Spanakopita (aka Greek spinach and feta filo pies) are found in every bakery in Greece and are a staple of Greek cuisine. With their light golden crispy filo pastry and that rich and creamy filling of salty feta and herb-packed spinach, they are a tasty treat perfect for any time of day.
Having been lucky enough to live in Crete for three years I must say I ate more than my fair share of spanakopita and practically kept the village bakery in business singlehanded.
This may have done nothing for my waistline but boy did those spinach and feta filo pies taste great.
So what is spanakopita?
Spanakopita (which translates as spinach pie) is either made in a large tray and cut into squares or made into these fun triangular-shaped spinach pies which are easy to carry about and popular as a snack in Greece to eat on the go.
The squares of spanakopita are often served as part of a mezze or as a side dish with something like lamb or chicken. You’ll find this spinach and feta pie on every home table in Greece, it’s a classic.
- Filo (or philo) pastry is the wrapper for these spanakopita.
- Spinach – I’ve used fresh spinach here, the whole thing including the stems.
- Herbs – my mix of herbs is what my neighghbour Poppy in Agia Galini used for her spinach pies – dill, mint and parsley.
- Feta. That classic staple of Greek cooking – go for good quality feta, you will taste the difference I promise you.
- Nutmeg adds a wonderful flavour to your spanakopita and is used in many Greek dishes.
- Butter – with filo pastry you need butter to create those wonderful flaky layers.
First, you want to wilt that spinach. Simply put it in a pan with a little olive oil and heat for barely three minutes till the spinach has wilted down. Remove it from the pan and once cool enough to handle squeeze the spinach to remove as much water as possible. Now chop up the spinach.
Chop up the herbs nice and finely with a sharp knife and then put them in a bowl along with the spinach and grated nutmeg and some seasoning. Crumble in the feta and add some pepper. You shouldn’t need salt as feta is a salty cheese in the first place.
Working with filo/philo pastry
Unroll the pastry and cut it lengthwise into three strips. Then take the first three strips of pastry and cover the remaining pastry with a damp tea towel.
Have your melted butter ready and divide up the sheets of filo and spread the bottom one with butter, lay on the second, butter that and add the thirst layer of filo pastry.
Now put a tablespoonful of the spinach mixture into the bottom right corner of the pastry and fold it over in a triangle shape. Keep folding the filo pastry over right to left, left to right until it is all used up and you end up with a little triangular filo pastry pie.
Do the same thing with the remaining pastry making all your spanakopita pies.
Place the spinach and feta filo pies on a baking tray and brush the tops with melted butter and sprinkle on some nigella seeds or black or white sesame seeds. The seeds are purely optional and not part of the traditional spanakopita recipe but for me, they add a little extra to this simple pie.
Bake for approximately 25 minutes till golden.
These little spanakopita are perfect as a snack at any time and can be served either warm or cold.
Or you can serve spanakopita as a side to roast lamb etc.
Your spinach and feta filo pies will keep for up to 3 days. You can also freeze them in a freezer-proof container for up to 3 months. Defrost thoroughly and warm the spanakopita in the oven before serving.
Looking for more delicious Greek recipes to try? Then check these out before you go;
Or check out my entire Greek section for more exciting recipes.
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Spanakopita (Greek spinach and feta filo pies)
- 100 g spinach
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 100 g feta crumbled
- 1 tbsp dill chopped
- 1 tbsp mint chopped
- 1 tbsp parsley chopped
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg grated
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 200 g filo pastry 1 packet
- 50 g butter melted
- 1 tbsp nigella seeds or sesame seeds (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 180C and look out a baking sheet
- Heat the oil in a pan and wilt the spinach for about 3 minutes, when cool enough to handle squeeze out the liquid and chop the spinach
- Finely chop the herbs and mix these in a bowl with the spinach, crumbled feta, nutmeg and pepper
- Unroll the filo pastry and cut into three long strips, take the top 3 strips and lay out the first and paint with melted butter, add second layer and butter again then add 3rd layer of filo
- Place a tbsp of the spinach mixture in the bottom right corner of the buttered filo and fold over diagonally into a triangle then keep folding till you use up the strip of pastry. Make the remaining pies in the same way
- Place the pies on a baking tray and brush with melted butter and sprinkle with the seeds if you want to and bake for approx 25 minutes till golden