WGN Entertainment Reporter Dean Richards shares his recipe for Spanakopita — a Greek Spinach Pie.
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (a stick and a half)
- 2medium leeks (about 1½ pounds), white and pale-green parts only, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise (about 3 cups)
- 6 garlic cloves, chopped
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 1½ pounds fresh baby spinach
- ¾ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
- ½ cup chopped fresh dill
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest, plus 2 teaspoons juice (from 1 large lemon)
- Pinch of ground nutmeg
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 6 ounces feta cheese in brine, drained and crumbled (about 1½ cups feta. I prefer Dodoni brand)
- 8 sheets phyllo dough. #4 thickness but any thickness will work, thawed, laid flat on a sheet pan and loosely covered with a towel
- In a large (preferably 10-inch) cast-iron skillet, melt 3 tablespoons butter over medium heat.
- Add the leeks and garlic, season generously with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes.
- Add one large handful of spinach at a time, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper and stir until wilted, until you’ve added and seasoned all of the spinach and the mixture is thoroughly combined, about 12 minutes.
- Remove the skillet from the heat and let it cool completely.
Arrange an oven rack in the middle position (or a grill with a defector pizza stone) and pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
- In a large bowl, combine the parsley, dill, Parmesan, lemon zest and juice and nutmeg. Stir to combine.
- Working with about 1 cup at a time, transfer the spinach mixture to a fine-mesh strainer or sieve set in the sink and press the mixture to remove as much liquid as possible, then add to the parsley mixture.
- Stir to combine, and season to taste with salt and pepper. (Feta is salty, so season very lightly with salt here.)
- Stir in the eggs, then gently fold in the feta, doing your best to leave the larger chunks intact.
Prepare the phyllo crust:
- Wipe the skillet clean with a paper towel. In a small saucepan over low heat or in a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave, melt the remaining butter; set aside.
- Brush the bottom and sides of the skillet with melted butter.
- Working quickly, lay in one phyllo sheet at a time, slightly rotating them. Lightly brush the top of each sheet with butter, then lay it in the skillet, buttered-side up, with an overhang on all sides.
- Gently press it in to eliminate any large air bubbles between the phyllo and the pan. Repeat with the remaining phyllo sheets.
- Spoon the spinach-feta mixture into the skillet, spreading in an even layer. Working with one tip of overhanging phyllo dough at a time, starting with the top layer first, lift it over the spinach-feta mixture and toward the center of the pan, loosely crinkling it as you go.
- Repeat with all of the phyllo sheets, then lightly brush the exposed surface of the phyllo with butter. (You should have a circle of uncovered spinach-feta mixture in the center, surrounded by a ring of crinkled phyllo dough.)
Cook over medium heat on the stovetop for about 5 minutes to crisp the bottom crust.
Transfer to middle rack of the oven, and bake until phyllo is golden and the filling is warmed; 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove from oven. Let it cool and firm up for 10 minutes
Slice into 6 to 8 wedges to serve. The spanakopita can be served warm or at room temperature.