Spanakopita

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A vegetarian Greek classic that’s surprisingly filling, and an excellent way of encouraging enthusiastic spinach eating in those who may otherwise be reluctant. This makes a happy spring lunch alongside a punchy vinaigrette-dressed salad.

Should probably serve six, but serves four in our household…

Ingredients
500g frozen spinach or 1.5kg fresh
10 spring onions, finely chopped
200g feta
250g ricotta
3 eggs
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 lemon, zest and juice
1 small bunch of parsley and dill, tough stalks removed and finely chopped
Grated nutmeg
8 sheets filo pastry
50g butter, melted
Pepper

Method
Heat the oven to 180C / gas mark 4, and put a baking tray in to heat up.

If using fresh spinach, wash it well and remove any tough stalks. Cram it into a large saucepan with just the washing water clinging to it, put a lid on and set over a medium heat. Shake it every minute or so until it’s wilted, then tip it into a sieve and, press out as much liquid as you can then squeeze it dry in a clean tea towel. Roughly chop. If using frozen, defrost and squeeze dry in a clean tea towel.

In a large bowl, combine the spinach, spring onions, herbs, crushed garlic, lemon zest and juice. Crumble in the feta and add the ricotta. Grate over some nutmeg (about 1/4 teaspoon) and season well with pepper. Crack in the eggs and scrunch it all together with your hands until well combined.

Brush a round ovenproof dish or cake tin with melted butter and gently drape over a sheet of filo, easing it into the bowl and leaving a longer overlap on one side than the other. Brush it with butter, give the bowl a quarter turn and lay across another sheet of filo. Keep going, turning the bowl each time so the whole dish is evenly covered, and brushing each lightly with butter, until you’ve used up six sheets.

Scrape in the filling and lightly press it to cover the bowl evenly. Lay the remaining two sheets of filo on top, brushing each with butter, and then fold the overhanging sheets back into the middle of the bowl – you can scrunch them a bit, they don’t have to be smooth or neat.

Brush the top again with butter, then place the bowl on the pre-heated baking tray and bake for 30 – 35 mins until golden brown. Serve warm.

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