Culinary Fact: No storebought pastry dough can ever be compared to a homemade one! Whether it's a puff pastry, a buttery pie dough, or like in this case, a phyllo dough. A pie, like this Authentic Greek Spanakopita, can become so much more AMAZING when made with homemade phyllo dough.
When making pies in Greece, we consider storebought phyllo pastry as a quick, B quality alternative. We always prefer homemade phyllo because it's the REAL STUFF! Storebought phyllo is better when used to make desserts like Baklava.
Homemade phyllo is very flaky, crispy, so much more flavorful, and oily. That is if you do have the right recipe (like this one here), and some time to spare to make it. If you do then follow me to make the best, and most delicious Spinach pie you have ever made!
What's In An Authentic Spanakopita Pie Filling
Authentic Spanakopita can either be made with feta cheese or without. This version is without feta cheese but if you wish to add some you can easily do so by incorporating 100-150 grams of crumbled feta into the prepared pie filling.
Traditionally, spinach pie can also be made using all types of greens. We sometimes even call it "Hortopita" (greens-pie). That's because, in older times, women would go to their back garden or to the mountains and collect every green there was available (wild or cultivated ones) to make a pie and feed their family.
If you want to use a creamier filling for this pie, check out this Greek Yogurt Creamed Spinach Recipe.
And since spinach is one of the most delicious and easier to get greens, we ended up with this Spanakopita recipe.
Wild greens traditionally used in making an old-fashioned Spanakopita are: mangel greens, broadleaf docks, dandelion greens, wild fennel, and garlic. In this recipe, I use just spinach along with spring onions, leeks, and dill since I don't expect you'll be climbing a mountain to get your food anytime soon. But here's a list with wild greens just in case you're interested.
How To Make Homemade Phyllo
Phyllo is made with flour, water, olive oil, salt, and vinegar (makes it crispy). You mix all of the ingredients until you have a slightly sticky soft dough. You let the dough rest for a while at room temperature before using.
To make phyllo you'll need a rolling pin, a wide flat surface (preferably wooden one) plenty of extra flour for dusting, and lots of olive oil for greasing the phyllo.
So to create phyllo sheets, you first divide the dough into small parts by cutting it with a knife. Take one piece and shape into a ball and then flatten it with your hands. Dust surface with flour, place the flattened ball on the surface and dust with flour as well. Use the rolling pin to roll open the dough. Roll always towards one direction (for an even shaped pastry), and flip the dough often so it won't start sticking on your working surface.
What basically happens is that the dough slowly absorbs the flour you dust on top and slowly gets bigger and bigger while you roll.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that phyllo requires lots of oil on each layer in order to cook properly. So make sure you grease each phyllo with plenty of olive oil.
For this pie, you'll need a round 12-inch / 30-cm baking pan.
Spanakopita Recipe Greek Spinach Pie
For the phyllo dough:
- 500 grams 17.6 oz all purpose flour + more for dusting
- 1,5 tablespoons salt
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 5 tablespoons olive oil + plenty more for greasing
- 260 ml tepid water
For the filling:
- 800 grams / 28.2 oz fresh spinach
- 1 leak the white part
- 2-3 small spring onions chopped
- ½ small onion finely chopped
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- a handful fresh dill chopped
- 150 grams / 5.3 oz feta cheese
For The Phyllo Dough:
- In a large bowl combine all ingredients for the phyllo dough.
- Knead dough for at least 5 minutes. Until you have a dough that feels sticky, without leaving any fragments on your hands, however.
- Cover the bowl with a wet towel (for humidity). Let dough rest for half an hour at room temperature.
For The Filling:
- Separate the spinach leaves from their branches and any old leaves. Wash spinach leaves thoroughly in lots of water. NOTE: let the spinach soak for a few minutes. It helps remove more dirt this way.
- Heat the 5 tablespoons of olive oil in a cooking pot over high heat. Add the onion, spring onions, and leak. Cook until softened.
- One at a time, add a handful of spinach leaves in the pot. Mix with a wooden spoon and add a pinch of salt (it helps the spinach drain more easily). Let it cook for about 15-20 minutes until all the juices drained up completely . Stir in the fresh dill and set aside while you prepare the phyllo.
- Cut the phyllo dough in half. Cut each half to 3 equal pieces. Shape into a ball and set aside. (Each piece is going to be one phyllo sheet).
- Flour your working surface ( preferably a large wooden one). Take 1 dough piece, and dust it with flour until it stops sticking to your hands.
- With a rolling pin start working the dough. Roll up and down starting from the center of the dough. Roll a few times up and down and then flip the dough upside down. Making sure each time you dust with flour both the surface and the phyllo (otherwise it will start to stick on the rolling pin or on the surface). The more you roll the more flour it absorbs and the bigger it will get. To flip it when it has become big enough, roll the phyllo in order to wrap it around your rolling pin. Keep rolling until you have a piece of phyllo that's big enough to cover your baking pan's width and height.
- Hold the baking pan on top of the phyllo you just made and check if it's big enough. NOTE: if phyllo sheet tears somewhere no worries as the next phyllo sheet will cover it.
- Grease the pan (a round 12-inch / 30-cm) with PLENTY of olive oil. Now slowly unroll your first phyllo in the pan.
- Grease the phyllo with plenty of oil and start making the next one. After having 3 phyllo layers, add the filling.
- Cover the filling with 3 phyllo layers (don't forget grease well in between).
- Cut the excess phyllo of the inner 4 layers leaving the remaining 2 outer phyllo sheets to overlap inwards and create a pie ending.
- Preheat oven to 428 °F/ 220°C.
- Grease the top of the pie with olive oil and prick a few times with a knife.
- Bake the pie for about 30-40 minutes. Or until it gets a light golden brown color on top. Shake the pan to make sure the pie's bottom is cooked as well. When it's done the pie will move in the pan otherwise it will stick to the bottom.
- Let the pie stand for a few minutes before cutting and serving.
Here's some Top Quality Greek Olive Oil to use :
- 2017 GOLD Medal Winner PJ KABOS 16.9Floz Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil | 100% FRESH olive oil born in Ancient Olympia vicinity | Greece | KORONEIKI Variety | 16.9Floz tin
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Okay, so this is the first time I was able to successfully make phyllo for a pita, thanks to your awesome recipe/instructions. I've been referring to recipes from Akis P's website, but my husband is telling me to stick to the recipes you post instead...THANK YOU again! 😉
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Thank you, Maria. It really makes me so happy to hear that. I know making phyllo isn't the easiest thing so I'm glad I could help.