Make spanakopita a light but satisfying meal

By Jim Bailey

I adore Greek cuisine and have a lifelong ambition to someday visit that great nation.  The ancient culture has intrigued me since I was a child, the language has grabbed my attention ever since I learned the Greek alphabet as a teen and the food makes me want to fly there just to taste authentic spanakopita. But if I can’t jump on my jet just yet, at least I can give you a recipe for this dish that is both easy to prepare and delightful to enjoy.

Crispy and smooth spanakopita

I really shouldn’t even classify this dish as a meal because in Greece, it is mainly eaten as a snack, much like we enjoy chicken wings here in the United States. But I find that by adding a fresh, crisp salad and some crusty bread, it does satisfy, especially when you don’t want to feel bloated after a meal. (Remember Thanksgiving and Christmas?)

Pair spanakopita with a salad and crusty bread for a satisfying meal.

For a change of pace, you don’t have to stick with spinach. Cook up some other leafy greens such as sorrel, Swiss chard, turnip greens, beet greens, collard greens or kohlrabi. As for the cheese, I wouldn’t substitute anything for this fine Greek staple.

1 pound fresh spinach leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
1 small bunch green onions, chopped
3 tablespoons dried dill
Pinch ground nutmeg
Salt and black pepper to taste
1/4 lb. feta cheese, crumbled
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 pound ricotta cheese
Nonstick cooking spray
1 (17-ounce) package of frozen phyllo sheets, thawed in refrigerator

Rinse and drain the spinach very, very well. Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. Saute onions 2 minutes. Add spinach and dill and continue cooking for 4 minutes, or until the spinach is just barely wilted. Add the nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Spinach mixture should be on the dry side. Remove from heat and set the spinach aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the feta and eggs until just mixed. Add the cooled spinach mixture and mix until just combined. Spray a 9 x 12 oven pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Spray 2 sheets with cooking spray. Cut each sheet into 4 x 4-inch squares. Place half of the squares onto prepared sheet pan and add 2 T. spinach mixture onto each square. Whip ricotta cheese in a bowl to smooth. Dollop a tablespoon or two onto the center of each spinach mound and cover with the remainder of the spinach mixture so each square has an even amount. Press with a spatula to flatten. Layer the remainder of the squares over the spinach mixture, making sure to spray the top of each with cooking spray.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven until the tops turn a deep golden brown, about 20-25 minutes. This makes 12 individual servings, with 2 squares per person.

During the first week of February, Schiffer Books of Pennsylvania is releasing Jim Bailey’s new book The Yankee Chef: Feel Good Food for Every Kitchen.  It contains more than 550 traditional New England comfort-food recipes tweaked for today’s palates with hundreds of kitchen tips and food facts. The hardback book is 312 pages and contains 200 color images. Its ISBN is 978-0-7643-4191-5 and the cost is $34.99. The book can be ordered through Misty Valley Books, 802-875-3400.



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Filed Under: Community and Arts LifeThe Yankee Chef

About the Author: Jim Bailey is a third generation Yankee Chef, New England food historian and newspaper columnist. His first cookbook, simply titled The Yankee Chef, has been published. He welcomes all feedback, questions or comments at

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