No joke. I was in the middle of making these amazing spanikopitas when my Greek next-door neighbor showed up with a plate full of baklava.
Fate. Is. Delicious.
I seriously can’t get enough of these babies. I have made them three times! I just can’t stop. I am trying to convince myself that spinach is classic spring, and spanikopita is an Eastery delight. But mostly I just want to eat more buttery, feta-filled strudels.
Don’t you balk from these in fear. They are actually SO easy to make! You don’t even need to brush the phyllo with butter; just drizzle and keep going!
You have no excuse. Go buy some fresh spinach and a mountain of feta and let’s get baking!
I love how easy this filling is.
Now pulse the fresh spinach in the food processor. I recommend small batches, so you get the spinach finely chopped without turning it into soup. I did mine in about 3 batches.
Add the spinach to the beaten eggs, along with the cottage cheese (yes, cottage cheese. Although my Greek neighbor said she uses ricotta. You decide!) and crumbled feta. Even if you buy crumbled feta, you will definitely need to crumble or chop the feta into smaller pieces. Remember, it won’t melt while baking, so smaller crumbles are key to even flavor and texture.
Now set up the space. You need a large, clean cutting board, two lined cookie sheets, and a bowl of melted butter together with a spoon and pastry brush (don’t worry, just for the top of the strudels). Don’t forget a ½-cup measure and a few paper towels…you are about to get a little messy.
When working with phyllo, the key is speed and confidence. You can do this!
The amount of phyllo you need will depend on how large the sheets are. Since we are making strudels, we are using 3 sheets per serving in assembly, but not all phyllo is the same size! The first two times I made this (including the one pictured), I was able to make 8 strudels with ½ lb. phyllo, but the third time I used over 1 lb. because the sheets were so much larger. But all the strudels were delicious!
Open up the phyllo and unroll it. Carefully peel 1 sheet from the stack and lay it on the cutting board. Drizzle as evenly as possible with 1–2 tsp. melted butter. You can either use a measuring spoon or a cereal spoon, whichever feels most comfortable to you. The goal is to get butter all over the phyllo without having to brush it (I like to think of the sheet of phyllo as having 6 or so sections, and try to get a few drops or swirls in each).
Lay a second sheet of phyllo on the first, buttery sheet, and again drizzle with butter. Repeat with a third sheet and butter.
Fold the bottom of the phyllo up over the spinach filling. Then fold the sides in toward the center. Don’t stress too much if the phyllo cracks or tears a little. It’s fragile stuff. Just keep working and remember that the end result will be delicious.
Grab the brush and brush the top of the strudel with butter.
Repeat until all the filling is used up! It is a good idea to stir the filling periodically to make sure all the eggy liquid isn’t pooling at the bottom (which would lead to so very leaky strudels toward the end). There should be 8 spanikopita strudels.
Bake for 30–40 minutes (this batch came out at 30 because we were so hungry! But 35 would have been better), until browned and puffed. Let the strudels cool at least 5 minutes before eating. The pastry should be flaky and crackly and amazing, and the filling will be warm and hearty.
barely adapted from Alexandra’s Kitchen
5 eggs, well beaten
10–11 oz. baby spinach, roughly chopped
1 cup full-fat cottage cheese
12 oz. crumbled feta
1 lb. thawed phyllo, as needed
¾ cup butter, melted
Stir together the beaten eggs, spinach, cottage cheese, and feta in a large bowl. Set aside.
Heat the oven to 350°. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment or Silpats.
Lay the phyllo out on the countertop. Peel one sheet away and lay flat on a clean surface. Drizzle with 1–2 tsp. melted butter. Lay a second sheet directly over the first and drizzle with butter. Repeat with a third sheet of phyllo and butter.
Scoop ½ cup spinach mixture and mound it on the buttery phyllo layers about 3″ from the bottom edge. Fold the bottom of the phyllo over the spinach, followed by the sides. Roll up into a rectangle.
Transfer carefully to the lined cookie sheet, setting the strudel seam-side down, and brush the top with butter.
Repeat with remaining phyllo, butter, and filling. There should be enough for 8 strudels, possibly with phyllo left over (re-freeze the phyllo for a different use).
Bake for 35 minutes, or until golden and puffed. Cool 5 minutes before serving.