If Popeye the sailorman was Greek the only thing he would gulp down would be spinach pies, made by grand-ma Nia. And I wouldn’t blame him. There is crunch in the filo, there is succulence in finely chopped spinach leaves and wonderfully baked feta. I have a very soft spot for spinach pie, many Greeks do, but my affection for this pie has deep-deep roots.
Grand-ma Nia, with whom I spent many of my student years, had a ritual: pie every Friday! A huge tray to be shared with her sons that work the shop below her flat, and of course me that I was hanging around hers. The tray of spinach pie was always so huge, it could actually feed the neighbourhood, not just the family.
Spinach pie was the first dish I missed when I left for leafy UK, along with gran. It was also the first thing I attempted to make, with lots of cheats. I didn’t make my own pastry, I didn’t blanch the spinach patiently. I just armed myself with a baking tray (huge one), puff pastry and lots of washed spinach bags on which I poured lots of boiling water from the kettle – a novelty for me back then, I prefer my coffee cold. Of course back then there was always some ingredient missing, me being a clumsy, absent-minded cook. Not anymore, the large tray remains and this Spinach pie recipe is grand-ma Nia through and through:
For handmade filo pastry:
- 600 gr flour, sieved
- 1 ½ tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp vinegar
- ½ tsp salt
This will make you 7 handmade filo sheets and fit a 22 cm round tray. For detailed instructions check out the eggpie I made with Marianthe.
2 sheets of ready rolled puff pastry, for a rectangle 33 x 23 cm tray.
For the filling:
- 1 kg of spinach
- 1 onion
- 300 gr of feta cheese
- a small bunch of dill
- 2 eggs
- ½ tsp salt, try a bit of your feta, if it’s a strong barrel-aged feta you will not need salt at all
- pinch of pepper
- olive oil
What to do:
- Rinse your spinach thoroughly, blanch it, drain and let it cool. Once cooled squeeze any excess water out, chop coarsely and easy open the spinach leaves.
- Chop the onion finely, brown in a pan and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, place the prepared spinach, onions, chop in the dill, crumble the feta in small chunks and crack in the eggs.
- Mix well and you are ready to transfer into the pastry.
If you are using ready made pastry:
- Brush your baking tray with olive oil and place one sheet of puff pastry, layer the spinach mix evenly and place the second sheet of pastry on top.
- Brush with olive oil and cut through the pie to get your pieces before placing in the oven.
- Bake at 180oC in a preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes or until golden.
If you braved the home-made filo pastry:
- Keep 3 filo sheets for the bottom, one or two for the middle and 3 for the top.
- Brush your tray with olive oil, place the first sheet and repeat for the second.
- Once you place the third filo on, it doesn’t need any olive oil. Place more of your spinach pie mix towards the edges so that you don’t get thick and empty crust.
- It can have one or two middle layers, entirely up to you, just make sure you spread the filling evenly.
- Brush the top three filo sheets with olive oil.
- Cut through before baking at 180 oC in a preheated oven for 1 hour, or until golden.
Spinach pie is one of the tastiest and most traditional Greek pies. If you are around Athens check the closest bakery or drop me a line, you might be in luck and try one of mine!
With love from Athens!