pastry.



Ensure the spinach mixture is evenly distributed in the dish, fold the pastry over if using the giant Greek filo sheets, then carefully lay a sheet of puff pastry over the top.





Cut the puff pastry to define the portions of spanakopita, then brush the pastry surface with an egg wash made up of one egg and a teaspoon of brandy. Koula says the brandy takes away the smell of the egg.

Bake in the oven for 1 hour.






Oh my god, this is so yum ... Thanks Koula!