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Spanakopita or Spinach Pie

October 22nd, 2009

107344Maybe ten years ago or so, when I was playing house with my coke dealer and his children, I spent a lot of time in Rutland and Fair Haven, Vermont.  They’re tiny towns, when compared to places like Schenectady, Rutland being only slightly larger than Fair Haven, but there’s exponentially more for adults to do there than in Whitehall, New York, which is where I lived at the time.

There were two restaurants that we frequented.  One was a restaurant called The Fair Haven Inn that was owned by a Greek family who’s black sheep I was best friends (almost lovers) with, and the other was a decently sized diner called Rutland Diner that was owned by a different Greek family that I had no ties to.  Both served their own version of spanakopita, or spinach pie, and I was instantly hooked.

What’s completely bizarre about this is, before I tried spanakopita, I refused to let spinach anywhere near my mouth.  Long story short, when I was about six, my father made me eat an entire can of PopEye Spinach (You remember the brand, I’m sure).  I vomited directly after finishing the can and never ate spinach again.

Until the first time my dealer and I sat down in Rutland Diner.

Their version of spanakopita was complimentary with any meal and was more pie-like.  They made it in sheets instead of triangles.  They served it hot or cold and I didn’t know it could be served hot until I had it at The Fair Haven Inn.

Shortly after Master tried spanakopita for the first time and liked it (I took Him to Rutland Diner shortly after we met.), I went on a mad dash for a recipe.  Unfortunately, these are much cheaper to buy from the store than to make from scratch.  Between the phyllo and feta, this recipe tends to be a little pricey.  But for us, the extra $5 or so is worth it.  Making them from scratch means we can make them taste exactly how we like them.  Store bought spanakopita tends to be a little bland.  Master likes His tangy. 

5 Ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
8 Ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 Cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1 Medium onion, diced and sauteed
1/2 Teaspoon dried dill weed
1/2 Teaspoon dried basil
1/2 Teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 Teaspoon minced garlic
1 Box of phyllo
1/2 Cup butter, melted
1 Large egg beaten

Preheat oven according to phyllo package directions.

Mix spinach, feta, Parmesan, onion, dill, basil, oregano and garlic in mixing bowl.

Beat egg and butter in small bowl.

To be honest, I forget how phyllo is packaged.  The recipe I found calls for turnover shells, rather than phyllo.  Turnover shells are a little more puffy and a little less flaky, but they work.  I seem to remember there being wax paper between what’s considered a “sheet” of phyllo.  I also seem to remember using half a sheet per triangle.

Can you tell it’s been a while since we’ve made it from scratch? Seriously need to do that again.

You want to brush the inside of the shells with the egg and butter mixture.  Then spoon filling into half of the square.  Finally, fold the square into a triangle, being sure to fold the edges over so the filling doesn’t spill out.  You can seal them with a little bit of the egg and butter mixture if necessary.

Place seam side down on an ungreased cookie sheet and brush the egg and butter mixture over the top so the phyllo will brown.  Put it in the oven and bake until golden brown on top (or according to the directions on the box). Voila! The best spanakopita you’ve ever tasted.

The recipe calls for dried dill weed, but when Master and I had a garden, we used fresh.  It was better with the fresh.

All of the spices are guesstimates.  Experiment with it and see how you like it best.  We like it really tangy and garlicky.  So we usually use more garlic and dill than it calls for.

The phyllo website tells you what stores you can buy it in.  I just get it from WalMart.  I know they sell it so I don’t bother looking for it in other stores.  So if you’ve got a WalMart near you, you can find phyllo in their frozen food section.  Usually by pies and pie shells.

The phyllo website also has directions on how to handle the flaky dough.  I can’t remember if it’s on the box or not.  I would absolutely check out their website, if not, to avoid ruining any of the dough.  It is kind of expensive.

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