Home made phyllo dough filled with spinach, herbs and feta
Summer is almost over! How can that be?! As always, the months when school is out, the days are at their longest, and the sun smiles down warmly, pass all too quickly. We try to hold on to the season by enjoying every moment left and by looking back at our June picnics, July getaways and August pool parties and barbecues, recognizing that although quick, our summer was blessedly full.
The quintessential Greek pie: Spanakopita with homemade phyllo
Spanakopita; the King (or Queen) of Greek cuisine. We doubt that there is a food more loved than this. Regardless of culinary and cultural background, and whether or not you grew up in a Greek household, you have probably heard of spanakopita. The lucky amongst us will have also tasted it, and the most fortunate know how to make it on their own, so that it can be enjoyed whenever the craving hits. Spanakopita is the reason Greek parents can’t relate to other parents when they say “You know how kids are! We have to puree and sneak vegetables into everything…Jack and Jill won’t touch anything green! Kids, right?!” Wrong. We think Jack and Jill just need to be offered a piece of spanakopita.
In Greece, this week marks the last week of a festive carnival season, before the start of Great Lent, which precedes Orthodox Easter. It is a week where many abstain from meat, but happily over indulge in cheese and dairy products in anticipation of the upcoming period of fast, which for many, typically prohibits most animal products. Even those who will not follow a strict fast enjoy the opportunity to celebrate and feast on cheese and things made with cheese. These tyropites, with homemade phyllo dough, are our nod to this carnival week of Tyrini (cheese week).
There are so many ways to make tyropites, and every family certainly has their favourite recipe. This is ours. Although making tyropites using store-bought phyllo dough (similar in technique to the spanakopitakia we have shared with you) is another delicious option, making your own phyllo adds another level of deliciousness. In this particular recipe the phyllo is made with yogourt (let’s get as much dairy in here as we can) and the filling is a mixture of ricotta cheese and Greek feta; a combination which is flavourful and light. The result are small packets of creamy, cheese filling wrapped in a flaky, but light, dough. Lovely.
Ask most non-Greeks what their favourite Greek food is and we think that a large majority of them will say spanakopita. Perhaps this is because spanakopita is so easy to pronounce, not requiring the guttural sounds difficult to articulate unless you have practiced them since birth. Although this is true, it must be more than mere phonetics. We actually think that spanakopita are so revered because they are, in a word, yummy.
Spanakopita are perfect in so many ways, and there are so many ways to prepare them. Here we have chosen to share the recipe for what we affectionately call spanakopitakia; the -kia tagged on to the end illustrating that these particular spanakopita are small and adorable. Made with store-bought phyllo, they are actually pretty easy (albeit time consuming) to make. In future posts we plan to introduce other variations of spanakopita, including those made with home-made phyllo dough. We dream about one day having a whole category of recipes called “Pitas”. No…really…we actually dream about this stuff, like, in our sleep. #losers