When it’s good to be bad

The long cool spring we’ve had has made for a bumper crop of greens. Eating a bunch fresh out of the garden or from the market, there’s nothing quite so guaranteed to make you feel like you’re doing your body a favour. So many vitamins and essential nutrients, as well as all those antioxidants.

Herbs and spring onions ready to mix.
Herbs and spring onions ready to mix.

And that’s true even when you combine it with the kind of “bad” stuff nutritionists always go on about (often wrongly). Like, you know, full-fat cheese and pastry.

Which just part of the reason spinach pie – spanakopita – is so magnificent. All those magnificent greens, mixed with all that salty delicious feta and parmesan, and that crisp filo pastry. What’s not to love?

Spinach pie

Lots and lots of greens, a kilogram or even more, preferably. Mostly spinach, but fine to add in silver beet, or even some sorrel, if that’s what you have. Get rid of as many of the stems as you can be bothered doing. Make sure the greens are thoroughly washed and drained.

Wilt the spinach in a frypan. Then put it aside in a colander to cool. When cool, squeeze the leaves hard to get rid of as much moisture as you can. It will be quite a lot.

In a frypan that’s not too hot:
Some olive oil (don’t let the olive oil get to smoking hot!)
1 chopped onion or 1 leek finely sliced, cook gently until soft
2 cloves garlic, crushed

In a bowl:
4 eggs, lightly beaten
250 feta cheese

Edges trimmed and folded, the top brushed with little butter, and ready for the oven.
Edges trimmed and folded, the top brushed with little butter, and ready for the oven.

150g ricotta (but if you don’t have it, as I didn’t this time, just use more feta)
1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan (can be less)
1/2-1 tsp ground nutmeg

Then add to the bowl and mix thoroughly:
the frypan stuff
the cooled and squeezed greens
Several spring onions, chopped
2-3 tbsp chopped dill
1-2 tbsp chopped parsley
lots of black pepper

Grease your baking dish. Have some melted butter and a pastry brush ready.

It never lasts long.
It never lasts long.

Lay a filo sheet into the baking tray. Brush with butter. I occasionally alternate with an oil spray (it’s easier, and it uses a hell of a lot less butter. Not that I have any objection to butter). Keep doing that with another 4-5 sheets of filo. Put your spinach mix into the tray. Cover with another four-six layers of buttered filo.

Trim and fold in the edges of the pastry. Cut a diamond pattern into the top.

Cook at 200C for about 45 minutes, until it’s golden on top.



Corinna Hente


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