Not only do I take inspiration for my cooking from the change of seasons and the farmers’ markets, but I also take inspiration from the area around me. I live in Queens in a neighborhood called Astoria. Astoria is most known for its Greek cuisine, among other ethnic choices. The grocery store next to my apartment sells at least 8 different kinds of feta cheese. So this recipe is inspired by my new Greek ‘hood…Astoria.
Makes 12 servings
1 serving = 5 Points Plus
- 30 oz frozen spinach, defrosted, drained
- 1 large onion, small dice
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ cup dill, minced
- 6 oz feta cheese, crumbled
- 1 oz parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 egg white
- 1 pinch of nutmeg
- 16 sheets of phyllo dough
- non-stick cooking spray (you will use most of this can)
- 2 tbsp butter, melted
I know what you’re thinking. Frozen spinach…really?
The answer is yes. Frozen spinach will save you time, money, and sheer frustration. You’ll need to defrost your spinach first. Place the frozen spinach in large microwavable-safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for at least 10 minutes…maybe more. Check it every so often and stir the spinach to keep the defrosting at an even temperature.
Once all the spinach is defrosted, you’ll need to squeeze out all the water. I like to use kitchen towels, but paper ones will work as well. It also helps to wring it out in batches. You want the spinach to be dry as possible so it doesn’t make your phyllo dough soggy.
While the spinach is defrosting, you can sweat your onions in a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add your garlic after 5 minutes and allow the onions to become soft and translucent. Season with salt and pepper and allow the mixture to cool completely.
Add your onion mixture, dill, feta, parmesan cheese, egg white, and nutmeg to the spinach. Season with salt and pepper and mix thoroughly to combine. Set aside.
You’ll need a 9”x13” glass baking dish. Spray the bottom of the dish with non-stick cooking spray. Make sure you spray the edges all well. Carefully lay sheet one sheet of phyllo dough into the baking dish. Carefully smooth the dough around the edges of the pan. Spray the sheet of phyllo dough with non-stick cooking spray. Lay another sheet of phyllo dough on top of this sheet. Be very gentle and careful…phyllo dough is extremely fragile. Spray this sheet with non-stick cooking spray…and so on and so forth. Keep layering and spraying until you have 8 sheets stacked on top of each other.
Add your spinach mixture on to the phyllo dough “crust” and spread evenly with a spatula. Then layer a piece of phyllo dough over the spinach filling. Spray this sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Add another sheet of phyllo dough on top of this sheet. Spray again with non-stick cooking spray. Continue layering and spraying until you have 8 layers in total. If you have extra phyllo dough hanging off the edges of your baking dish, just fold in the edges to create a border on the outside of the casserole.
Next you want to cut the casserole into 12 equal pieces, you want to cut all the way into the spanakopita but do not cut through the bottom crust. Next, wrap the dish with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator, allow it to chill out for 30 minutes. This will help the spanakopita set up properly and bake evenly.
After 30 minutes, brush the top of the spanakopita with melted butter and then bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 45 minute or until golden brown.
In this recipe renovation I realized that what makes spanakopita unhealthy isn’t necessarily the filling or the phyllo dough but the mass amount of butter that is brushed onto the pastry between every layer. By using cooking spray, you’ll create a lighter version of this Greek classic that won’t weight you down. I guarantee this will be the flakiest, moistest, and most delicious healthy spanakopita you will ever have.