Spanakopita: More than Just a Pie


Photo Credit: Lokesh Dhakar

Spanakopita is one of the best finger foods you can serve for just about any occasion. This savory Greek pie traditionally comes in the shape of a small triangle, and it is a truly attractive, delicious, and welcome addition to any meal.

Food that Comes with Some History

In What is Spanakopita?, wiseGEEK provides an overview of spanakopita through the ages: “This tasty dish may have originated over 400 years ago, and may have been introduced during the Turkish occupation of Greece. A Turkish dish, ispanaki, is almost identical in presentation, though it sometimes has scallions added. Spanakopita is better known as a Greek food, however, and one will find it served in most Greek restaurants outside of Greece, as well as in virtually all restaurants in Greece. Chefs and food historians credit Epirus, Greece with the most delicious spanakopita.

“Spanakopita is now a popular appetizer and catering staple as well. The triangular pastry can be made small, so it is the perfect bite size offering for caterers. It is often sold in delis as well, where it will probably be served lukewarm, as is traditional in Greek cooking…”

What Spanakopitas are Made Of

This savory pastry is made with a crust of phyllo or a simple dough. Its filling consists of spinach, onions, egg, and feta cheese. Some cooks will bake a whole tray of spanakopita and cut it into triangles after it has cooled; but instead of this method, some prefer to create individual triangle to pop into the oven.

Spanakopitas are usually eaten as a snack ion Greece, and these tiny bits can be served warm or at room temperature. For flavor, herbs like parsley, dill, and celery are used. In keeping with the season’s spirit, spanakopitas are made without butter or eggs during the Lenten season.

Variations of this popular morsel include the use of puff pastry instead of phyllo or dough, and some cooks will add a different kind of cheese as filling. Usually, spanakopitas are served with a dip made of yogurt, garlic, and cucumbers,

Making Spanakopita in Your Kitchen

Many specialty stores carry ready-to-bake spanakopita, and it is available already baked and ready to serve. However, if you want to take on the challenge of preparing this from scratch, you will be glad to know that it is fairly easy to make.

In Closet Cooking’s Spanakopita: Greek Spinach Pie, Kevin Lynch shares writes about his attempt to male spanakopitas. “I had been wanting to try making spanakopita ever since I started exploring Greek cuisine. Spanakopita is a Greek pastry filled with spinach and cheese. I had been putting off making it because I had not worked with phyllo dough and it sounded a bit intimidating. Since I had now used phyllo dough to make baklava there were no more excuses to stop me from making the spanakotiropita…

“The spanakopita turned out to be really easy to make. The filling is as simple as blanching the spinach and mixing all of the ingredients. The hardest part was working with the phyllo dough and once you get the hang of it, it is pretty easy as well. The phyllo dough needed to be thawed in the fridge overnight…
“I decided to go with a pretty simple recipe sticking to the basics of spinach, feta and dill. The spanakopita was so amazingly good!! Spinach, feta and dill has to be one my favorites flavour combinations! The crust was nice and light and flaky and golden brown and crunchy and good. The Spinach filling was moist and super tasty! I made the crust thick enough that I could pick up the slice and eat it without having to cut it with an knife and fork…”

Kevin Lynch found that even his leftovers were good, and like many cooks who bravely try to make this on their own, he has promised himself to repeat the experience.

Pairing Spanakopita with Wine

In Pairings/ Spanakopita from the Matching Food and Wine, Fiona Beckett says, “I generally prefer crisp whites such as Sauvignon Blanc or even a more neutral white such as a Picpoul de Pinet with a light vegetarian pie like this but have to admit the recommended pairing with a 2009 Louis Jadot Beaujolais worked really well even though the wine was quite sharp on its own…”

However, if you are having an informal gathering, beer would be just as good a match for the versatile oven product called spanakotiras. So, sit down, start with your spanakopitas, and wash them down with whatever drink makes you happy!

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