Spanakopita

SPANAKOPITA Tsimpiti – The ultimate guide to Homemade Greek Spinach Pie and 10 tips to make it perfect!

Learn how to make a Greek Homemade SPANAKOPITA “Tsimpiti” (Pinched Spinach pie). I’m sharing all my secrets for a crispy homemade dough, an out-of-this-world delicious Spinach filling, and a perfectly baked Spanakopita pie!!! This is THE BEST Spanakopita according to my taste. Give it a try and discover its exceptional taste!

Spanakopita

Tsimpiti Spanakopita

I named this Spanakopita Tsimpiti (Pinched Spinach pie) because I pinch each phyllo that I layer so that pleats (waves) are created on the surface of each sheet.

This serves two purposes: First it prevents the phyllo sheets from sticking together and second as a result this causes air to circulate between the sheets and bakes them evenly.

Before I start analyzing the secrets for a perfect Spanakopita, I would first like to thank my friend Rania and her mother Ms. Chrysoula from Agrinio for the recipe she gave me for her amazing Horta pie! Rania often shared her mother’s pie with me and the rest of our colleagues at work. It was the best pie I’ve ever had and the inspiration to slowly start making Spanakopita at home, I thank her very much!

Spanakopita

10 tips for perfect Spanakopita (spinach pie) with handmade phyllo dough:

  1. When you roll open the Phyllo sheets you should make them very thin (almost see through) and when you brush the olive oil on them it should be a very generous amount. When you think you’ve oiled them enough… oil them some more!!! Don’t go stingy on olive oil for a spinach pie!
  2. The filling needs a lot of onions and plenty of seasoning salt and pepper. It must also be cold when you put it on the pie. Ideally just out of your fridge.
  3. You must add flour or semolina in the filling because it helps to absorb the water from the spinach during of the pie and prevents it from getting soggy.
  4. A little feta makes it tasty, but if you add too much feta it will cover the taste of the spinach and you will not have a tasty spinach pie but an indifferent feta-spinach pie.
  5. The dough should be “heavy” when you put it to rest and when it’s time to roll it, it needs a lot of flour.
  6. Always use fresh spinach for your pie! Frozen spinach is lightly boiled and is not as tasty as fresh. It also produces more juices.
  7. If you want the spinach pie to remain crispy even after adding it to the fridge, then after taking it out of the oven, wait 10 minutes for it to cool and cut it immediately, removing 1 piece and spreading the rest of the pieces on the baking tray. It’s that simple!
  8. The baking tray you will use for the Spanakopita plays a big role for a well baked spinach pie. The pan should be a thin tin. If you add the spinach pie in a Pyrex tray with a thick bottom, it will not cook evenly and the bottom will be uncooked. Clay trays, Pyrex trays, and non-stick trays are not suitable for this pie.
  9. The Chard (Sesculo), although optional, gives a wonderful sweetness to the spinach, so I recommend adding it to the filling every time!
  10. Don’t sauté the spinach for a lot of time because it loses its taste. As soon as it withers take it off the heat and it’s ready to be used for the filling after it cools off.

All the tips and instructions that I mention above and below work ONLY for my recipe and are tailored to how I enjoy making and eating the Spanakopita.

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What is the best flour for homemade phyllo dough?

I have made a lot of pies in my life and I have used whatever flour was available in my house. From all-purpose flour, strong, bread flour, semolina mix, etc. I can tell you with confidence that the strong flour type is the best.

Nevertheless, with the following recipe, no matter what flour you use, you will be able to eat spinach pie. If you would like to eat the best spinach pie then use strong flour.

Flour for phyllo dough Spanakopita

What ingredients can you use for the Spanakopita filling?

My favorite ingredients for the filling are: fresh Spinach, Onions, spring onions, Chard (Sesculo), Dill, and a little Feta.

If I don’t have the amount I want for example the green onions, I add more from the dry ones or vice versa. Onions are very important for a delicious Spinach filling because together with chard they compliment and elevate the taste of the spinach.

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What baking tray is the best to bake a Spanakopita pie?

Not every baking tray is suitable to bake a Spanakopita. The baking tray that you will choose must be thin. If you add the spinach pie to a Pyrex tray with a thick bottom, it will not cook evenly and the bottom will be uncooked. If you add it to a non-stick tray you will destroy it while cutting the pie because it needs to be cut all the way through before adding it to the oven. So, to sum it up don’t use Pyrex trays, clay trays, or non-stick trays as they are not suitable for this pie. Bake your Spanakopita pie in a tin, or aluminum tray.

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baking tray suitable for spanakopita1b
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The video has subtitles in English, Greek, and more than 30 languages.

Spanakopita

SPANAKOPITA Tsimpiti – The ultimate guide to Homemade Greek Spinach Pie and 10 tips to make it perfect!

Prep: 15m | Rest: 2h | Cook: 45m | Total: 3h | Yield: 12 pieces (30cm / 12in baking tray)

Ingredients:

For the Phyllo (Filo) dough:

  • 2 ½ cups Strong Flour, divided (475g)
  • 3/4 cup Strong Flour for rolling the Phyllo (about 150g)
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 Tbsp Vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil (for the dough)
  • ½ Tbsp Olive oil (for the resting)
  • 1 Tbsp fine Semolina flour (when assembling the Spanakopita pie)
  • 3/4 cup warm Water (230g)
  • 20 Tbsp Olive Oil, for greasing each Phyllo sheet (about ¾ cup)

For the Spinach filling:

  • 500g Spinach, trimmed*
  • 100g Chard (Sesculo) (1 bunch) * Optional
  • 3 Onions, finely chopped
  • 10 Spring Onions, cut into rings
  • 1 cup Dill, finely chopped (1 bunch)
  • 170g Feta cheese, crumbled – Optional
  • 1 Τbsp fine Semolina Flour
  • 4 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 pinches of Salt
  • 2 pinches of Pepper

Instructions:

  1. Start with the making of the spinach filling because it has to cool off before you add it to the spinach pie.
  2. Prepare the ingredients by washing the spinach well, changing 3 waters, and cutting the stalk. If the leaves are too big cut them in half. Wash and chop the dry onions, the Spring Onions, and the dill. Crumble the feta with a fork just before you are ready to add it to the filling.
  3. For the filling: Saute the onion with the olive oil in a large pot over high heat and as soon as it turns white, add the spring onion and the dill and let them sauté all together for about 1 minute.
  4. Then add the spinach and chard to the pot in batches and stir until they wither and you have added all inside the pot. Season it with 2 pinches of salt and 2 pinches of pepper and turn off the heat. I don’t want to sauté the spinach at this stage. My aim is to wither it so I can mix it with the rest of the ingredients.
  5. Add the filling to a strainer and let it drain off its juices for about 30 minutes at room temperature and then place it in the fridge for AT LEAST 1 hour.
  6. Take the filling out of the fridge and just before you are ready to add it to the pie, mix in 1 Tbsp semolina flour and the crumbled Feta.
  7. For the Phyllo (filo) dough: Add 2 cups of strong flour in a medium size bowl and mix in the salt.
  8. Make a hole in the center of the flour and add 1 Tbsp of Olive Oil and 1 Tbsp of vinegar. Then mix in the warm water slowly.
  9. After the flour has absorbed all the water, slowly add the remaining ½ cup of strong flour and knead it until you get a “heavy” dough.
  10. Add the dough to a clean bowl, pour ½ Tbsp of Olive Oil on top, and massage it to coat all of the dough.
  11. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let it Rest for 2 hours at room temperature.
  12. As soon as the dough is rested, transfer it to your kitchen counter, sprinkle some flour, and give it a few folds to give it a cylindrical shape.
  13. Divide it into 3 parts but cut only one. Divide the other 2 pieces into 5 balls of the same length. That way, we have a large piece of dough that we will spread to the base of the pie and 5 equal-length pieces, 6 in total. We will use 3 at the bottom and 3 at top of the pie.
  14. We start by working on the biggest dough ball, which we will roll into a very thin phyllo sized about 38-40 cm. That length will cover the bottom and the edges of the baking tray and it will protrude with enough length so that we can twist it perimetrically and make the Spanakopita crust.
  15. While you roll the first dough ball, you should keep the rest of the 5 balls in a bowl covered so they don’t dry out.
  16. Lay the first sheet at the bottom of the pan, oil it generously with a brush, and then sprinkle 1 Tbsp fine semolina flour.
  17. Then lay the second phyllo sheet and pinch it lightly with your fingers so as to create pleats that will help not stick to one another and bake evenly. Give it a good brush with Olive oil and don’t forget to also oil the sides.
  18. After you lay the third phyllo sheet, pour the filling and spread it evenly with the help of a spoon or a knife.
  19. On top of the filling lay the rest of 3 phyllo sheets, oiling them generously and pinching each time you add a sheet.
  20. After adding the last sheet, oil the surface well.
  21. Measure about 2cm from the phyllo that is protruding outside of the baking tray and cut out what exceeds.
  22. To make the crust of the Spanakopita turn and twist the phyllo that protrudes inside the baking tray.
  23. Cut the spinach pie into 12 pieces before putting it into the oven. The cuts must run deep and make sure your knife goes all the way to the bottom of the tray. This is an important step because it helps to bake the Spanakopita evenly and also because it will be easier to cut them after it’s baked.
  24. Bake at 180C /350F on the bottom rack of the oven for 45 minutes. The Spanakopita (spinach pie) is ready when it turns golden brown.
  25. After the Spanakopita is baked cut out 1 piece and spread the rest of the pieces into the tray and let the pie cool off like this. This simple and easy trick helps the Spanakopita remain crispy for many days even if you decide to add it to the fridge.
  26. Store the Spanakopita at room temperature for 3-4 days or in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Notes:

  • The Spinach measurement is for trimmed spinach before washing it.
  • The above tips and secrets for Spanakopita are ONLY for handmade phyllo and specifically for MY recipe. Store-bought phyllo dough has other secrets and is baked in a completely different way.
  • If you can’t find Chard (Seskulo) in your country then add 700g of Spinach and the rest of the ingredients mentioned in the recipe.
  • If for some crazy – unthinkable reason – you choose to add frozen spinach in your Spinach pie then you will simply thaw it and drain it. After sautéing the rest of the ingredients, turn off the heat and add the spinach giving it a good stir and it’s ready for the pie after it cools off.
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