This savory Greek style pie is traditionally, #spinachandfeta. Getting Steve to eat something that only has spinach and cheese in it is impossible, so I thought I’d add some sweet Italian sausage to the mix. This recipe can totally be a vegetarian dish by just leaving out the meat. You could even substitute some mushrooms to give that meaty flavor if you wanted. Now dealing with phyllo dough may have you saying, that’s too much work, yes, it can seem a bit overwhelming, but not hard at all. I’m going to show you how using this recipe and that it really can be fun.
First let’s talk about the spinach. I use the frozen leafy spinach not the chopped version. I’m making this with sausage in this recipe, so the amount of spinach is less than if you were only making it with spinach. Let me explain, I’m using 3 boxes of the frozen spinach for this recipe. If you were doing this totally vegetarian, than use 8 small boxes. I believe they come in 8-10 ounce boxes. Next is to thaw the spinach and get as much of the water out as possible. This I do the night before. The picture above shows the spinach sitting in a strainer over a bowl, where the liquid slowly drips into the bowl. I leave the spinach out on the counter overnight because it’s frozen solid. The next day I remove the bowl and get rid of the liquid and then I use my hands to wring out the spinach and get even more of any remaining water out. If you were going to do this in the same day, I would defrost the spinach in the microwave, then let it cool enough where you could handle it, and squeeze the water out by hand. You could even place all the spinach in a clean kitchen towel and wring it out that way too. The most important thing is just to get as much of the water out as you can.
To start the rest of the filling I have some diced onion, minced garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, grated fresh nutmeg, and Kosher salt. In a dry large saute pan, on med high heat, I add in two pounds of sweet Italian sausage out of their casing. I break it up with a wooden spoon. After the sausage has a nice color on it, about 10-15 minutes or so, I throw in the onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, grated nutmeg, and Kosher salt. I let this saute for a few minutes until the onions and garlic have softened and they’ve flavored the sausage. Now I remove the sausage with a slotted spoon to leave out any extra fat they may have been released from the sausage cooking. I add the spinach to the bowl. Let the sausage mixture cool down just a bit before adding in the cheese and beaten eggs.
So at this point, in another bowl, I add 3 large eggs that I’m going to beat with a little Kosher salt and black pepper. Now I add the beaten eggs to the sausage and spinach mixture. Next the cheese. I’m using a good Feta and Goat cheese for this recipe. I crumble in the Goat cheese but the Feta I cut into cubes. I throw all this into the bowl and gently stir together, not to break up the cheese too much. So now the filling is done, on to the Phyllo dough.
The most important thing when working with Phyllo, is to let it thaw in the frig over night before using. Also this is the type of dough,you want to work quickly so the dough doesn’t crack and break on you. It’s very fragile. As you can see in the first picture I lay the sheets out with the wrapper underneath and then I cover the whole pile with a damp towel to keep the sheets nice and moist. In my baking dish, I spray the bottom with non-stick cooking spray before laying down the first sheet. My dish is a 9 x 13 and the sheets are 9 x 14 which works how pretty great. After laying the first sheet down in the bottom of the baking dish I brush the sheet with unsalted melted butter. Next I sprinkle some seasoned Italian bread crumbs all over the sheet. Then I lay down the next sheet over that one, and repeat this method. Uncovering the towel each time I grab a new Phyllo dough sheet, then covering them back up. For this recipe It takes one complete box of Phyllo dough to complete the top and bottom of this pie. You get two rolls in a box, so I use one roll for the bottom and one for the top. This ensures that my pie crust will have a lot of texture and flakiness from the bread crumbs and, amount of layers of Phyllo sheets that I’m using for this recipe. Now once I’ve finished the first roll of Phyllo sheets, I add in the filling. Next I repeat the process with the other roll of Phyllo sheets for the top of the pie.
Once I have the last layer covering the top of the pie, I brush that with butter and sprinkle some bread crumbs on that as well. I score the dough with a paring knife down the middle length wise, then twice in the opposite direction. Finally I make triangles out of each square as you see in the last picture. I like to put the pie right into the oven at 350 degrees. Follow the cooking directions on the back of the box, 15-18 minutes.
Let the pie rest, for about 15-20 minutes. This gives the filling a chance to set. This pie is so delicious and full of flavor. Great dish for entertaining.
Inactive Prep Time: 24 hours
Prep Time: 30 minutes for the layering the dough
Prep Time: 30 minutes for the filling
Cooking Time: 15-18 minutes
Yields: 6 Servings
2 pounds of sweet Italian sausage
3 boxes of frozen spinach ( thawed and drained thoroughly)
1 diced onion
3 cloves of minced garlic
1 teaspoon of grated fresh nutmeg
1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
3 large eggs beaten
4 ounces of goat cheese crumbled
7 ounces of feta cheese cubed
1 package of Phyllo dough sheets
1-1/2 sticks of unsalted melted butter
1/4 cup of seasoned Italian bread crumbs
Directions: Have a 9 x 13 baking dish ready and sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Make the sausage, spinach and cheese filling, along with the beaten eggs that act as the binder for this mixture. Remove the dough from the frig, and lay the sheets out on a flat surface covered with a damp towel. Make sure to have the butter melted and on stand-by. Start layering the sheets with the butter and bread crumbs between each layer, finishing one roll of the sheets for the bottom. Then place the sausage, spinach, and cheese mixture on top then continue with the other roll of Phyllo sheets for the top. Finish the layer with a final brushing of butter and bread crumbs. Score the top of the dough as described in the pictures above. Place into a 350 degree oven for 15-18 minutes or until the dough is flaky and golden brown. Let rest 15-20 minutes before slicing and serving,