I make spanakopita based on my favorite recipe but altering it a little each time. One variation is to make it in my cast iron skillet. One day I had beet greens and carrot tops that needed to be used and figured “why not?” I cut back on the amount of spinach, added the other chopped greens and Castelvetrano olives, and a new version was born.
This recipe makes two large round spanakopita pies, or can be used to make triangles. If you have no need of the full amount, consider making one pie to serve now and triangles to freeze unbaked for later use.
- Extra-virgin olive oil or nonstick olive oil spray, as needed
- 1 liter (5 cups) chopped sweet onions
- 237 ml (1 cup) thinly sliced scallions, white and green parts separated by color
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 680 to 907 grams (1 1/2 to 2 pounds) fresh baby spinach, beet greens, and carrot tops*, chopped, or 3 boxes frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
- 237 ml (1 cup) chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 237 ml (1 cup) chopped fresh dill
- 2.5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) ground nutmeg
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 227 grams (8 ounces) good feta cheese, crumbled
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 296 ml (1 1/4 cup) ricotta cheese
- 177 ml (3/4 cup) chopped Castelvetrano olives
- 59 ml (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted
- 454 grams (1 pound) phyllo pastry sheets, defrosted**
*This recipe may be made with spinach only, or substitute a portion of the spinach with beet greens and/or carrot tops.
**To defrost quickly, place the unopened package on a room-temperature cast iron pan.
- If making pie-shaped spanakopita, lightly oil or spray two 25 cm (10 inch) cast iron skillets. If making triangles for appetizers, line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or other nonstick liner.
2. Heat 60 ml (4 tablespoons) olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onion and whites of the scallions until soft but not browned, around 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Stir in the spinach, adding handfuls at a time then beet greens and carrot tops, then parsley and dill, continuing to sauté until the greens are limp, and have dried out a bit, about 7-8 minutes. Add the nutmeg, 10 ml (2 teaspoons) of kosher salt and 5 ml (1 teaspoon) of black pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
3. In a large mixing bowl, use a spatula to gently combine the feta, beaten eggs and ricotta cheese. Add the cooled spinach mixture and the olives, gently fold all the ingredients together until fully combined.
4. Preheat oven to 177°C (350°F). In a small bowl, combine the melted butter and 59 ml (1/4 cup) olive oil. Open up one sleeve of the phyllo pastry, remove from package, unfold and cover with plastic wrap and a damp cloth. Continue to cover the pastry sheets each time you remove one as you prepare the pie.
5. To make pies: Layer the phyllo in the pan, one sheet at a time, allowing the edges to hang over the sides of the pan, brushing each phyllo sheet lightly but completely with the olive oil and butter mixture. Do not worry if the phyllo tears or does not look perfect. Use 8 sheets to make the bottom pastry layer, allowing excess pastry to drape over edge of pan. If making one huge pie, use the whole package for the bottom, layering so it drapes over the edges. Place the spinach mixture on top of the phyllo sheets and press down gently to smooth the filling. Fold the pastry draped over the edges inward, onto the spinach mixture. Repeat layering with 10 sheets of phyllo, oiling each sheet, and having them hang over the edge. Add a little extra olive oil to the bowl if you run out.
6. Using a teaspoon, gently tuck the pastry hanging over the edges of the pan down into the sides of the dish. Brush top with egg yolk mixed with a teaspoon of water. Using a sharp knife, score the upper layers of pastry into the size pieces you will want to serve once the pie is baked. This will make it much easier to cut when baked. Bake the pie in the middle of the oven for approximately 40-45 minutes until it is golden brown. Let it rest about 10 minutes before cutting into it. Repeat with the second pie.
7. To make triangles: Brush phyllo with oil, fold one long side in toward the middle, then the other, making a strip about 1/3 the original width. Put a large tablespoon of filling at one end, then fold into a triangle like a flag (see NOTE). Put on prepared cookie sheet, brush with egg and bake at 177°C (350°F) until golden, 15-20 minutes. Can be served warm or cold.
NOTE: Triangles may be frozen unbaked. Place on a baking sheet to freeze, then transfer to an airtight freezer bag. To bake, place frozen triangles on a baking sheet with a nonstick liner, and bake according to the directions above until golden.