As someone who loves to entertain, I’m always on the lookout for easy and delicious appetizers to serve to guests. Spanakopita is my go-to dish – I always have a batch in my freezer ready to bake whenever I need them. Here’s my favorite recipe that’s sure to impress your guests
Spanakopita, a traditional Greek dish made with spinach and feta cheese baked in crispy phyllo dough, has long been a crowd favorite at gatherings and events. As a former caterer, I can attest that this delicious appetizer always stole the show alongside other Mediterranean classics like Roasted beet hummus, baba ganoush, rosemary garlic lamb chops, Greek salad, and of course, the moussaka for a full unforgettable Mediterranean meal.
But did you know that other cultures have variations of this popular dish? In the Middle East, our version of spinach pie is called the spinach triangle or “Fatayer Sabanekh,” made with sumac, lemon, and olive oil, but no cheese. These savory, handheld pastries are a staple at family gatherings and events and just as beloved as the Greek Spanakopita.
As a lover of both Mediterranean cuisines, I wanted to create a recipe that combined the best of both worlds. And so, I present my Simple Spanakopita Recipe for Beginners, featuring crispy phyllo dough, a savory spinach and feta filling, and a touch of lemon and sumac for that Middle Eastern twist. Whether you love the Greek Spanakopita, the Middle Eastern spinach triangle, or a good pastry, this recipe will surely impress.
How to Prepare the Spinach:
Using frozen chopped spinach is a convenient and time-saving option for this recipe. To use frozen spinach, thaw the package according to the instructions, drain the excess water, and pat the spinach dry with paper towels.
Removing as much water as possible is essential if you prefer fresh spinach to prevent the filling from becoming too wet. To do this, wash the spinach thoroughly, sprinkle a little salt over the leaves, and massage them for a few minutes until you start to see water droplets form. Rinse the spinach under cold water and squeeze it with your hands to remove as much liquid as possible.
Excess water in the spinach can lead to a soggy filling, making it challenging to work with the phyllo dough and affecting the overall texture and taste of the dish. That’s why ensuring your spinach is well-drained and as dry as possible before using it in the recipe is essential.
How to Prepare the Phyllo Dough for your Spanakopita:
To prepare the phyllo dough, take it out of the freezer and thaw it in the refrigerator overnight or on the counter for a few hours. Once thawed, keep the dough covered with a damp towel or plastic wrap while you work, as the dough can dry quickly and crack.
Work with two sheets simultaneously when you’re ready to assemble the spanakopita. Cut the phyllo dough into 3-inch wide strips using a ruler or sharp knife. Each set of two sheets should make four small spanakopita. Be sure to cover the remaining dough while you work to prevent it from drying out.
Brush melted butter onto each layer of phyllo dough before adding the spinach mixture. Fold the corner of the dough over the spinach to create a triangle shape and continue folding until the end of the strip. Brush both sides of the spanakopita with egg mixture and place them evenly on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
Here’s a variation of the spanakopita recipe that you can customize to your liking:
While the classic Spanakopita recipe calls for spinach and feta cheese, there are many ways to make it your own. For a vegan twist, you can substitute the feta cheese for a plant-based alternative or omit it altogether. Try using kale or Swiss chard instead of spinach for a different flavor profile. To add a unique twist, you can also experiment with other herbs and spices, such as mint, oregano, or smoked paprika. Opting for olive oil instead of butter can make this dish vegan. Feel free to get creative and make this recipe your own by trying different ingredients and variations.
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Have you made this simple yet delicious spanakopita? I love to hear from you; please feel free to leave me a comment below.