Spanakopita.

Spinach Pie.

This has been my birthday dinner for as long as I can remember.

Growing up, birthday dinner meant my mama would make anything we wanted. I loved that day. I also loved my sister’s birthday dinners because they usually chose spinach pie too.

Except one year when Nurse Stephanie wanted bagels with cream cheese.

Nothing but the best for her.

Spinach Pie is still a major guilty pleasure for me.

For when I make a pan of spinach pie, I do not stop eating until it is gone.

I love this stuff.

I’m sure most of you are familiar with the classic phyllo (Filo) stuffed Greek classic that is Spanakopita.

I’m going to give you that recipe.

But I’m also going to give you the Americanized more kid-friendly recipe that I ate growing up, and that I crave still today.

I called my mama for this recipe, and for the origin of this recipe.

It turns out that this version of Spinach Pie comes from a Meatless Meals cookbook from MCMLXXIX.

That is how the year was printed in the cookbook.

We had to figure it out, and now you can too.

The amounts below will make one full 9×11 pan of spinach pie. I made a half recipe of each, so the pictures don’t accurately represent the measurements.

Preheat your oven to 375.

For the classic Greek Spanakopita, here is what you’ll need:

10 sheets of Phyllo dough (in the frozen desserts section of the grocery store near the puff pastry and pie shells)

1/2 stick melted butter

2 10 oz. boxes frozen chopped spinach (sometimes I up this to 3 boxes for more substance)

1 c. cottage cheese

3 eggs

2 c. feta cheese

1/2 onion finely chopped

black pepper

And for my Birthday Dinner Guilty Pleasure Americanized version, here is what you’ll need:

10 sheets of Phyllo dough

1/2 stick melted butter

2 10 oz. boxes frozen chopped spinach

1 c. cottage cheese

3 eggs

2 c. cheddar cheese

black pepper

We start off with melted butter. I do believe there is no better way to start a recipe.

Wouldn’t you agree?

Brush some melted butter on the bottom of your pan:

Carefully lay down one layer of phyllo dough.

This stuff is pretty delicate.

But don’t worry, if it is pieced together and imperfect looking- it will still taste delicious.

Add another layer of butter, then another layer of the phyllo. Keep going until you have five sheets of phyllo dough on the bottom.

Did I mention that this is an extremely healthy dish?

I didn’t?

Oh.

Well, it has spinach in it.

That’s healthy.

Now set that off to the side, and lets make our filling.

For both versions the filling starts the same way.

Defrost your spinach and give it a squeeze to drain the excess water.

You can use fresh spinach or swiss chard, but when my mom first started making this recipe the grocery store didn’t have those glorious pre-washed bags of spinach.

And to quote my mama, “I wasn’t going to hand wash all of that spinach.”

Therefore, there is only one way to properly make this dish in my humble opinion. And that is to use frozen spinach- preferably chopped.

Put that in a bowl.

Add in a cup of cottage cheese.

Now, beat three eggs.

You know, come to think of it, the squeezing of the spinach and the beating of the eggs are practically a workout.

So, feel free to have an extra piece of the spinach pie when it’s done.

Add the eggs to the mix.

Now add about 1/2 t. of freshly ground pepper.

Remember Adam Sandler on SNL?

With Dana Carvey?

“Wouldya like some fresh-a pepper?”

“She like-a da fresh-a pepper.”

I say that to myself as I put pepper in a dish.

Just thought you might like to know.

Now, for the Greek version, add in your 2 cups of feta and your chopped onion.

Mix that up, and you are good to go!

If you are making the Americanized version, do not add feta or onion. Rather, add in your 2 cups of shredded cheddar.

Mix it up, and you’re done!

Now spread your filling on the phyllo dough and butter bed that you have created.

Remember, I’m making a half-and-halfer so the left is my Greek version and the right is my American.

I guess I should pause for a moment and talk about nutmeg.

At this point, a sprinkle of nutmeg can be added across the entire pan.

I really, really, really don’t like nutmeg.

I have tried.

And tried.

But, to no avail.

I can stomach it in very small amounts in dessert dishes.

And I know that nutmeg enhances the flavor of dark greens.

But I just can’t get on board.

I have tried, and I cannot.

I hate being anything resembling a picky eater, so please if you love or even like nutmeg add it to the dish. I’m sure that if you like the stuff, it does indeed make the dish better.

I feel a weight lifted off of my shoulders with that public nutmeg confession.

To finish off our pie, we need more phyllo and butter.

Don’t you think?

Place one layer on top of the spinach mixture.

Then slather on the butter.

Then, add four more layers.

At the end, you should have five layers of the phyllo and five layers of butter.

Just remember, this is a healthy dish.

You know, because of the spinach.

Cover the pan tightly with foil, and pop it in the oven for 35 minutes.

After 35 minutes, it will look like this:

I think we can do better than that.

Put the pie back in the oven, uncovered, for 10-15.

The goal is to get the pie to a golden brown color.

This would not be a good time to leave the pie completely unattended.

I love when it is perfectly tan on top with some caramelized darker edges.

The corners are my favorite part.

PER-FECT-SHUN.

For a lunch or dinner, cut this in generous squares (using a pizza cutter works really well) when it is fresh out of the oven.

For a party, cut these into triangles and serve on a platter.

Truth be told, I had a cold piece that was a little soggy straight out of the fridge for breakfast over the weekend.

What is wrong with me?

Please do not follow my lead.

Eat this piping hot with the crunchy, crispy, golden, buttery crust.

Happy Birthday to me!

OK, it was three months ago.

But I’m still celebrating.

Lots o’ love,

Leah

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