You know those houses growing up that were always stocked with the most delicious treats imaginable? Well in my life that was the Vourlas house. A trip round the corner to theirs (which was made at least four times a week) never resulted in less than a full 2,000 calorie Greek treat binge fest. I don’t want to say this is the reason I look big enough to eat Nick, their son and one of my bffs, in our prom pics but I also can’t rule it out.
Nick: this is not an invitation to post any of those... you will be in a world of hurt if you do.
To this day, every time I bite into a piece of Spanakopita (one of my top five favorite things in the world), I think of when Victoria spent hours trying to teach me to dive at the pool- I was terrible, when Nick and I used to go and pick up a bucket of buttered popcorn from the Naro to watch Bollywood, his dad calling me Alisa (still can’t figure out if he knows this is wrong), and having longggggg chats with Miss JoAnn in the kitchen. It doesn’t get better than the Vourlases and it doesn’t get better than Greek food.
JoAnn was kind enough to send me their family recipe for Spanakopita (the baked spinach and feta delight), passed down from Mr. Vourlas’ yia-yia (that is Grandma to you). Victoria then sent over her recommendations. I was pretty pleased with the way mine turned out but I would want a couple more trial runs before bringing it round the corner. J
Origin of word: Modern Greek spanakopēta, from spanaki spinach + pēta, pita pie
Vourlas Spanakopita :
“A little background on this recipe: When I was engaged to Thom, his grandmother told me to come to her house and learn how to make spanakopita. I was ready to write everything down. She wouldn’t let me take a note, I had to watch her every move and try to remember what she had done. When we were finished, I ran out to my car, got a pen and paper and wrote down everything I could remember. So here it is:”
Ingredients for filling
- 1 lb of feta cheese
- 3 10 oz frozen spinach (thawed and with all water removed – see hints below)
- 1 medium-large onion diced (can sauté if you want)
- ¾ cup of cottage cheese
- 6 large eggs
-In one bowl beat the eggs
-In another bowl combine the spinach, cottage cheese, feta (all mashed up) salt (to taste) and onions
-Mix eggs and spinach mixture together
Ingredients for putting it all together
- 1 package of filo 1 pound (you won’t use all of the sheets)
- Stick of butter
-Melt the butter
-While it is melting get the filo ready open the package and make sure you keep the filo moist (damp towel over it)
-Coat the bottom of a 13 x 9 pan with melted butter
-Take one sheet of filo and place half in the bottom of the pan and the rest overlapping the side brush with melted butter
-Do this 3 more times so that all of the sides have overlapping filo and you have four sheets at the bottom BRUSH EACH NEW SHEET WITH BUTTER
-Now add 2-3 more sheets of folded whole sheets of filo—butter each layer of filo
-Add the spinach mixture
-3-4 more folded sheets of filo with butter between each sheet
-You may score it before you put in the oven
Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees.
- Let the spinach defrost and sit in fridge for at least 3 days. I put it in colander with paper towels, I ring the water out each night. If you don't do this, you flavor is too overpowered by the spinach
- FILO comes frozen, so put 1 packet if it in fridge when you put spinach out to defrost. It will be easier to use when time comes to start layer. New filo is better than when this recipe was written, you don't need to keep wet towel over top anymore. Just don't dilly-dally. You need to have filing ready to go before you bring out filo. I do 8 layers on bottom and 8 on top. That is typically the entire pack bc I usually have a couple sheets the rip. It takes about 15 - 20 min to "build" So make sure you can do it all at once (you can do the filing earlier and just store in fridge)
- Use a wet feta. Not pre crumbled.
- You can sauté your onions if you want.
- I would score. Cut all the way thru the top layer.