This traditional spanakopita recipe is an easy meatless meal

This traditional spanakopita recipe is an easy meatless meal

The secret ingredients for a simple but impressive dinner may already be in your refrigerator: frozen filo pastry and frozen spinach (lots of it) for the delicious Greek pie spanakopita.

First, let’s dispel the idea that the phyllo process is difficult. Ignore those difficult instructions in most recipes; phyllo is actually more forgiving than it sounds. The only trick is to thaw in the refrigerator at least a day before. Then spread melted butter or olive oil judiciously over several layers as you place them, one at a time, on top of the filling for a flaky, golden crust. No rolling pins and no messy flour.

Second, at this time of year, frozen spinach is tastier and more nutritious than fresh. They are frozen once picked, and retain their flavor and vitamins. California spinach spent days traveling from field to warehouse, to grocery shelf, to our refrigerators. (It can lose 90% of its nutrients within 48 hours of being picked).

Spanakopita makes a great main dish, and when cut into small triangles, it makes a great appetizer or first course. It’s a great way this time of year to use up pantry staples while cleaning out the freezer. Feel free to change the group. Mix other frozen vegetables (peas, corn, carrots) with the spinach. Try replacing the feta with a milder chevre and the parmesan with aged Gouda. Experiment with spices, too. Add a little thyme or cumin, a few red pepper flakes – whatever you prefer and have on hand.

This simple country pie checks a lot of boxes: It’s versatile, elegant, delicious, vegetarian, and dinner party-worthy but easy enough for a Tuesday night.

Spanakopita

Serves 4 to 6.

This classic Greek pie is easy and impressive to make. Just make sure to thaw the spinach well and squeeze out the excess water. They can be baked in advance, kept in the refrigerator, and then reheated over low heat before serving. Makes a simple dinner or a festive appetizer. By Beth Dooley.

• 3 tablespoons. Extra virgin olive oil

• 1 c. Finely chopped onion

• 5 green onions, trimmed and finely chopped

• 2 minced garlic cloves

• 4 packages (10 oz). Frozen spinach, thawed well, squeezed out of water

• Coarse salt and black pepper

• 2 eggs

• 1 c. crumbled feta cheese (about 5 ounces)

• 1/2 c. Grated Parmesan (about 2 ounces)

• 1/2 c. Chopped parsley

• 1 teaspoon. Dried oregano

• 1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted (or extra virgin olive oil)

• 8 to 10 sheets of frozen filo pastry, thawed and divided in half horizontally

directione

Grease a large, deep pot with oil and place it over medium heat. Add onion, scallions, and garlic and cook, stirring, until vegetables are tender, about 3 minutes. Add the spinach and continue cooking until the liquid evaporates, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove and allow to cool to room temperature. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the eggs, feta cheese, parmesan, and oregano.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Grease a deep 9-inch skillet or skillet with butter. Place half a sheet of phyllo in the pan; Brush it with melted butter. Repeat 7 to 9 times to form crust. Distribute the spinach evenly on the phyllo sheets. Grease half a sheet of phyllo with butter and place it on top of the filling, butter side up. Repeat with the remaining sheets of phyllo.

Bake until crust is golden and filling is hot, 50 to 60 minutes. Slice and serve.

Beth Dooley is the author of The Permanent Kitchen. Find her at bethdooleyskitchen.com.

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