spanakopita

i.e. spinach pie.

‘Spanakopita’ is just the Greek for spinach pie. It sounds so much better in Greek, though.

Briefly wilt the spinach in a covered saucepan, with no added water. Squeeze as much water as possible from the spinach and then mix it with some crumbled feta, a bit of finely-chopped spring onion, some fresh dill and beaten egg. Then layer up half a dozen layers of filo pastry, oiling each one before putting on the next. Put the spinach filling on top, and cover it with another 6 or 7 layers of filo. Cut through the top half of the pie – i.e. the top half of the pastry – to form it into lots of little triangles or diamonds. Cook it for three-quarters of an hour at 180C.

It was the first time I’ve tried this. I used 500g of spinach, 125g of feta, 2 eggs, a supermarket pack of dill and one pack of frozen filo. If I was doing it again I’d use a bit less dill, but even so, I think it was a success. It’s easy to make – I’ve never used filo before and was surprised at how manageable I found it – and the finished thing looks really impressive, golden brown and crunchy. Smells (and tastes) good too. It would be a good choice of dish if you were entertaining vegetarians, I think.

It’s a pity, really, that despite a large Greek/Cypriot/Turkish population in the UK, their food has only penetrated the public awareness as far as kebabs, pita bread and lurid pink taramasalata. Oh, and houmous, I suppose. Anyway. I got the recipe from Claudia Roden’s ‘Tamarind and Saffron’ (though there are extremely similar versions all over the net), which is a book of Middle Eastern food – the Middle East in this case extending as far as Greece and Morocco. Her ‘The Book of Jewish Food’ is also fabulous, not just as a source for all the obvious things like bagels and gefilte fish, but recipes from Iran, India, Egypt. Lots of great filo-based pies in that one, too.