I love Greek food even if most of the Greek restaurants here are a bit pricy! One of my favorites is Spanakopita, a spinach and cheese pie with very crispy, flaky exterior.
I’ve always wanted to make Spanakopita because it’s so crispy, cheesy, tangy and delicious! It intimidated me though because it seemed too technical for me. One of the other things that prevented me then was some of the ingredients required for the dish are too expensive here in Manila.
But after doing some research and testing though, I’m pretty glad I found a way to make a more budget-friendly alternative for the filling! And the taste is still wonderful. When it came out from the oven, I was so happy with the result.
One thing that I didn’t skimp on is the use of Filo pastry sheets. Those thin paper-like sheets help give the pie it’s texture and crunch. While both are flaky, Filo pastry is different from puff pastry sheets–Filo pastry is paper-thin and you can easily create plenty of layers with the sheets.
Most traditional recipes call for ricotta cheese and about 2-3 blocks of feta. Feta cheese. But for this dish, while I know it’s not traditional, I used a combination of Feta, Cream Cheese and Parmesan cheese because feta and ricotta are both a bit pricy! Then I tried to make up the tanginess that we might miss from the feta by adding some lemon zest and a bit of lemon juice. You can mix this by hand, but because of my nerve issues, I had to use a mixer (which is also a great idea if you have one).
Another thing that I did to make it a success was that I added some bread crumbs at the bottom of the baking dishes. This prevents the bottom layer from being soggy, a trick I learned from Dimitra’s Dishes.
For a beginner in baking, this dish is actually apparently very beginner friendly! So I’m encouraging you to do this at home. Follow my recipe and let me know how it turned out!
Spanakopita on a Budget
Prep Time: 20-30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
- 375 grams Fillo Pastry Sheets
- 5 cups of spinach leaves, chopped roughly
- 250 grams cream cheese
- 150 grams feta cheese
- 200 grams all-purpose cream
- 1 cup parmesan cheese
- ½ tsp lemon zest
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup of melted butter (or a combination of butter and olive oil)
- Preheat the oven to 400°F for 10 minutes.
- In a bowl, add the cream cheese, feta cheese, parmesan cheese, all-purpose cream, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
- Add the spinach and mix until it is combined well. You can also use a mixer with a wide paddle to make it easier.
- Brush all sides of the pan with some melted butter. Then add some bread crumbs at the bottom of the dish.
- Add one Filo sheet at the center of the pan.
- Then add 4 sheets for the second layer, with each sheet covering ¼ of the pan. Do not cut the overhanging sheets.
- Brush some butter on top and repeat the layering process 2 or 3 more times (depending on how big your pan)
- After the last layer, place the filling in the middle of the pan and spread evenly. Then fold each overhanging sheet over to cover the top of the pie. Brush each layer with butter.
- If you have extra filo pastry sheets, you can crumple and create patterns on top of the pie.
- Slice/score the pie into pieces before placing in the oven.
- Place the pan in the oven and bake for 45 minutes. If you have a bigger pan and a bigger oven, place the pan at the top rack of the oven. Then add an extra 15 minutes to cook the bottom by transferring it to the lowest rack of the oven.
- Serve while hot and enjoy!