What’s Up Hungry People
This week we’ve gone Greek!
My boyfriend, Nick, spent some time in Greece during his college days, so naturally, he was my go-to consultant for an authentic Greek dish. Our goal is to head to Greece together someday, but until then, I’m content with eating my way through it from the comfort of my own kitchen.
Nick was super helpful and pointed me towards spanakopita, a delightful spinach and cheese-filled pastry he devoured a lot while he was there. Armed with Nick’s first-hand experience, I rounded up my grocery list: spinach, eggs, ricotta cheese, Parmesan, green onions, garlic, onion, lemon, and—of course—the ever-so-delicate phyllo dough.
Here’s What You Need
- Phyllo dough: Provides the flaky pastry layers that encase the filling.
- Spinach: The hearty, leafy green that forms the main filling and adds a fresh, earthy flavor.
- Ricotta: Adds creaminess and richness to the filling.
- Yellow onion: Provides a savory base note and aromatic depth.
- Eggs: Bind the filling together and add structure.
- Garlic: Infuses the dish with a delightful aromatic flavor.
- Lemon juice: Adds a bright, citrusy kick to balance the richness.
- Fresh parsley: Brings a fresh herbaceous note and vibrant color.
- Olive oil: Used for sautéing and brushing the phyllo dough, adding a rich, savory flavor.
- Salt & pepper: Seasonings that enhance and balance the overall taste of the dish.
Kick things off by sautéing the onion, green onion, and garlic until you can’t resist the smell wafting through your kitchen—the garlic should be fragrant, and the onions will start turning translucent.
Trust me, anything loaded with this much garlic and onion is destined for greatness.
Tip: Get the onions going first since they take a bit longer to cook, then add in the garlic. You don’t want burnt garlic messing up your aromatic base.
As your onions work their magic, whisk together the eggs, ricotta cheese, salt, pepper, and a dash of lemon juice.
Why lemon juice, you ask? A little acidity brightens up the cheese mixture and gives it an extra pop of flavor. But, and it’s a big but, add the lemon juice last to avoid curdling the ricotta.
Tip: Consider using fresh lemon juice for that extra kick. The bottled stuff is fine in a pinch, but fresh is always best.
Once your onions are tender, it’s time for the spinach to make its appearance. Plop it into the same pan and gently stir with a wooden spoon.
You’ll see the spinach reduce dramatically in size, becoming about a fourth of its original volume. Once wilted, blend it with the onions and garlic. Set the mixture aside to cool for at least 5-10 minutes—no steam, please!
Why Cooling Matters: If your spinach mixture is too hot, it could end up cooking and scrambling the eggs in your cheese mixture. Patience is key here, even if the aroma is calling your name.
Bringing It Together
Combine the cooled spinach mix with the cheese and egg blend, stirring until everything is nicely incorporated. Make sure the spinach is evenly coated—it’s the hero of this dish, after all.
And now, for the big reveal: how to make that perfect, flaky spanakopita dough. Don’t stress, it’s easier than it sounds. Just take two sheets of phyllo, fold them in half lengthwise, and brush the top with a little olive oil. Then, spoon about three tablespoons of your filling onto the center of the phyllo.
Tip Alert: Keep your unused phyllo dough under a damp towel to stop it from drying out. It’s the high-maintenance starlet of the pastry world.
The Perfect Fold
Fold the top left corner over your filling, tucking it in as you go. Then, fold the right corner, forming a neat triangle. Trust me, it’s easier done than said. Keep going with this left-over-right motion until you have a lovely triangular pocket. Seal those edges with some extra olive oil for good measure.
If you need some extra help, here’s the video I watched on how to create this simple fold.
Continue this motion, left-over-right, until a triangular pocket takes shape. Seal the edges with some extra olive oil.
Final Touches and Baking
Brush your little triangles with a final sweep of olive oil and double-check those edges. You don’t want any of that lush spinach mixture making a run for it.
Place them on a baking sheet and pop them in the oven until they turn a beautiful shade of golden brown.
Additional Tips and Troubleshooting:
- Handling Phyllo Dough: Phyllo can be delicate; keep unused sheets covered with a damp towel to prevent drying out.
- Spinach Moisture: If using frozen spinach, thaw and squeeze out excess moisture to prevent a watery filling.
- Cheese Variation: Experiment with feta cheese for an extra tangy twist in the filling.
- Folding Phyllo: If you’re new to folding phyllo, watch a tutorial video for visual guidance.
- Sealing Edges: Ensure edges are properly sealed to prevent filling from leaking during baking.
- Even Brushing: When brushing phyllo with olive oil, do it evenly to achieve a golden, crispy finish.
- Golden Brown Finish: Keep an eye on the spanakopita while baking to prevent over-browning; ovens may vary.
- Serving Options: Serve as an appetizer, side dish, or even a light main course with a fresh salad.
- Make-Ahead: Prepare the filling in advance to save time when assembling.
- Freezing: Spanakopita can be frozen before baking; just bake from frozen, adding a few extra minutes.
- Room Temperature: Allow spanakopita to cool slightly before serving to let the flavors meld.
- Reheating: To reheat, place in a 350°F oven for a few minutes to regain crispiness.
I couldn’t be happier with how these spanakopita triangles turned out. Nick was singing praises, and that’s a win in my book. Even if you’ve never set foot in Greece, this recipe brings a little piece of it right into your kitchen.
And just like that, we’ve whipped up a Greek classic that’s sure to become a household favorite. Whether you’re a seasoned kitchen warrior or a newbie with a spatula, this spanakopita recipe has a spot on your dining table. Nick’s still talking about it, and that’s the sign of a dish done right.
Keep those taste buds curious, Hungry People—there’s plenty more where this came from!
- woodening cutting boards
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet and add the onions, green onion, and garlic.
- While the onions and garlic cook, whisk together the ricotta and Parmesan cheese with the eggs. Add the lemon juice last and stir to combine.
- When the onions are translucent and the garlic is fragrant, add the spinach. Use a wooden spoon to stir the spinach until it has wilted to about a fourth of the original size. Season with salt and pepper, then remove from the heat and let cool for five to ten minutes, or until no longer steaming on top.
- Stir the spinach mixture into the egg and cheese mixture. Fold the spinach into the cheese until it is completely covered.
- Roll out the phyllo dough, keeping what is not being used covered with a damp towel. Take two sheets of dough and lay them on top of each other. Brush with olive oil to the edges.
- Fold the phyllo in half and place 3-4 tablespoons of filling in the top center. Fold the dough, corner over filling, alternating sides, until a triangle has taken shape. Fold in the edges as you work then brush the outside with olive oil.
- Arrange the spanakopita on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the spanakopita is golden brown.
- Serve warm or at room temperature. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days. Enjoy!