It was only recently that I realized my friend Cynthia, a mother of three whom I have known for a good five years now, really doesn’t cook. Like, at all. Having a husband with skills in the kitchen and reliable take-out options on speed dial, she’s got it covered. Clever girl.

So when she told me that spanikopita, Greek spinach pie, is one of just a handful of things she does know how to make, I figured it’s got to be good. Plus, Cynthia is half Greek, and there’s nothing like getting recipes from the source.

My instincts were right. The recipe is a winner. Crispy, delicate filo encase sautéed spinach mixed with eggs and feta cheese. My kids are big fans, completely wowed by the golden pastry and cheesy interior, they don’t seem to notice they’re eating a big ‘ole slab of dark leafy greens.

The recipe calls for frozen, chopped spinach, which means there is no fussing over washing and cutting. Consider opting for organic since conventional spinach is one of the “dirty dozen,” those pesky vegetables heavy on pesticide residues.

The original recipe is too decadent for my everyday cooking, so I tinkered with it a bit, scaling back the butter, eggs, and feta, using low-fat cottage cheese for added creaminess. Certainly it’s not as rich as the original, but it remains delicious, as evidenced by the amount I hoovered straight from the baking pan when nobody was looking. Don’t tell.

There was plenty of pie to hoover since I made three of them: one to deliver to my brother and his wife, who are nesting with a newborn, one to drop off at the neighbors who’ve just moved in down the block, and a double batch for us, some for tonight and the rest for tomorrow’s lunch boxes.

If you’ve never worked with filo before, this is a pretty forgiving place to start. I used the whole wheat version this time around and found it indistinguishable from standard filo in this preparation. I use a light hand with the butter, dabbing, more than slathering each layer of dough. It’s a good sort of dish to make with the kids since layering the dough and spreading the butter with a pastry brush feels like an art project. Plus, it’s a pretty sure way to get them to eat their spinach.

Note: If you don’t have the time or inclination to make homemade spanikopita, check out this one in the freezer section at Trader Joe’s; it’s not bad in a pinch, and pretty darn healthy.


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  1. morewithles
    03.02.2011 at 5:02 PM #

    Yum — I want to try this. I think my kids would be fine with the spinach, but I wonder if feta might be too sharp for them. I’ll let you know! :) THANKS for this.

    • 03.02.2011 at 8:09 PM #

      Let me know how it goes. The feta flavor is mellowed by the addition of the cottage cheese. Be sure to defrost the filo either on the counter for 2 hours or overnight in the fridge.

  2. Pamela
    03.02.2011 at 5:19 PM #

    Yum….this is beautiful and looks so delicious! I would like to be in a cooking class with you!

  3. 03.07.2011 at 4:54 PM #

    I have some phyllo in the freezer. I will have to try that recipe. It looks so yummy!

    Hip Chick’s Guide to PMS, Pregnancy, and Babies

    • 03.07.2011 at 8:32 PM #

      Be sure to let the dough defrost in the fridge overnight or on the counter for 2 hourse before cooking.

  4. Jennifer
    03.07.2011 at 8:30 PM #

    I made this recipe with my kids last night and they ate up the entire thing and loved every bite!! They are usually pretty particular about sharp cheesy flavors, and the cottage cheese really did mellow the feta. This is a repeat meal for sure. Thank you!

    • 03.07.2011 at 9:33 PM #

      That makes me so happy. It’s always good to add new things to your repetoire!