spanikopita triangles

Jump straight to the spanikopita recipe or the steps.

spanikopita

When I was a kid growing up in Monte Sereno, California, we had Greek neighbors. Let’s call them the Constantines. All the Constantines had dark brown eyes and black hair, which, in my world of blond-blue-eyedness, I found beautiful.

At Easter, the family dyed all their Easter eggs red, to signify “God’s blood,” Greg’s older sister Andi told me. Eastern Christian, or Eastern Orthodox Easter does indeed opt for bright red eggs as opposed to the pastel rainbow favored by Western Easter, both secular and religious.

However, in my over-romanticized child’s view of the world, I was sure she said, “the gods’ blood.” I managed to convince myself that the family worshiped all the Greek gods—and since my Greek mythology book was one of my favorites, I thought that was very cool indeed. Those red eggs surely symbolized some exotic ritual that had something to do with pomegranates. It was wildly exciting.

Eating Spanikopita

I didn’t try Greek food until years later, when I lived in Ithaca, NY, for an interesting experiment of a year at Cornell. (I was in the MFA acting program and it didn’t really take, particularly since I got a chance to move to New York City and live in a downtown apartment for $265 a month.) The Greek restaurants—really diners—in Ithaca are wonderful. It was there that I ate spanikopita for the first time.

Between fall of 1983 and the following spring, many a helping of spanikopita was had by me in this very location.

Greek diner spanikopita tends to come in a big pan, kind of like lasagna with filo. Fun fact: Filo (or phyllo, depending on which box you buy) and strudel are basically the same thing. Why?, you may ask. Well, think about geography. The Austrian-Hungarian empire went pretty far east; Turkey and Greece, as you can see, are not that far to the south.

Those inventive cooks and bakers who transformed a handful of flour, water, and fat into a Nerf-ball-sized lump of dough, which they then rolled out to about the size of a bed sheet, inspired and probably taught the Magyars, Serbs, Croats, and Bulgarians how to make the same stuff. Next time you tuck into a crispy, shattery apple strudel, realize it could just as well be spinach and feta cheese, or honey and pistachio nuts between those layers.

By the way, you can use this same recipe to make the lasagna-esque version of spanikopita. Still, I prefer these little triangles, which are only a little time consuming, and otherwise easy. And while it helps to have a decent size counter to work on, I have made these in tiny NYC kitchens. So it can be done.

Here’s how.

Making Spanikopita

  • Take a package of frozen spinach, thaw it, and squeeze the hell out of it, until it’s as dry as possible. I always use thawed frozen spinach. The volume of raw spinach necessary to cook down to 10 ounces takes up a ton of room in the fridge.
spanikopita-squeeze
  • Chop scallions, dill, and parsley. Add to a bowl with the squeezed-dry spinach. Mix in one egg, a pinch of salt, a sprinkle of nutmeg, and 4-6 ounces of crumbled feta. Naturally, the better quality the feta, the yummier this will be.
spanikopita mix
  • Melt about a stick of butter and have a pastry brush ready. (If you use coconut oil instead, you will have a cracklier spanikopita, which may be fine for you.) Line a counter-top the size of a cookie sheet with parchment. You can work directly on your baking sheet if you want, but it will have some butter on it afterward, and that could smoke up your oven.
  • As lightly as possible, brush the sheet with butter, then lay down your first sheet of filo. Brush that lightly with butter, lay down another sheet, until you have 3 sheets.
  • Put a heaping tablespoon of filling at the top of the sheet. Then repeat so you have four tablespoons going across the sheet.
spanikopita
  • Take a sharp paring knife and cut rows down the length of the sheet.
a
  • Fold one corner of the sheet over in a triangle, the way you’re supposed to fold a flag. Just keep flipping, until….voila.
This format was an experiment; next time, I won’t be shooting in portrait.
  • Repeat, then repeat the whole exercise until you run out of filling.
  • When you’re done, brush the tops of completed triangles with butter. You can either freeze them in layers. Or you can bake the spanikopita in a preheated 350º oven for about 12-15 minutes. They should be nicely golden.

Spanikopita are, to my mind, the absolutely perfect Easter meal appetizer. But they are really pretty darn wonderful any time of year. Just hunker down, do the work, and feel safe and secure that you have a store of yum in your freezer for the next 6 months. You probably won’t need a reminder to eat them.

The Recipe

Print Recipe
Spanikopita Triangles
Delicious, herby spanikopita triangles features a lush feta-spiked filling and are easy to make and store in the freezer for a yummy savory appetizer or soup go-with.
spanikopita triangles
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Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
triangles
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
triangles
spanikopita triangles
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Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
  1. Take the frozen spinach out of the package and put it in a colander to thaw. When thawed, squeeze out all liquid, either pressing with the back of a spoon or squeezing with your hands.
  2. Mix the thawed, squeezed spinach in a bowl with the egg white, dill, scallions, and feta cheese.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375º. Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan. Cover a working surface with parchment paper. Brush the parchment very lightly with butter, then lay the first sheet carefully on top. Dab butter on the sheet with the brush, lay on another sheet, repeat, and layer on one more sheet. Cover the unused filo sheets with plastic wrap.
  4. Gather spinach mixture into a ball about the size of a ping pong ball and place on the shorter edge of the filo sheets closest to you. Repeat until you have 4 balls (see photo above). Take a very sharp knife and cut the filo the long way 3 times, to have 4 individual long strips with a spinach ball on one end.
  5. Flip the corner of one strip closest to a spinach ball over to form a triangle. Folding like a flag, continue turning down the length of the strip, ending in a filo triangle. Brush with butter, and set on a parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat. Repeat all steps until you have used all the filling.
  6. Bake the finished trials in the oven for 20 minutes. If desired, for additional browning, brush a light coating of olive oil on tops of triangles after first 10 minutes of baking for additional browning.
  7. Alternatively, uncooked triangles can be frozen on sheet pan uncovered, then bagged and stored in the freezer. To prepare, place directly from freezer onto a parchment-covered baking sheet and in a 400º oven for 20 minutes.
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