If you have vegetarians in your family, you may be wondering what to cook for them at Christmas or other celebrations. This splendid pie, of spinach and cheese wrapped in filo pastry is one solution. The recipe comes from Greece originally, where it is called Spanokopita. Strictly speaking, it should be made with feta but cheddar works well and vegetarian cheese could be substituted. If your family can’t stand spinach, try making it with broccoli instead, although you will need to chop it finely and cook it a little longer.
Filo pastry comes in packets containing up to 12 thin sheets, which need careful handling if they are not to dry out and tear. It is best to cover the sheets with a cloth and remove them one by one as you use them.
This amount will feed 6-8 people.
- 1kg spinach, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 large garlic clove, crushed
- vegetable oil
- 350 g cheese (feta, cheddar or vegetarian alternative)
- 3 eggs
- 2 packets of filo pastry (250 g each)
- half a teaspoon nutmeg
- salt and pepper.
Fry the onion gently in oil until soft, then add the crushed garlic and cook for another minute or two. Add the spinach and nutmeg and cook gently until the spinach wilts. (You will need to allow more time if using frozen spinach.) Drain and allow to cool.
Beat the eggs and add the cheese, grated or crumbled according to type. Add the egg and cheese to the spinach and mix thoroughly.
Lay a sheet of filo pastry on a clean work surface and brush with butter. Once the sheet is ready, place it in a large, rectangular dish -say 40cm by 9cm. Repeat, overlapping the sheets so they line the dish. Use at least half the sheets but leave some to cover the top. Fill the pie dish with spinach and cheese stuffing. Then brush the remainder of the sheets of filo pastry with butter and lay them on top of the pie to form a cover, tucking them in as necessary. Brush the top with butter.
Bake in a medium oven (180°C) for half an hour and serve hot. Spanokopita can be served with salad, or with potatoes and green vegetables, depending on how many people you have to feed and how hungry they are.