I’m hesitant to admit this for fear of losing my Greek card, but I have never attempted to make homemade spanakopita (“Greek Spinach Pie,” as some ingrates call it — it isn’t pie and it’s so much more than spinach, my friends). Spanakopita is a staple of Greek cuisine, at least the Greek cuisine served in the U.S., and is often served as an appetizer, although I could easily make a meal out of those crisp, salty, buttery pastry triangles. So, when Nate and I were invited over to a dear friend’s house for dinner last Saturday, I offered to make spanakopita, not really knowing what I was getting myself into.
I, of course, went with Smitten Kitchen’s recipe, which seemed delicious and approachable. Delicious, it definitely was; approachable, uh, not so much. Nothing against Smitten. In fact, I think she did a great job of breaking down the steps in a pretty layman-friendly way. It’s just that spanakopita is not — I repeat, not — an easy dish to make. For anyone familiar with working with phyllo dough, you know why I’m bemoaning this laborious recipe. For those of you who haven’t worked with phyllo, let me just give you some friendly advice: be prepared for the phyllo to rip, tear, and disintegrate while you try to pull it from the package, brush it with butter, cut it, and generally work with it.
Never fear, however, because you’ll find (as I did) that the tears, rips, etc. don’t matter all that much. Because as you layer the sheets, these lacerations will be covered with additional phyllo and mended with butter. So remain calm. And try not to spew four-letter words, unless that’s part of your established cooking process.
All told, I would absolutely make these again. Am I crazy? Probably. But the mingling of feta, spinach, garlic, and green onions baked into a buttery shell tasted amazing and really was worth the effort. So, if I haven’t scared you off already, I hope you’ll try these. Just have a helper to get you through the phyllo dough trials, and you’ll be fine.