© 2024 WHRO Public Media
5200 Hampton Boulevard, Norfolk VA 23508
757.889.9400 | info@whro.org
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Spanakopita (Greek Spinach Pie)

Photo: Tanya Bakogiannis, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Until about a week ago, when I talked with my family in Greece, I had absolutely no idea cinnamon could or even should serve any sort of purpose in this dish. Needless to say, this tiny tweak was exactly what my recipe needed. Cinnamon helps round out the pungency of the feta and the brightness of the dill and lemon without flattening it all into oblivion. It holds up as a substantial winter dish but is not too heavy to have during warmer months. Did I mention it's completely vegetarian? Spanakopita is basically my favorite dish, ever.

Serve spanakopita as an appetizer, side, main course with rice pilaf or fresh veggies (or just have two slices and call that a meal, like I often do).


  • 48-oz fresh baby spinach
  • 1 roll phyllo dough, thawed (keep in plastic packaging until ready to use)
  • ¼ cup olive oil for sautéing, plus a little extra for brushing dough and greasing the baking dish
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 ½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp dill
  • 1 tsp mint
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • ½ tsp lemon zest
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1 dash of cinnamon
  • 1 pinch of salt


1. Place a stockpot on the stovetop and turn to medium-low heat. Once the pot is warm, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and ensure it evenly coats the bottom of the pot.

2. Next, add about a third of spinach and stir occasionally until the leaves begin to wilt. Once there is enough room, repeat until you have added all of the spinach. Add the salt to help extract the liquid. Once the spinach is fully wilted, pour the spinach into a strainer and set aside in the sink to drain (or you may use a salad spinner to remove the excess liquid) and return the stockpot to the stove.

3. Add another 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the stockpot. Then, stir in the chopped onions until fragrant and then add the garlic.

4. Press the spinach into the colander with a spoon or another bowl to drain any excess liquid (unless you used a salad spinner). Once the majority of the liquid is removed, return the burner to medium-low heat, add the spinach to the stockpot, with the onion and garlic stirring frequently until the spinach mixture returns to temperature.

5. Push the spinach mixture to one side of the pot and crack the egg to the vacant spot. Toss it a few times before stirring it into the spinach mixture. Once the egg is cooked through, remove the stockpot from the heat, turn off the burner, and place the spinach mixture in a large bowl and set aside.

6. Add the feta, dill, mint, oregano, lemon zest, black pepper, and cinnamon to the spinach mixture and stir. Once fully mixed, taste and salt if needed.

7. Preheat oven to 350.

8. Grease a 9x13 baking dish with approximately 1 tablespoon of olive oil ensuring the bottom and all four sides are coated evenly. (You can do this with your hands, basting brush, or paper towel, whichever fits your fancy).

9. (Now, this is the part that will try your patience...Phyllo dough is not easy to work with. Deep breath! You've got this!) Open the roll of phyllo dough unrolling it carefully. If it begins to break apart, moisten a paper towel and lay it over the dough pressing it down gently and leave it there for a few minutes. The dough must be semi-most but not wet in order to successfully work with it. Once your phyllo dough is unrolled, add it 3-5 layers at a time to the baking dish until you’ve used about half of the roll.

10. Add the spinach filling to the baking dish spreading it evenly over the phyllo dough. Then, add 3-5 layers of phyllo dough on top of the filling brushing the top layer of each set of layers. Once you have added the entire second half of the phyllo dough, brush the topmost layer with olive oil.

11. Place the dish in the oven and bake until the top layer is golden brown (about 25 minutes).

12. Remove the dish from the oven and carefully cut the spanakopita into 3-4 inch squares and serve immediately.