I first ate spanakópita, a Greek spinach pie, in 1958 in Aberdeen, MD while serving my short stint* in the U. S. Army. It was in a little roadside diner, as I recall, that was owned by a Greek emigrant. I was blown away, it was so good. I have never made it as good as my wakening culinary memory recorded the experience at that time.

I later learned from a Greek-born acquaintance that the more correct term for the spinach pie with cheese is spanáki tyrópita, but over time most (non-purists) put feta cheese in their spinach pie, and still call it just spanakópita.

The following is more or less the classic recipe.

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 pounds spinach, rinsed and chopped, ribs removed
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup crumbled nonfat feta cheese
  • 8 sheets phyllo dough
  • ¼ cup olive oil

Lightly oil a 9” square baking pan. Heat 3 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté onion, green onions and garlic until soft and lightly browned. Stir in spinach and parsley, and continue to sauté until spinach is limp, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, mix together eggs, ricotta, and feta. Stir in spinach mixture. Lay 1 sheet of phyllo* dough in prepared baking pan, and brush lightly with olive oil. Lay another sheet of phyllo dough on top, brush with olive oil, and repeat process with two more sheets of phyllo. The sheets will overlap the pan. Spread spinach and cheese mixture into pan and fold overhanging dough over filling. Brush with oil, then layer remaining 4 sheets of phyllo dough, brushing each with oil. Tuck overhanging dough into pan to seal filling.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until golden brown. Cut into squares and serve while hot.