Mediterranean spinach-feta pie
This crisp, flavorful pie makes a fine lunch dish and can also be served as a starter or part of a mezze-style meal. It’s fun to make and very simple once you’ve assembled the ingredients. Preparation takes about 20 minutes, followed by 30 minutes in the oven.
You can use fresh or frozen spinach (chopped or whole leaf). The key is to drain the cooked spinach very thoroughly before adding it to the other ingredients. Do this through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing down with the back of a spoon.
As for the filo, it can be found fresh in Greek shops or frozen. Either is fine. If you use the frozen variety, it needs a couple hours to defrost before use. If you haven’t used filo before, the trick is to work quickly to prevent the very fine sheets of dough from drying out.
You will need a 9-inch (23-cm) pie pan, preferably with straight sides, as well as a pastry brush. Hint: if you don’t have a pastry brush, a small, flat paint brush about 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide makes a great substitute.
This pie marries well with red wine or rosé. As a lunch dish, you can serve a mixed-leaf salad alongside and follow up with fruit or a light dessert, for example pears poached in wine and cassis or crème caramel. Dishes that could accompany the pie nicely in a mezze spread include eggplant caviar, tangy fava spread, spicy carrot salad, chick pea salad, tapenade, anchovy garlic dip, herbal tomato salad, Greek salad and tarama.
The recipe serves 3-4 as a main dish, and 6-8 as a starter.
1 cup well-drained cooked spinach
1/2 pound (200 g) feta
1/2 cup (100 g) Greek yogurt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tbsp. chopped fresh dill
freshly ground black pepper
4 tbsp. butter (50 g, 1/2 stick)
6-8 sheets filo dough
Cook the spinach (fresh or frozen) in a little water. Transfer to a fine-mesh sieve and drain thoroughly. If using whole-leaf spinach, transfer to a board and chop roughly.
Break the eggs into a medium bowl. Whisk.
Mash the feta with a fork, breaking up the lumps. Stir into the eggs.
Add the Greek yogurt, cinnamon and fresh dill. Grind on some black pepper. Stir well to blend. Add the spinach and stir again.
Preheat the oven to gas mark 6 (350 F, 180 C).
Melt the butter in a small pan. Using a pastry brush, coat your pie pan with butter.
Open your packet of filo dough and place one sheet over the pie pan. It will overlap. Coat the sheet with butter — both the bottom and the sides. Repeat with the rest of the filo until you’ve used all but one of the sheets, layering them in so that the overlap goes in opposite directions each time. Butter each sheet as you lay it in, then continue quickly.
Add the spinach filling to the pie pan. Fold the overlapping pieces of filo in towards the center of the pan. Butter well.
Fold your last piece of filo into a square and place on top of the pie, folding the edges underneath. Butter well.
Cut a couple of slits through the top of the pie to allow steam to escape.
Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden.
Serve hot or warm. Serves 3-4 as a lunch dish, 6-8 as a starter.