From America's Test Kitchen Season 12: Mediterranean Specials
The roots of this savory spinach and feta pie, with its trademark layers of flaky, crisp phyllo, run deep in Greek culture, yet most stateside versions are nothing more than soggy layers of phyllo with a sparse, bland filling. We wanted a casserole-style pie with a perfect balance of zesty spinach filling and shatteringly crisp phyllo crust—and we didn’t want to spend all day in the kitchen. Using store-bought phyllo was an easy timesaver. Among the various spinach options (baby, frozen, mature curly-leaf), tasters favored the bold flavor of fresh curly-leaf spinach that had been microwaved, coarsely chopped, then squeezed of excess moisture. Crumbling the feta into fine pieces ensured a salty tang in every bite, while the addition of Greek yogurt buffered the assertiveness of the feta. We found that Pecorino Romano (a good stand-in for a traditional Greek hard sheep’s-milk cheese) added complexity to the filling and, when sprinkled between the sheets of phyllo, helped the flaky layers hold together. Using a baking sheet rather than a baking dish allowed excess moisture to easily evaporate, ensuring a crisp crust.
Ideally, spanakopita is a hot and flavorful one-dish meal encased in a crispy, buttery crust. Yet most versions fall flat--a Greek tragedy in need of a happy ending.Watch the Video
Serves 6 to 8 as a main dish or 10 to 12 as an appetizer
Full-fat sour cream can be substituted for whole-milk Greek yogurt. Phyllo dough is also available in large 14 by 18-inch sheets; if using, cut them in half to make 14 by 9-inch sheets. Don't thaw the phyllo in the microwave—let it sit in the refrigerator overnight or on the countertop for four to five hours. To make ahead, freeze the spanakopita on the baking sheet, wrapped well in plastic wrap, or cut the spanakopita in half crosswise and freeze smaller sections on a plate. Bake the spanakopita frozen, increasing the baking time by 5 to 10 minutes.