Jill Strauss from Jillyana's Wood Fired Cooking School come's into the 207 kitchen to teach Rob Caldwell how to make the famous greek dish. She's got some learned secrets from her time in Greece and she shows us how to take the fear out of filo.
This may not be true to Grecian history, but some of her additions in this pie will be of great value to your next dinner party.
- 2 16 ounce packages fresh organic spinach, steamed for 3-4 minutes, cooled and drained
- 1/4 cup Greek olive oil
- 1 leek, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 5 medium scallions, white and pale-green parts only, sliced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- coarse sea salt
- Aleppo pepper (or ground pink peppercorns)
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 8 ounces feta, crumbled (I love the Israeli sheep's milk feta from Trader Joe's.)
- 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (or half Pecorino and half Parmesan)
- 1/3 cup chopped basil
- 1/3 cup chopped dill
- 1/3 cup chopped mint
- 1/3 cup chopped fennel fronds
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
- 6 14x18 inch sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed, room temp (preferably #7 phyllo dough made by Apollo)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Place spinach in the center of a clean towel, gather corners together and twist towel to wring excess liquid out of spinach. (It's good to get as much water out of the spinach as possible. Wet spinach will create soggy pie.) Transfer spinach to a large bowl and break up into small pieces.
- Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium and cook leek and onion stirring until just beginning to soften, 5-7 minutes. Add scallions and garlic and cook until vegetables are tender, 4-6 minutes more. Season lightly with salt. Scrape into bowl with spinach.
- Whisk egg and egg yolk, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or ground pink peppercorns. Add feta, Parmesan, basil, dill, fennel fronds, mint, parsley and lemon zest and mix until evenly distributed. (I tend to hold back a little on salt seasoning since Feta is salty.)
- Lightly brush bottom and sides of springform pan with butter. Remove phyllo from packaging and cover with damp kitchen towel to prevent drying out. Working quickly, brush butter on one side of one phyllo sheet. Transfer phyllo butter side up to prepared pan, covering bottom of pan. Gently press and tuck sides of sheet into bottom edges of pan. Fold and ripple phyllo as needed to cover bottom of pan. Repeat with one more phyllo sheet.
- Working quickly, brush melted butter on one side of another phyllo sheet. Transfer to pan and slightly off center so long side of dough comes up and over side of pan. (You'll have a lot of overhang. Don't worry.) Rotate pan slightly and repeat with another sheet so overhang covers another section of the pan. Continue with remaining two more sheets rotating pan so there is overhang around entire pan.
- Scrape spinach mixture into pan, pressing down gently and smoothing top. Gently fold phyllo overhang over spinach mixture and continue to press until phyllo goes just beneath rim of pan. Don't worry if phyllo breaks or tears.
- You want the phyllo to look draped over the top with lots of waves and folds. But I like to leave a circle of the topping uncovered.
- Brush melted butter over folded edges. Bake pie until phyllo is golden brown and slightly darker around the edges, 50-60 minutes. Place hot pan on rack and allow to cool for one hour. Unmold and serve.
- You will need a sturdy 9 inch spring form pan, a pastry brush, a damp cloth. Phyllo dough comes in different levels of thickness. This recipe calls for phyllo that is not to thin, not too thick. I use #7 Apollo Fillo.
- Make sure that once you open the phyllo dough, you cover it with a damp cloth and are ready to gently paint it with cool melted butter. Spanakopita is best served warm (an hour after it comes out of the oven). You can make it 1 day ahead and chill it. Reheat in 300 degree oven for 30 minutes.