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Author Notes: This recipe is my yiayia's and it's a staple at every family gathering--especially during the holidays. It's featured in the September/October 2011 issue of Yankee Magazine, on stands now. The article is called "Pigs in Yiayia's Chicken" and is available for viewing online: www.digital.turn-page.com/issue/39896/80. Also, thank you to photographer, Carl Tremblay for his beautiful photo of my yiayia's dish.
Below is an excerpt from the article as well as the recipe for her insanely addictive spanakopita.
"Sophia Sergentanis, my grandmother--my yiayiá--is standing over her stove stirring pots of Greek rice and stifado, beef stew, when I arrive. She greets me with hugs and kisses on both cheeks, as does my papoú, Manny, my grandfather. I can smell the pan of stuffed grape leaves on a second stovetop and the filled spinach pastries, kalitsounia, warming in the oven. I open the range door and carefully extract one."
You may use ready-made phyllo dough from the freezer section of your local supermarket in this recipe; keep it covered with a damp cloth so that it doesn't dry out and crack. Or for a 100% homemade pie, roll out your own, using the recipe below. —alextillotson
Makes 24 servings
- 1 1/2 pounds frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry
- 1 medium-sized onion, chopped fine
- 1 bunch fresh chopped scallions
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 1/2 pounds ricotta
- 1/2 pound feta
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- 2/3 cup olive oil
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
- 1/4 cup fresh chopped mint
- Kosher or sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 400°.
- On the stovetop over medium heat, sauté spinach, onion and scallions in butter, until tender. Add cheeses, oil, eggs, parsley and mint; mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Add cheeses, oil, eggs, parsley and mint; mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Set aside.
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1 pinch Kosher or sea salt
- 3-4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 stick butter, melted, plus extra for baking dish
- 1 egg, beaten
- sesame seeds
- To make the phyllo dough, mix water, lemon juice, vegetable oil, salt and flour. If dough is sticky, continue adding flour until it forms a ball and does not stick to fingers.
- Using a rolling pin or a pasta machine, roll dough out as thinly as possible. (If you're using a pasta machine, cut strips to fit through the opening; then roll through six times, starting at first setting and ending at sixth setting.)
- Line a greased 9x13-inch glass baking dish with phyllo. Use at least 3 layers on the bottom adding melted butter between layers. Make sure layers cover the sides of the dish and hang over the edges.
- Add spinach mixture. Fold hanging phyllo layers up and over. Add 2 or 3 more layers of phyllo over the top of the mixture, buttering between layers. (Note that if you're using ready-made phyllo, use 10 layers of dough on the bottom and 10 layers on the top, buttering each layer as you go.)
- Brush top with beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
- With a knife, cut squares through just the top phyllo layer.
- Bake 45 minutes to an hour, or until golden brown. Let cool before cutting.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Greens