As children, my two sibbies and I were lucky enough to have a Dad who whipped up some pretty awesome food for us. Mum had her own specialties too (seriously she is the meatball and rissole champion of the world). Chicken masala, homemade dolmades and chinese fillet steak were always favourites. Perhaps one of my most favourite (although this is a pretty tough call) meals was spanikopita or spinach pie. There's something about the combo that just makes me melt and when done well it really just sings in your mouth. It only gets better the next day and it is the perfect pie to have when you want something that is still comforting but a little lighter than the average meat filled specimen.
There are, of course, the way too tart versions that you can sometimes buy at a dodgy joint, and I must plead- don't think those bitter babies are a true indication of all this pie can be. Seriously, get yourself to a good Greek place or, alternatively, make your own. That way you can tweak it to include different types of feta and maybe even use a little extra butter on the filo!
Spanikopita (Spinach Pie)-
Ingredients (serves 4)
125 butter (melted)
2 bunches English spinach, washed, leaves removed from stalks (chopped)
350 g feta cheese (I use Danish feta, but you can use whatever your little heart desires)
4 shallots, thinly sliced
3 eggs, lightly beaten
12 sheets filo pastry (try to buy fresh filo pastry - it really doesn't freeze very well and breaks easily when frozen)
salt and pepper
1) Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease ovenproof dish with oil.
2) Put some olive oil in the pan and add shallots to cook until brown (medium heat).
3) Add chopped spinach and wilt down for about 15 minutes or until most of the moisture has been cooked out of the spinach and the onions and spinach are well combined.
4) Take the mixture from the bowl and leave to cool slightly.
5) Whilst the mixture is cooling, start layering filo pastry into the bottom of the ovenproof dish. Brush on butter between each layer. I usually use at least 6 layers on the bottom (a good tip is to keep the filo pastry covered under a tea towel to prevent it drying out)
6) Once the spinach and onion mixture has cooled to room temperature, mix with the feta and eggs and season generously with salt and pepper. Spoon mixture into pie dish.
7) Once mixutre is even in dish, layer filo pastry (at least another six layers), again brushing butter on between each layer. Make sure to cover the top sheet genererously.
8) Bake for 35 minutes or until firm in the centre. Remove from oven.
9) Serve with salad a nice salad and don't forget to save some for tomorrow- trust me, it tastes better when it's cold!!