Thursday, June 2, 2011



Spanokopita or spinach pie is a Greek savory pastry with a filling of chopped spinach, feta cheese, eggs and seasoning.  The filling is wrapped or layered in phyllo pastry, either in a large pan from which individual servings are cut, or rolled into individual triangular servings.  It is mostly eaten as a snack in Greece.    In the US, spanokopita is available in the frozen foods section of most grocery stores.  If you’ve never tasted it, you are really missing out.

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Spanokopita is not hard to make at all.  If you’re afraid of phyllo dough, don’t be.  It’s extremely easy to work with and also is available in the frozen foods section of most grocery stores.  To get the authentic flavor of spanokopita, you’ll need fresh dill.  If you don’t have dill in your herb garden, pay for fresh dill from your grocery store.  There is no substitute here and it just won’t be the same without it. 

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Since beet greens and spinach are so similar in taste and texture, I decided to use my boatload of beet greens to make some of this delicious delicacy.  The bulk of my spanokopita went into – you guessed it – my freezer.  When I have a snack attack, I just take a few out and bake them.  They’re also delicious as a bread replacement for your lunch or dinner salad.  Sometimes for dinner I just have a salad with leftover chicken or fish and the spanokopita.  

Beet Green Spanokopita
Adapted from
Rating:  10 out of 10

3/4 lb. fresh beet greens or spinach, washed, drained
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1 Tbsp. fresh dill, minced
1 Tbsp. white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose)
4 oz. good-quality Feta cheese, crumbled
2 eggs
1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/2 pkg. phyllo dough, thawed overnight in fridge
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or Smart Balance buttery spread, melted

Heat oven to 350F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.   Chop the beet greens.
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Boil the greens in water to cover about 5 minutes, or till tender.  Drain well. 
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In large heavy skillet, saut√© the onion in oil over medium heat till soft, about 10-15 minutes.  Add greens  and cook till liquid is absorbed, about another 15-20 minutes, stirring as needed.  Remove from heat and cool.  Add dill, flour, feta, eggs, salt and pepper and mix well with spoon or spatula.

Open 1/2 package of phyllo dough and spread it out on a sheet of wax paper or plastic wrap.  Cover with a second sheet of wax paper or plastic wrap.  Top it with a dampened clean kitchen towel.  Lay out a large cutting board so that the short side faces you.  Take one sheet of phyllo and lay it on the board.  Lightly spread melted butter over entire sheet.  Top with a second sheet of phyllo dough.  Press together.   Cut phyllo into 3 long equal strips.  Each strip will be approximately 3” wide.  (As you work with the phyllo remember to keep covering it to keep it from drying out.)

Place a heaping tablespoon of filling at the end of each strip. 
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The photo below shows the three strips, each filled.  The strip on the left is folded over once to the left.  The strip in the middle is then folded up.  The strip on the right is folded to the right and the next fold will be up.   Just keep repeating this pattern, keeping the dough straight till you get to the end of each strip.  Easy peasy.  You are folding the dough like a flag.
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Repeat the process with the remaining dough.  As you fill and roll the strips, lay them on a baking sheet lined with parchment. 
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Brush them with the remaining butter.  Bake them 40-45 minutes at 350F, or till golden brown and flaky.  Try not to eat them right away, as you may burn your mouth.  They’re excellent warm or room temperature and freeze beautifully.  Yield:  27 triangles


Lisa@Pickles and Cheese said...

Thank you Judy! This was such a great tutorial. I appreciate the details and the photos. I think I can tackle this now. Cant' wait to make these!!

Judy said...

Lisa, You are welcome. Please let me know how they turn out for you.

teresa said...

mmm, this sounds and looks just beautiful!

Aggie said...

I have to admit I'm afraid of phyllo dough. Had one bad experience, but I think I learned from it. I just saw somewhere today making spanokopita with dandelion greens, love what you did here! looks so good! wish I was snacking on some while drinking my wine :)

Coleen said...

What a fantastic recipe. I can see these as a fantastic buffet addition.

Comfy Cook said...

Your tutorial just might me take on phyllo. The photos are superior. Thanks.