Spanakopita Revisited

Spanakopita is Greek spinach and feta pie.  It's one of those things that sounds very promising, but often turns out less so.  I have made spanakopita that was soggy, that had too little filling, that was tasteless.  This new recipe from Cook's Illustrated fixes all of those flaws.  It also makes a large quantity, so make sure you have plenty of spanakopita lovers to feed!

From Cooks Illustrated
Serves 10-12
45 minutes to prep; 20 minutes to bake

For the filling:
2 (9oz) bags of spinach
1/4 cup water
12 oz feta cheese (about 3 cups), crumbled
3/4 cup sour cream
4 scallions (also called green onions), sliced
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup minced mint leaves
2 Tblsp minced dill
4 garlic cloves, pressed through a garlic press
1 tsp grated zest, plus 1 Tblsp juice from one lemon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

For the fillo layers:
6 Tblsp salted butter, melted
1/2 pound fillo dough, thawed on the counter top for 3-4 hours, sheets cut to 14x9"
1 1/2 oz Pecorino Romano cheese (about 3/4 cup)

Make the filling: Place spinach and water in a large microwave safe bowl.  Cover the bowl with a lid or a plate and microwave on high power until the spinach is wilted, about 5 minutes.  Let stand for one minute.  Transfer the spinach to a colander in the sink and press with a metal spoon to squeeze out excess water.  Dump the spinach out onto a cutting board and roughly chop.  Transfer to a clean old kitchen towel and squeeze thoroughly to remove excess water.

In a large bowl combine the chopped spinach, feta cheese crumbles, sour cream, scallions, eggs, mint, dill, garlic, lemon zest and juice, nutmeg, black pepper, salt and cayenne.  Mix until well combined.  (The filling can be made up to 24 hours in advance and kept in the refrigerator.)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Line a rimmed baking dish with parchment paper. Lay a sheet of fillo down on the parchment and brush it lightly with melted butter.  Repeat with 9 more sheets.

Spread the spinach mixture in a thick layer over the fillo, leaving a 1/4 inch border on all sides.  Cover the spinach with 6 fillo sheets, brushing each with butter and sprinkling each with about 2 Tblsp of Pecorino Romano cheese.  Lay 2 more layers of fillo on top, brushing only with butter.

Use the palms of your hands to press the layers together and work out any air pockets, working from the center outward.  Using a sharp knife, score the pie into 24 equal pieces, cutting only through the top few layers of fillo.

Bake until crisp and golden, about 20 minutes.  Cool for 10 minutes and serve.


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