Spinach & Feta Spanakopita

A special thanks to Shallan who owns the cookbook that this recipe came from, Back to Basics, and thanks to Ina Garten who never disappoints me.

Greek food is something I could eat everyday and not get sick of.  If I wanted something light, I could have  a refreshing Greek salad loaded with tomatoes, cucumbers, mint, parsley and feta.  In the mood for something warm and comforting…lamb gyro slathered with tzatziki or a nice plate full of pastitsio.  And then there is baklava…oh, baklava…

These dinner sized spanakopita are not too light or too heavy, but are not exactly easy to prepare.  I found myself quite frustrated with phyllo dough by the last few pies.  My tip to you is this.  Make sure you buy your phyllo a day before you plan to make these and let it defrost in the fridge overnight.  I let mine stand at room temp to defrost and a section of it got too wet from defrosting and was incredibly sticky.  I spent a lot of time and energy wrestling with it.

The spinach and feta filling dotted with yummy toasted pine nuts is simple and delicious.  Taste the spinach and onion mixture before adding the eggs and make sure it is well salted.  I found the filling to be a little lacking in salt.

Spinach & Feta Spanakopita

Courtesy of Ina Garten, Back to Basics


  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 3 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
  • 2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
  • 4 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Plain dry bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups small-diced feta (12 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  • 24 sheets frozen phyllo dough, defrosted
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • Flaked sea salt, such as Maldon, for sprinkling


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Heat the olive oil in a medium saute pan, add the onion, and cook for 5 minutes over medium-low heat. Add the scallions, and cook for another 2 minutes until the scallions are wilted but still green.
  2. Meanwhile, gently squeeze most of the water out of the spinach and place it in a large bowl.
  3. When the onion and scallions are done, add them to the spinach. Mix in the eggs, Parmesan cheese, 3 tablespoons bread crumbs, the nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Gently fold in the feta and pine nuts.
  4. Place 1 sheet of phyllo dough flat on a work surface with the long end in front of you. Brush the dough lightly with butter and sprinkle it with a teaspoon of bread crumbs.
  5. Working quickly, slide another sheet of phyllo dough on top of the first, brush it with butter, and sprinkle lightly with bread crumbs. (Use just enough bread crumbs so the layers of phyllo don’t stick together.) Pile 4 layers total on top of each other this way, brushing each with butter and sprinkling with bread crumbs.
  6. Cut the sheets of phyllo in half lengthwise. Place 1/3 cup spinach filling on the shorter end and roll the phyllo up diagonally as if folding a flag. Then fold the triangle of phyllo over straight and then diagonally again. Continue folding first diagonally and then straight until you reach the end of the sheet. The filling should be totally enclosed.
  7. Continue assembling phyllo layers and folding the filling until all of the filling is used. Place on a sheet pan, seam sides down.
  8. Brush with melted butter, sprinkle with flaked salt, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the phyllo is browned and crisp. Serve hot.

Galaktoboureko: Greek Phyllo Custard Pie

Sweet, creamy, rich and wonderful.  I made Greek food for dinner on Friday night, and I wanted to make a Greek dessert that wasn’t baklava.  I love baklava and have a good recipe for it that hasn’t failed me yet, but I wanted to try something new.


There were so many different recipes and methods for this dessert.  Some were made in a 9×13 pan.  Others were made into individual little pies.  I baked mine in a 9 inch pie plate, and it turned out well.  There is something appealing to me about doing this dessert in little individual packages so that more of the phyllo stays nice and crisp.  However, the pie plate was nice and self contained with no serious risk of leaking.

This dessert is made of a custard of milk, eggs, semolina flour, sugar and butter wrapped in phyllo and soaked in some type of syrup after baking.  The kind of milk, number of eggs, and flavor of syrup varied quite a bit in the recipes I browsed, but the methods were all similar.  I chose this recipe from Epicurious .

Phyllo-Custard Pie


  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cups water
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange peel
  • 1/2 cup semolina flour*
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 11 tablespoons (about) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 10 fresh phyllo pastry sheets or frozen, thawed


Stir 1 1/4 cups sugar and 2/3 cup water in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Add cinnamon sticks and 1/2 teaspoon orange peel and simmer 2 minutes. Set syrup aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix semolina and 1/2 cup sugar in heavy medium saucepan. Whisk in milk and 4 tablespoons melted butter; bring to boil, whisking occasionally. Boil until mixture is thick and creamy, whisking constantly, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk eggs and 1/2 teaspoon orange peel in medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in semolina mixture. Mix in vanilla. Cool filling completely.

Lightly butter 10-inch glass pie dish. Place 1 phyllo sheet in bottom of dish. Brush with melted butter. Top with second sheet. Continue layering with 3 more sheets, brushing each with butter. Spoon filling into dish. Top with 5 more phyllo sheets, brushing each with butter. Using scissors, trim excess phyllo from sides of dish. With very sharp knife, score tip of phyllo sheets, forming diamond pattern.

Bake pie until phyllo is golden brown and filling is set, about 45 minutes. Transfer pie to rack. Immediately strain 1 cup cooled syrup over pastry. Cool completely. Cut into wedges and serve.

I LOVED this pie.  Crisp phyllo encasing a creamy custard.  Just delightful.  It was too rich for Ben, but most desserts are.  It was good at room temperature, but so lovely after it had chilled in the fridge for a few hours…and delicious the next day as well!  The cinnamon syrup is essential and gives the pie a nice flavor.  Try this next time you want a fairly easy and very  impressive dessert.