Spanakopita Strudels

spanakopita streudel

I am Greek. I did not, however, grow up in a family like the one portrayed in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. My mother did not pack me “mouss-ka-ka” for lunch. My aunt never chased me around with a roasted lamb’s eyeball. And I never felt pressure to marry a nice Greek boy nor to become a Greek baby-breeding machine.

But I do have about 50 uncles named Nicky. And my aunt’s vegetarian chili does contain lamb. And many family celebrations do culminate in circular dances stepped to the rhythm of Macedonian folk music. And every woman in my family does make it her mission to feed everyone around her till the day she dies.

Greek food is comfort food for me, and yet, if you searched the recipe archive of my blog, you’d never know it. You’d never know that before my mother comes to visit, I request she make a spanakopita, and that once she’s here, keftedes (lamb meatballs), and that before she departs, kourabiedes (powdered-sugar almond cookies).

In preparation for Easter, I’ve started brushing up on a few of my favorite Greek recipes, starting with spanakopita. Here I’ve halved my family’s recipe, which fills a 10×13-inch roasting pan with enough spanakopita to feed a large family for weeks, and made 10 strudels instead — isn’t everything more delicious when baked in small packages? In strudel form, spanakopita assumes an almost breakfast croissant-like character, a perfect bundle of flaky pastry, egg, cheese, and greens. Yum.

Over the next few weeks, as my Easter menu — spanakopita, keftedes, tzatziki, and olive bread — comes together, I hope the all-but-absent Greek category on this blog starts gaining a presence. I’ll be sure to keep you posted. Happy spring everyone.

spanakopita streudel

spanakopita ingredients

filling

When making spanakopita, don’t be tempted to brush each layer with butter. If you spoon a few teaspoons of butter over each layer, the resulting pastry will be lighter and flakier.
spanakopita assembly

streudels, unbaked

Spanakopita Strudels
Yield = 9 to 10

10oz. baby spinach
8 oz. cottage cheese (small curd)
12 oz. feta
5 eggs, beaten

1 box fillo dough,* thawed (I let mine sit out at room temperature for a few hours, but you could thaw this in the fridge overnight as well.)

1 1/2 sticks butter (gasp! melted)

*Fillo comes in all shapes and sizes these days. The variety I can find, Athens brand, weighs 1 pound and contains two 8-oz bags of 20 sheets each measuring 9 x 14-inches. This size sheet is perfect for strudels. If your fillo comes in the larger sheets, cut it in half so that it’s roughly 9 x 14-inches. (Don’t cut the fillo until you’re ready to assemble. See step 4 below.) If you’re making a large pan of spanakopita, this small size of fillo is kind of pain — use two sheets per layer.

1. In three batches, place spinach in food process and pulse until just roughly chopped. Place in a large bowl.

2. Add cottage cheese, feta cheese (break this into pieces as you add it to the bowl) and eggs. Use a spatula to stir it all up.

3. Set up your work station: A large cutting board is helpful (see picture below). I use a 1/2 cup measuring cup to measure out the filling. You need a teaspoon (like one you eat cereal with not a measuring teaspoon) to spoon butter onto the fillo dough and you need a brush to brush butter onto the assembled strudels. Line a sheetpan with parchment paper and set aside.

4. Open up the box of fillo. If your fillo is like mine — in that it comes in two sealed bags — open up one bag and unroll it. Place it next to your cutting board. Fillo dries out quickly, so if you need to step away from your assembly process, be sure to gently re-roll it or fold it up and place it in a ziplock bag. If you are working with the larger sheets, cut them in half to roughly measure 9 x 14-inches. Place half (about 20 sheets) in a ziplock bag.

5. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Place one sheet of fillo on your cutting board or work surface. Spoon three teaspoons (again, an eating spoon vs. a measuring spoon) of the melted butter over the layer of fillo (see picture above in the upper-left corner of the montage). Note: You do not have to brush it or make sure that every bit of the dough is covered with butter. The finished spanakopita is actually lighter when you don’t brush the dough with butter. Top with another layer of fillo. Spoon three more teaspoons of butter over the areas of this layer that were not covered in the previous. Top with one more layer of fillo and again spoon over three teaspoons of butter.

6. Using your 1/2-cup measuring cup, scoop out a level 1/2-cup filling and place on fillo about 2-inches from the bottom (see photo above). Pull bottom of fillo overtop of this filling. Fold sides in. Then, fold this bottom portion up and over itself and keep folding till you’ve made a little parcel. Place this parcel seam side down on your parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush top with butter. Repeat with remaining fillo and filling.

Note: I made 9 strudels, but I think I could get 10 next time around if I portion out a scant 1/2-cup versus a level 1/2-cup. Unfortunately, I had to open up my second bag of fillo and only used half of the sheets. I re-froze (not sure if this is a good idea) the remaining sheets for a future use, but if you’re feeling creative, you might be able to find a fun use for these remaining sheets. If I come up with something, I will report back.

7. Bake strudels for 30 to 45 minutes or until nice and golden brown on top. Mine baked for a little over 40 minutes but I started checking them at the 30-minute mark. Cool briefly and serve.

spanakopita assembly

Update: 7-17-2012: Full-size spanakopita for your reference. This was from this past Easter:
full-size spanakopita

full-size spanakopita

Large Spanakopita

2 10oz. pkg of baby spinach or 3 6oz pkgs (about 20 oz total)
16 oz. cottage cheese (small curd)
3 8-oz. pkgs feta (24 oz. total)
10 eggs (well beaten)

1 pkg fillo dough (20-28 layers)

3 sticks butter (gasp! melted)

1. Chop up baby spinach — you can do this very quickly in the food processor. Just do a rough chop.

2. In a large bowl, combine the spinach, cottage cheese, feta cheese (break this into pieces) and eggs. You can whisk this all together or use a spatula.

3. Butter the bottom and sides of a large roasting pan. Use about two sheets of fillo per layer — they’ll overlap a little bit, but you need about two to cover the surface of the pan. In between each layer, spoon three teaspoons (an eating spoon vs. a measuring spoon) of the butter over the layer of fillo. You don’t have to brush it or make sure that every bit of the dough is covered with butter. The finished spanakopita is actually lighter when you don’t brush the dough with butter. Depending on how many layers of dough your box of fillo has, layer half of the number of sheets in the pan to form the bottom layer of the spanakopita. Pour the filling over top. Repeat layering the fillo dough on top of the filling with butter in between each layer until you are out of dough. Brush the top layer with butter. Bake at 350ºF for 1 hour.

Comments

  1. says

    Hi!
    When i saw this recipe, i remembered the wonderful flavour this strudels have (i was in Greece last year, and i just loved them).
    I have to tell you, that i visit a lot of food blogs everyday ’cause i want to learn more & more about food photography, and i fell in love with yours at first sight.
    I’m gonna explore it and see if you have some Baclava recipe. ;)
    Keep up with the wonderful blogging, and thanks for being a great inspiration to my food photography.
    *
    http://tapasnalingua.blogspot.com

  2. says

    I´ve been thinking about spanakopita for the last month. We here have pie called Pascualina (Pascua=Easter) that´s basically spinach, onion, eggs, ricotta and parmesan. More italian than greek since it´s made with tart dough, usually double crust. Anyway, your post is terrific with the strudel idea. Hope to try to make it soon. Love it

  3. wanda says

    These look like fun! I’ve seen spanakopita on menus before but wasn’t sure what was in it, and chicken that I am, declined to order it. Nothing scary in these so they are on my list to try – thank you for sharing!

  4. pvl says

    yum – going to try this tomorrow.

    Question: cottage cheese? Is this what “real greeks” use when making spaniko*

    :-)

    (seriously – I’d like to know if there is a different “traditional” mixture of feta and … but I will try it this way)

    Peter

    • says

      Peter — I asked myself the same question as I typed up the recipe last night. This is seriously the recipe that my grandmother used that she got from her mother who was from Greece. But I’m going to call my mother right now. There must be some other “farmers” or fresh cheese that was used in place of the cottage cheese. I have a feeling cottage cheese was used because the “real” ingredient wasn’t available at the time, but these days, you can find anything. Will report back on this. I hope the strudels come out well for you!

    • says

      Peter — My mother says that the “real Greeks” use a soft sheep milk cheese the texture of ricotta called myzithra not to be confused with dry/hard myzithra (kind of like the difference between ricotta and ricotta salata).

  5. Wendos says

    Wow, these look wonderful. Thanks. I’ll be trying this out soon. As soon as I think spinach and feta, though, I have to add lemon zest and pepper. I don’t think I’ll be able to resist the urge to add these to your recipe! Can’t help myself. I’m sure a fresh yoghurt based home made cheese, like a labne, could be substituted for the ricotta for those inclined to look for something other than ricotta?

    • says

      Wendos — lemon zest sounds lovely! I just responded to Peter’s comment below, but my mother says that the Greeks use a cheese called myzithra in place of the cottage cheese. I haven’t used labne before — how thick is it? That sounds like a nice idea.

  6. pvl says

    thank you – just got these babies in the oven! We are going to eat some tonight, and then freeze a couple for my newly vegetarian 11yr old daughter’s school lunch.

    Yum!

  7. says

    if you can squeeze Darcy and Rob in then I’m guessing you have room for Zach and I! We’re currently planning on heading to Italy, but perhaps it’s not too late to change our plans.

    I love hearing about your Easter feast! These strudels sound/look incredible, and I’ve already added them to my ever growing whats-for-dinner google document.

    The ‘how-to-wrap’ sequence of photos is wonderful, love it! Happy Easter cooking!

    • says

      Megan, I wish I knew! I’m planning on making these for Easter — I’m hosting 8 adults total — and am thinking about preparing them ahead of time and storing them in the freezer until the day of, but I’m kind of worried. I might not have an answer for you until Easter itself. If I don’t get around to preparing them ahead of time, I might freeze one on Easter Sunday and bake it off later in the week. I’ll report back. Sorry I can’t be more helpful at the moment!

  8. says

    I grew up on spanakopita although I’m not Greek, many restaurants in my hometown were Greek. I’m looking at your photo and drooling. I’m now wondering how would a ravioli taste with this filling. I just made some homemade pasta and the dough is resting. Another thought would be using this filling for crepes. But your crispy packaging would be my number one choice.

  9. Sunie says

    We had a late Easter with our daughter two days ago. She is a vegetarian which sometimes makes menu planning a challenge. I made your strudels which were a real hit! I did add some sautéed onion to the mixture which we liked. My mixture was a little too eggy so the strudels oozed egg during baking. But these are so good, and impressive too. Fillo is much easier to work with than anyone would think. Thanks Alexandra!

    • says

      Sunie — I’m so happy to hear this! Egg always oozes from several of my strudels, too — even when I feel I’ve been careful about sealing and when I’ve placed them seam side down. Alas, it doesn’t seem to affect the flavor. Hope you had a wonderful Easter!

  10. The happy innkeeper says

    These were great I made them for breakfast for our guests. Elegant yummy and healthy, thanks do much from the inn on Poplar Hill in Orange Virginia

    • says

      The Happy Innkeeper — This makes me so happy! Thanks so much for writing in. Your Inn looks absolutely beautiful. I think my husband and I need to get away for a weekend. We’re just about an hour from you. Fun! So glad the strudels were a success!

  11. says

    Wonderful recipe! I would like to try it adding to the baby spinach some wild garlic ( chttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramsons ) and some pepper.
    You have an amazing blog: great recipes and wonderful food photography mixed with native talent and love.Congratulations!

    Cosmin

  12. Maria says

    Hi Alexandra! I’m preparing this recipe your way for tonight’s dinner however being Greek myself I wanted to clear everyone’s suspicions about the proper choice of cheese. Even though I’m pretty sure your grandmother and mother have been rocking the spanakopita trend for many years, in Greece we either use mizithra (in both versions; the soft-not-very-salty but also the harder-but-salty one) or feta (pure yumminess) in spanakopita. There is no such thing as cottage cheese in traditional greek cuisine or ricotta which is totally italian. Nowadays we use ingredients depending on our individual taste of course but traditionally speaking you have to add a greek cheese to achieve the real thing! Take care! Love from Athens xxx

  13. says

    Maria — I wish I could come visit in Athens. I still have one relative there, and my mother in fact is going to visit on June 16th. I’m so jealous!

    I need to make a note about the mizithra. If you scroll up through the comments, you’ll see that Peter (comment 7) asked what “real Greeks” would use in place of cottage cheese, and I responded (after asking my mother) that they would in fact use mizithra (comment 11). Thank you for confirming! I wish I could find mizithra here. My local grocery stores don’t have the best cheese selections unfortunately.

  14. Maria says

    Hi Alexandra! I wish you could come to Athens; in that case we’d have the chance to meet! I read all the comments of this post (I always do; you have some great followers here!) but I still felt like giving a fresh view on such a “sizzling matter” of a modern Greek amateur cook. I hope you didn’t mind… However if you desperately need greek mizithra, I could maybe send you a piece of original cretan dry mizithra which is great on pasta as well!

    • says

      Maria — You are too nice to offer to send me some mizithra! I cannot have you do that. There is a great cheese shop in DC that I’m going to check out for some mizithra. My mother is in Greece right now visiting relatives. I am so jealous. Love the idea of using mizithra with pasta. Thanks!

  15. Angela says

    This recipe looks amazing, but I was wondering if you could give me the adjusted directions for making the larger, more traditional casserole style rather than the strudels. I have been hunting for an authentic and manageable recipe for ages and am really looking forward to trying this!

    • says

      Angela — hi! I have been meaning to do this since Easter. Thanks so much for giving me the inspiration to actually update the post. I have added a couple of photos (no process photos unfortunately) and the recipe for the large pan. Hope that helps!

  16. Callie says

    Just saw your post and your spanakpita looks great. I make this all the time and add a few more ingrediants. I add scallions, onions and dill and a pince of nutmug. Also spanakopita freezes well and can be baked frozen; no thawing needed. Look foward in reading more of your recipes. Kale orexe!

    • says

      Callie — love the idea of scallions and onions and nutmeg. Yum! I should make a note in the recipe about freezing — you are right, spanakopita freezes beautifully. Thanks for writing in!

  17. Sarah says

    Heyyy Alexandra!
    I just wanted u to know that I had been looking through some pins, on pinterest, and when I saw a picture of these, I literally screamed and came right to the linked website for the recipe! Planning on making these little masterpieces tomorrow night! :)
    I’m sure they will be great! So excited!!! Keep up the good work! :D
    <3 sarah

  18. says

    I will have to agree with Sarah… i am dying to try this out. My only problem is that i live in india, so we do not get fillo dough, so I’ll have to make the dough from scratch. Any idea how to?

    Suhaya

    • says

      Anne-Marie — I have frozen the strudels unbaked, and they bake off just fine, but I haven’t been able to get them as golden when they are baked from the freezer. The flavor is great, but the color is just not there. I haven’t tried to hard to fix the color issue, but I imagine you could brush them with butter in the last five minutes to help increase the browning. Just a thought.

    • says

      Rebekah — it doesn’t! My family has never cooked the spinach first and it always comes out without any moisture issues. We do always use baby spinach — not sure if that makes a difference. Side note, I used to think you had to sauté greens for quiche to avoid the moisture issues you are worrying about. Not the case. I learned from the Tartine cookbook that you can add raw greens like kale, spinach, etc., right into the unbaked quiche. It is delicious! I never sauté greens for quiche anymore.

  19. LeeAnn says

    OMG…This is so me and my sister but we did kinda have the ” The Big Fat Greek wedding” life without the greek school. Our mom past away when I was 16 but the rest of the family kept the Greek culter alive. My sister and I just had our “Greek Day” my sister made the Meatballs – Used veal insted of lamb and I made the spinach pie. I do use frozen and we add scallions. Instead of folding them like you do I make flags. Im so happy the you posted this!!

    • says

      LeeAnn — thanks so much for sharing your Greek Day! Sounds wonderful as well as delicious. I’m curious about the flag shape? Can you describe a little more? Sounds beautiful!

  20. says

    made these using kale from the garden instead of spinach. so awesome!
    my kids ate them up without complaining about eating kale… also used fresh eggs from our chickens. thank you for this recipe… super yummy!

  21. Vicky says

    We love spanakopita around here. I usually make it in a casserole dish. The flag shapes, or triangles, are very time consuming. I also like the bundles that you made. Thanks.

  22. says

    Alexandra—Wow these look great! Saw them pinned on PInterest and followed that link back here. Are interested in entering them (or any original recipe you prefer) in our first ever Food Blogger Recipe Contest? Details are on our Facebook page here: http://on.fb.me/PGNLSj

  23. Jaimee says

    I have made these twice now and they are AH-MAZING. Even my husband who was indifferent even when I showed him the crispy, melty, picture of what I was going to make, was drooling over his first bite. He then proceeded to tell me that the rest were eaten by our “eldest” dog Isabelle who magically learned to open the fridge and pull out the tupperware container that held these delicious gems. I can attest that they do freeze, but freeze them in individual baggies as they will stick together. Mine got a little juicy and wanted to fall apart before I baked them, but nothing tragic has happened yet and they are like flaky, crunchy, RICH hot pockets of magic. Just sayin. ;-)

    • says

      Jaimee, you are too funny. I am so happy to hear that you like these strudels. We love them hear as well, and your idea about freezing in individual baggies is a good one. I am going to have to get back to you about the calories. My only thought would be to add up (manually) all of the calories of all of the ingredients and then divide them by the number of strudels you make per batch. This will obviously be a rough estimate since every batch has varying amounts of butter, but it will be nearly accurate. I’ll get back to you. So happy you like these!

  24. Jaimee says

    Also, how can I find out how many calories are in these? I count calories and I would like to be able to add these to my food tracker!

    • says

      Allison, I still haven’t opened it. I have a feeling it’s a mess — my freezer is the worst. I shouldn’t have been so lazy and walked it downstairs to our free-standing freezer, which definitely would have preserved it much better. Maybe I’ll take a peak at it this weekend. I will report back for sure.

  25. traciemacie says

    Jamie, myfitnesspal.com has a recipe ‘calculator’. You input the ingredients & numbr of servings & it tells you the calories per serving.

  26. Donna says

    I use any leftover fillo to make little triangle tarts. I use four buttered layers and then cut them into 4ths. I spoon 1 tablespoon of jam. After I fold them, I brush with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. So easy! Bake 10-15 minutes till golden.

    I am really looking forward to making these spinach strudels this week. I’ve always made triangles and cooked the spinach. Definitely going to try it your way this time! (My mother was born in Athens, but her family is from Cyprus)

  27. Paula says

    Hi, love this recipe….Greek food is to die for. Your blog is amazing…looking forward to trying out more than a few of your recipes

  28. says

    Hi Alexandra, I made these last weekend after stumbling across a picture of these strudels on pinterest and they were just fanastic! I’m a sucker for the spinach and feta combo but have never made anything using them until this, and I can’t believe how easy it was to rustle up a batch of these strudels. Thank you for sharing!

    I hope you don’t mind but I blogged making them (again this weekend, much to Hubby’s delight!) with Brit-friendly measures under my tried & tested tag, with a credit back to you and your blog :)

    • says

      Fifi — This is fantastic! How wonderful of you to provide Brit-friendly measurements. I love your detailed post. And you added the butter so perfectly! It made me so happy to see your post, I can’t tell you. Hope you are enjoying the weekend. Side note: Call the Midwife is finally airing over here. LOVE it!

  29. LoveSweetButter says

    Someone mentioned not being able to get a nicely browned top when they bake the filo.

    Have you tried brushing the top with milk or egg and milk whisked together?

  30. LoveSweetButter says

    Just made your strudels. Yummmmm! Thanks so very much for sharing this recipe! It was wonderful. I’m going to try to make bite sized strudels next time. They would make terrific hot hors d’oeuvres.

    I followed your directions to a T and everything turned out as it should have. Though i patted the spinach dry and strained the cottage cheese to minimize the water in the filling.

    They took almost twice as long to bake in my Frigidaire oven than the recipe suggests.

    Things I will try next time:

    – add salt and pepper to the filling
    – brush the top with an egg/milk wash to give the strudels a nice shiny top

    This is definitely a recipe I will make again and again.

    Thanks!

    • says

      LSB — thanks for sharing your results. I am sure others will find your tips very helpful. Love the idea of making bite-sized versions for hors d’ouevres. I have in fact made them in the same fashion as the tiropitas — small cheese-filled triangles and they are always a hit: http://www.alexandracooks.com/2012/04/06/tiropitas/

      I’ve been dying to try the strudels with other fillings as well, like mushrooms and caramelized onions with some sort of cheese? I’m going to start experimenting. Thanks again for writing in!

    • says

      Jan — I have not used ricotta, but I think you definitely could. I think one commenter did this in fact because she didn’t like cottage cheese. If you are wary of cottage cheese, just know that it doesn’t taste like cottage cheese in the finished product — you honestly wouldn’t even know it was in there. That said, definitely use the cheese you prefer. This mixture can be tailored to your preferences.

  31. Nicole says

    Thank you! I’ve been looking for this recipe for a long time! I’m not Greek but I’m from New Orleans and we love food (I love all kinds of food). I can’t wait to try this!

    • says

      Jessica — I use three sheets for each little packet. Now, I made a note of this in the recipe, but I can only find the boxes of fillo dough that come in two smaller packs — does that make sense? If you buy the large sheets, but them in half, and then use three of the half sheets. Hope that makes sense. Let me know if you have any other questions about this. I’m dying to make a mushroom-onion-cheese filled variation of this.

      • Mena says

        Your website makes me hungry!! Can’t wait to try your soups.

        Just wanted to add if you have a Wegmans food store they carry their brand of Phyllo (fillo) in smaller boxes. I am trying their brand today wish me luck ,also I am adding spinach to your tiropita recipe. Nothing like experimenting, with 26 people coming for a 90th Bday for Mom.

        Are you there help?

        • says

          You are brave! I wish I could help you! Where do you live?

          Great tip on the wegmans phyllo — thanks!

          Spinach will be delicious in the tiropitas. You can also just use the spanakopita mix here — I would make a much smaller quantity — and make triangles with it.

          Let me know if you have any other questions!

  32. Hunny Kidd says

    Would it be alright to include some type of meat to this mixture? I was thinking maybe grilled chicken? What do you advise?
    This looks fabulous, and I can’t wait to try it. You are the first one I’ve seen use cottage cheese in a hot recipe. My father used to use it in his chili pie. I was like a Mexican lasagna. I sure do miss his cooking.

    • says

      Hunny Kid — definitely! Just add whatever meat you like best. Grilled chicken sounds great, but really anything from ground hamburger to ground lamb to steak sounds good — spinach and cheese complement so many meats nicely. Love the sound of your dad’s chili pie. What a nice memory to hold on to.

  33. Melissa says

    I have made spanikopita and trigona before and I use the triangle folding method for both. I make them ahead of time and par-bake them; let them cool and then freeze them. I then just pull them out of the freezer when I get hungry for them or want an appetizer for company. They are so delicious, thanks for sharing.

  34. Sterling says

    Do you think it would work as well with ricotta cheese? I don’t have feta, but I have ricotta and all of the other ingredients at home.

    • says

      Sterling — I can’t say for sure because I’ve never tried it, but I think ricotta will work nicely. Because ricotta is not quite as salty as feta, you might want to add a pinch of salt to the spinach-cheese mixture. Let me know how it turns out — I’d be curious to know. I think some of the texture of the filling might be lost because ricotta is creamier than feta, but I don’t think this is a big deal. Good luck with it!

  35. Sterling says

    It turned out really well :) Everybody went for seconds! The ricotta made it quite creamy which was nice. But I want to try it with feta now so that I can compare the texture. Thanks for the recipe!

    • says

      Sterling — thanks so much for reporting back! I’m so glad they were well received, and it’s good to know that ricotta can be used in place of the feta. I think a lot of people will appreciate that tip. Thanks!

  36. Jaimee says

    It’s funny, I just read the last few comments about the ricotta and I was thinking to myself this morning (as I was contemplating my monthly making of this treat) if I could replace the COTTAGE CHEESE with ricotta! Hmmmm. Anyway, I had asked months ago about the calorie information on this little gem and I found out by entering the recipe in myfitnesspal.com. Using low fat cottage cheese, butter substitute, and fat free feta in this recipe, and having it yield 9 strudels, your caloric count per strudel is 362, 47g carbs, 10g fat, 20g protein, 3g fiber, and 4g sugar. For anyone who was interested. Most of this fat comes from good sources, except for what’s in the dough, but we all knew that anyway lol. If only I could keep myself from eating 4 of them!

    Like I said earlier, I make this recipe once a month and only bake a few at a time for my husband and I, and freeze the rest. In case anyone missed my previous comment, when wrapped individually in saran wrap or in sandwhich bags, these freeze beautifully!

    I love your blog and this recipe!

    I’m going to try the ricotta trick!

    • says

      Jaimee — Thanks so much for this nice comment and wonderful information — lots of people seem to be interested in a cottage cheese substitution, and calorie info is always (maybe not always) welcomed information for people, especially when these, or your healthful variation of these, turn out to be really quite light! Thank you for that. Now, how can you help us all from eating 4 at a time? :) You are funny. Love the freezer tip, too. What a great food to have on hand! Thanks again for this nice follow-up comment!

  37. Velma says

    Can you prepare the packets and refrigerate them … to be cooked just before company comes over so they are warm?

    I have so many ideas floating around in my head about different things to try – ricotta and pineapple or apple, adding meat (like suggested before), etc.

    Can’t wait to try these … running out to grocery store this morning :)

    • says

      Velma — yes, definitely. I would be sure to brush the top layer with butter extra well, so that they don’t dry out in the the fridge and definitely cover your sheet pan or plate or whatever you are storing them on in the fridge with plastic wrap. Also, I wouldn’t store them in the fridge for more than 8 hours or so, but you can stick them in the freezer for a much longer period of time. Wrap each parcel individually in plastic wrap. Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions.

  38. Anne says

    I can’t wait to try this recipe. I lived in Greece as a child and LOVE the food. Would like a recipe for the stuffed grape leaves if you have one.

  39. Eula says

    In answer to Sterling’s ? re subing Ricotta cheese for the feta…..Ricotta and cottage cheese are interchangeable, so you would not want to use both in the same recipe & leave out another cheese such as the feta. You could easily sub provolone or mozzarella for the feta, but you need to use either ricotta or cottage…but not both. Hope this helps.

  40. Clare says

    I grew up with my Greek girlfriend, Stella, who passed along a Greek pastry recipe for karthidopida (sp?) it was made with zwieback baby teething cookies, walnuts, honey and more. What can I substitute for the zwieback cookies which are discontinued? PS can’t wait to try your spanakopita!

  41. Kristen says

    Hi Alexandra…the packets are in the oven cooking as I type….but, um, we seem to have a little problem….there is a lighting-green ooze coming from them…has this happened to you ever? Wondering if I used too much butter? I used more than you did because I ran out when using the teaspoon….any insight? Here’s to hoping we don’t have to call the fire department because of my smoking oven……

    Thanks!

    • says

      Kristen — oh no! I am truly hoping you didn’t have to call the fire department. I don’t think too much butter is the issue, because that would ooze out on the clear side. It sounds as though the packages may not have been sealed/wrapped properly? How many layers of filo did you use per package? And did you use only 1/2 cup of filling per strudel? It sounds as though they may have been a little overfilled? Just trying to think. Let me know, and I’ll keep brainstorming!

  42. jmethner says

    Can these be served at room temperature? They would be great to send with my daughter for lunch.

    • says

      J — they can be served at room temperature, and they taste great at room temperature, but I would say to do this only on the day they are baked. After a day in the fridge, they really need to be reheated briefly for the best results. I hope that makes sense.

  43. tess says

    What a beautiful recipe and the shots are brilliant!
    Spanakopita has been a favourite of mine for years. Love mum’s recipe which uses a mixture of feta and ricotta, so can attest that ricotta is definitely fine to use!
    Can I ask; why do you recommend avoiding brushing the filo sheets with butter? That’s always the method I employ and I’m just wondering what difference spooning the butter on has?

  44. tess says

    What a beautiful recipe and the shots are brilliant!
    Spanakopita has been a favourite of mine for years. Love mum’s recipe which uses a mixture of feta and ricotta, so can attest that ricotta is definitely fine to use!
    Can I ask; why do you recommend avoiding brushing the filo sheets with butter? That’s always the method I employ and I’m just wondering what difference spooning the butter on has?
    Also, I don’t know if it’s because I use ricotta and the fact that I love biting through chunky pieces of feta, but I actually prefer mine cold, straight out of the fridge!

  45. Anne says

    These are in the oven now. I have to say I’m a huge fan of the drizzle method for the butter! I usually get frustrated quickly with the pastry brush and then it’s all downhill! Anyway, I made these and they were easy and looked perfect going into the oven. I just checked through the door (25 minutes into cooking) and they are sitting in a puddle of butter! Did I do something wrong? I squeezed the spinach and only used 4 eggs, so it shouldn’t be liquid from the filling. Help!

    • says

      SO sorry it has taken me a few days to get back to you! I was away for a week with the kids, and I’m just catching up now. Ok, butter definitely seeps from these packets, both from the butter added in the layering process and from the filo dough itself. How did they turn out in the end? Sometimes it looks worse halfway through than when it’s completely finished cooking. Also, did you use frozen spinach? I ask only because you said you squeezed the spinach. I don’t think that is the issue, but I am curious only because I’ve never made these with frozen spinach.

  46. Marianne says

    I don’t like feta – would substituting mozzerella be ok? What about adding a dash of nutmeg to go with the spinach? Thanks

  47. says

    Ever since I traveled to Greece as a child, I have been a Spanikopita ADDICT. And oh my gosh, these were so good! I love the cottage cheese in the filling, and that they are individually portioned!

  48. Suzette says

    Okay, I have a question. Some recipes call for puff pastry and others call for fillo dough (I’m not talking about spanakopita recipes specifically). This has always confused me. Is there a difference? I’m assuming there is but I want to be sure because I’d like to make this and want to make sure I get the right ingredients.

    • says

      Hi Suzette,

      Yes, there is a difference. Puff Pastry, which is often sold frozen as well, is a yeasted (I believe) dough that has been laminated with butter (folded and rolled, folded and rolled, etc.) to create many many light flaky layers in the finished dough. It puffs when it bakes hence the name. Fillo on the other hand is sold in thin individual sheets all stacked on top of one another in a roll. When you use fillo, you use olive oil or butter in between each layer, which adds flavor, keeps the dough from drying out, and also creates layers of flakiness. Fillo is what is typically used in spanakopita. Let me know if there is anything else.

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