Spanakopita is a Greek spinach pie. Its main ingredients are spinach, feta cheese, eggs, butter or oil, and phyllo dough, which is found in the freezer case of many supermarkets. Phyllo is only hard to work with if you are a perfectionist. It will rip and some sheets will stick together but this won't effect the flavor at all!
This version uses very little oil, only about 1/4 cup, and is very easy to assemble. It also suggests variations. This is a very forgiving recipe.
1Follow package directions to thaw the phyllo. Often this means moving the package to the refrigerator four hours before you plan to assemble the spanakopita. Keep the phyllo package sealed until you are ready to use it.
2If you are using fresh spinach, steam it until it wilts. Drain it in a screen sieve, pressing with the back of a spoon to get out most of the moisture. Allow to cool. Chop coarsely.
If you are using frozen spinach, thaw, chop coarsely if not already chopped, and drain it in a screen sieve, pressing with the back of a spoon to get out most of the moisture.
3Put eggs in a large bowl and lightly beat to combine whites and yolks. Add chopped spinach and crumbled feta. Add any optional ingredients and toss to mix thoroughly.
4Choose at least one optional ingredient to add flavor and variety to the spanakopita, more than three may result in muddying the flavors. Optionally, saute or pre-cook to soften onions, celery, mushrooms, etc., or to make garlic milder. Sample combinations:
--dried dill, dried mixed spices, and grated parmesan
--sauteed mushrooms, garlic and onions
--fresh basil, onions and garlic
--sauteed celery, mushrooms and italian parsley.
5Preheat the oven to 400F.
6Measure the oil into a small dish. Dip two or three fingers into the oil and grease the bottom and sides of a rectangular baking dish. An 11" x 7" glass pan is best but a variety of shallow baking pans work well.
7Unroll the phyllo. Cover the bottom of the pan with the first sheet of phyllo. (Don't worry if the phyllo rips or occasional sheets stick together.) Visualize the four sides of the pan as north, south, east and west.
8Drape the next piece of phyllo so that it mostly covers the bottom of the pan but totally covers the north wall with about 1 inch extending over the edge of the pan. Repeat on the south side. Dip two or three fingers in the oil and dab your oiled fingers all over the phyllo but don't worry about some un-oiled spots.
9Drape the east and west sides of the pan and dab with oil. You will now have a pan that is lined with phyllo with a bit of overhang on each side.
10Repeat the north-south-dab-east-west-dab two more times. By this point you will have used approximately 13 sheets of phyllo.
11Spoon in the spinach mixture and spread evenly to cover the bottom of the phyllo lining. Fold the four sides over to cover most of the top. Don't worry about the bare center. Liberally dab the folded over phyllo with the oil.
12Repeat the north-south-dab-east-west-dab until about four sheets of phyllo remain. Don't worry if some sides are a layer short.
13Center a sheet of phyllo on top and tuck in the edges as you would sheets on a bed. Don't worry about getting the edges underneath. Dab oil down into the edges and dab all over the top. Repeat with the remaining sheets of phyllo. Make sure the final sheet and all the edges are well covered with oil. Discard any leftover oil.
14Bake in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool at least 10 minutes before cutting and serving.