Spanakópitta

Melanie Acevedo

A light-bodied, vivacious white pairs beautifully with the abundance of herbs in this dish.

In springtime, the hills of Greece are covered with wild greens and herbs, including wild fennel, sorrel, lemon balm, poppy leaves, and mint, which are gathered and baked into pies. Diane Kochilas, author of The Greek Vegetarian (St. Martin's Press, 1996), shared this Vergiris family recipe with us. It is a welcome variation that adds rice and mixed greens, and is baked in a round cake pan. If you have more than eight guests, feel free to cut the pie into smaller pieces.

Spanakópitta
This family recipe for the traditional Greek spinach pie offers a welcome variation with rice and mixed greens.
Yield: serves 8

Ingredients

  • 6 lb. fresh spinach (or combination of mixed greens and fresh herbs), trimmed
  • 4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large yellow onions, peeled and chopped
  • 2 bunches scallions, trimmed and chopped
  • 1⁄2 cups finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1⁄2 cups finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1⁄4 lb. feta, crumbled
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1⁄4 cups long-grain rice
  • 1⁄2 lb. frozen phyllo dough, thawed
  • 6 tbsp. butter, melted

Instructions

  1. Wash spinach in several changes of water, drain, then coarsely chop. Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches if necessary, add spinach, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted, 5–8 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Heat remaining oil in same skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and scallions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 15–20 minutes. Stir into spinach, then add dill, parsley, and feta. Season with salt and pepper and add rice. Mix well.
  3. Preheat oven to 350˚. Working quickly so that phyllo doesn't dry out, line a greased 12" cake pan with 10 sheets of phyllo, brushing each sheet with butter after you place it in the pan. Fan the sheets out towards the edge of the pan, making sure bottom is covered. Allow excess to hang over the sides. Spoon filling into pan. Drape remaining layers of phyllo over filling, one at a time, brushing each with butter. Brush top with butter, then neatly fold overhanging phyllo over the top, and brush with remaining butter. Bake until golden, about 1 hour. Cool for 30 minutes before serving.