Sunday, March 14, 2021

Spanakopita pie

 This is a sponsored post by Challenge butter, but the text and opinions are all mine. Thank you for supporting brands that make Kylee's Kitchen possible.

Spanakopita is usually described as spinach and feta pie, but it's typically baked in a large casserole dish or shaped into triangles. But in honor of Pie Day, I made it into an actual pie with phyllo dough serving as the crust to the spinach and feta filling.

I grew up making spanakopita with my mom and my Yiayia, so I want to share some tips I learned from them throughout the years.

Use clarified butter. The butter we buy from the grocery store consists of butterfat, milk solids, and water. Clarified butter is just the butterfat with everything else removed. Because the milk solids are removed, clarified butter has a higher smoking point. Phyllo dough is very delicate and using clarified butter helps it to brown evenly. I recommend using Challenge European Style Unsalted Butter. Challenge European butter is churned slower and longer, in the tradition of fine European butters, to produce a more flavorful butter with less moisture and higher butterfat than American butter (83% in European versus 80% in standard butters).

Use frozen spinach. I've used fresh spinach and frozen spinach, and I cannot taste a difference. Using frozen spinach is cheaper, and it eliminates the step of having to saute the spinach. You have to make sure to thaw the frozen spinach ahead of time and squeeze all of the water out of it. 

Use cottage cheese. Cottage cheese makes for a really creamy consistency. However, if you're very anti-cottage cheese or if you can't find it in the small curd variety, just omit it.

Use a damp towel and work quickly to prevent phyllo from drying out. Allow your phyllo dough to come to room temperature before working with it, but don't open the packaging until you're ready to work with it. Once you open the roll and expose it to the air, it will dry out. This is problematic because it will become brittle and break easily. Lightly dampen a tea towel and use it to cover up the phyllo dough you aren't currently using.

Spanakopita pie

Yield: 8 servings


For the clarified butter

For the spankopita pie
  • 18 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 3 bunches (about 6 ounces) green onions, white and green parts
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 6 ounces small curd cottage cheese
  • 4 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 3/4 cup parsley leaves, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Zest from 1 lemon (about 1 Tablespoon)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 large eggs
  • 20 sheets phyllo dough, thawed


For the clarified butter

  1. Melt butter in small saucepan over low heat. Don't stir!
  2. Skim off foamy milk solids that rose to the top.
  3. Carefully ladle golden butterfat into bowl, leaving behind residue of milky white solids that settled at bottom of pan.
  4. Keep clarified butter at room temperature throughout duration of spanakopita recipe. When finished, cover and store in refrigerator.
For the spanakopita

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. Drain and squeeze all excess water from spinach. This is very important! A potato ricer works really well for this task. 
  3. In a skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of your clarified butter over medium-low heat. Add green onions and garlic and cook until tender and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and combine with spinach in large bowl.
  4. Add feta, cottage cheese, Parmesan, parsley, dill, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Combine with spinach mixture and season to taste with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Stir in eggs. Set aside.
  5. Brush bottom and sides of 10-inch cast-iron skillet with clarified butter. 
  6. Lightly dampen dish towel. Unroll roll of phyllo dough and lay dish towel on top. Keep towel on top of unused phyllo while you work to prevent dough from drying out.
  7. Working quickly, remove one phyllo sheet from rest of stack and gently press in bottom and up sides of skillet. Lightly brush entire sheet with butter.
  8. Repeat with remaining phyllo sheets, rotating each sheet in a different direction as you add it.
  9. Spoon spinach-feta mixture into skillet and spread in even layer. 
  10. Carefully fold overhanging edges of phyllo toward center of pan. Lightly brush exposed surface of phyllo with butter.
  11. Cook skillet over medium heat on stovetop for 5 minutes to crisp bottom crust. 
  12. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until phyllo is golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes.
  13. Remove skillet from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before cutting into 8 wedges and serving.
Recipe inspired by Skillet Spanakopita from NYT Cooking

1 comment:

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