Make Ahead

Batsaria (Phyllo-less Spanakopita)

December 31, 2013
4 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

When my great-grandparents emigrated from Greece to America at the turn of the last century, they brought with them four sons and four daughters, including a newborn little girl they named Eleftheria, or "Freedom." They also brought with them, as immigrants do, the recipes that would help make them feel at home in their new country. Not written-down recipes -- but dishes made from their hearts, their hands, and their heads. They came to settle in Washington, DC from the city of Ioannina in the northwest of Greece, a city known for its fine silversmiths, its university, and (I was always told) its good cooks. This is our family recipe for a spinach pie called "batsaria" (baht-sahr-YA), the lesser-known cousin of spanakopita. If you love spanakopita but don't like to fiddle with filo dough, this one's for you! I brought a pan to our recent DC Food52 holiday party and cookie swap, and those who tasted it (and even took some home for supper) encouraged me to submit it to this contest. —cookbookchick

Test Kitchen Notes

Cookbookchic's version of spinach pie is one of the best I've ever had. Loads of spinach and a light crust make for a great meal! The garlic is indeed key -- I had never included it in any version I'd made before, but I'll never omit it again. My only regret is that I didn't have Bulgarian feta, which I think would have cut some of the saltiness in the recipe. The filling is so good that I envision using it again soon in a stuffed pizza or calzone. This one is truly a keeper! —inpatskitchen

  • Prep time 25 minutes
  • Cook time 55 minutes
  • Serves 12
Ingredients
  • For the spinach mixture
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter (6 ounces)
  • 2 bags fresh (not baby) spinach, approximately 1 pound each
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped finely
  • 1 bunch scallions (or two, if the scallions are skinny), the white parts and some of the green, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic (up to 8 cloves, depending on your love of garlic), peeled and chopped finely
  • 1 handful fresh parsley, chopped finely
  • 1/2 pound feta cheese (Greek or Bulgarian tastes best)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt (I use Diamond Crystal brand)
  • 1 pinch freshly ground pepper
  • 4 eggs
  • For the batter
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup neutral oil (I use canola)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups water (from the cold side of your spigot)
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Melt butter in a small pot, skimming off foam and discarding it. Set aside.
  2. Take out the largest bowl you have, or a soup kettle if you don't have a big bowl. Roughly chop the spinach, stems and all. Wash and dry the chopped spinach in a salad spinner. Dump the spinach into the big bowl or pot.
  3. Add the onion, scallions, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper to the spinach. Mix well. Crumble in the feta and mix again, gently. Set aside while you make the batter.
  4. Note: I think proper salting is key to the outcome of this dish. If you aren't afraid of raw eggs, take a little taste, but with the saltiness of the feta, I have now found that 1 tablespoon of kosher salt is about right for this amount of spinach. Also, one time I forgot to put in the garlic and the result was flat and unsatisfying; the garlic really is the key flavor combo in this dish.
  5. Measure the 3 cups of flour, salt, and baking powder into another bowl. (This one doesn't have to be so large.). Make a well in the center of the flour. Into the well, put the oil, the unbeaten egg, and the water. Mix together until smooth, but don't overmix. The batter should be the consistency of pancake batter.
  6. Spread some of the melted butter in the bottom of a roasting pan. I use my 11 x 14 All Clad lasagna pan. The size of the pan will determine the thickness of the finished batsaria. I like mine thick-ish, while my mother liked hers very thin, almost cracker-like. Spread some of the batter thinly on top of the butter.
  7. Beat the 4 eggs until they're light and airy, then add them to the spinach mixture, stirring gently. My Aunt Elizabeth (she who was named Freedom in Greek) said that adding the well-beaten eggs at the last minute is one of the secrets to a good outcome for this dish. Spoon the spinach mixture into the baking pan, spreading it as evenly as you can.
  8. Now spoon the rest of the batter onto the top of the spinach. There will not be enough to cover the spinach, but you don't want it to. Glop it here and there, leaving areas of spinach exposed. Sprinkle the rest of the butter over the top of the spinach and the batter. (Don't try doubling the batter to get more complete coverage -- I did it once and the end result was way too bready.)
  9. Bake at 350° F until golden brown, about 50 minutes to an hour.. The aroma as it bakes is heavenly! Let the batsaria cool a bit before you cut it into squares or rectangles to serve. It is delicious warm, but like so many Mediterranean foods, it is also good at room temperature. Leftovers are wonderful reheated or cold.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Mae
    Mae
  • Allon
    Allon
  • Rebecca Cherry
    Rebecca Cherry
  • em-i-lis
    em-i-lis
  • Charlene Dy Syyong
    Charlene Dy Syyong
cookbookchick

Recipe by: cookbookchick

I am retired from CBS News, having worked in both NYC and Washington DC, my native town. I'm married, mother of three, grandmother of two. I've been a passionate cook since I was a child, and have collected recipes since then. I am shamelessly addicted to cookbooks -- hence my moniker -- but I figure it's not only less harmful than other addictions, but also produces a better outcome for those around me. My family call me "the food lady," so I guess they agree!

69 Reviews

Mae May 22, 2020
I just made a veganized version of this based on what I had on hand. It is very good! Only two things I would do differently - 1 tbs seems like way too much salt! I used half a tbs which was pretty good, and still could have used less. Second, next time I will put more batter on the bottom, only because I think it could use less on top.
 
Allon May 23, 2020
How did you veganize the recipe? Which substutes did you use?
 
Debbi July 10, 2019
So happy I read the reviews because this is a five star dish, not three stars per the ratings. I don't have anything to add to others glorious comments, just wanted to chime in as I am currently enjoying leftovers for breakfast. Useful tips from others: make the entire recipe, you will enjoy every bite. I used the Costco size bag of spinach as someone recommended as well as the feta crumbles from Costco. I did increase the feta a bit as it isn't as quite the same as the good stuff from the deli. I love phyllo dough so was a bit apprehensive about the batter but it is delicious. I will be making this again. Thanks for sharing your family recipe.
 
despina May 24, 2018
Thank you for this recipe! My mother is from Ioannina and Batsaria is something my grandmother always makes for us when we visit her there. She is 89 years old now but still greets us with a warm "tapsi" of it whenever we visit!
 
despina May 24, 2018
She is a very special yiayia indeed! She has passed on many recipes to my mother (who is also an amazing cook!) who in turn has taught me. I now have a 3 year old and a 5 year old daughter who tell me that Greek food is their favourite! We live in Ontario Canada.
 
Eleni F. November 14, 2017
There is no such thing as ''Bulgarian" feta! Feta cheese is Greek.
 
webpossum March 25, 2018
Actually Greece doesn’t hold a monopoly on feta - Bulgarian feta is delicious! https://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/primers/article/feta-guide
 
Jane July 21, 2019
Costco has a wonderful Bulgarian feta that is far superior to the typical feta found in many dairy aisles. It comes in a tub with lots of brine. I use the brine to marinate chicken (a la Melissa Clark's Feta-Brined Roast Chicken on this site).
 
Allon November 12, 2016
Prepared the Batsaria last night and loved it.
Thank you for this wonderful recipe.
 
witloof March 27, 2016
I made this for Easter lunch today using a mixture of spinach, kale, and tatsoi, and it was lovely. I don't cook with canola oil, so I substituted olive oil. Thanks for a great recipe -- I'm sure I'll be making this again.
 
NC February 5, 2016
An excellent recipe but way too salty for us. I used 2 lbs of thawed and squeezed frozen spinach and it came out beautifully. I think with the feta you can cut back on the salt significantly. I will use a teaspoon instead of a tablespoon of the kosher salt next time. It was great, yummy and made a quick weeknight dinner! I highly recommend it.
 
Rebecca C. December 24, 2015
I read most of the comments before cooking this myself and decided to follow the recipe, as written. My only adjustment was to cut the quantity by 3/4, making enough to nicely fill a 9x9 baking dish. It was delicious, even made by someone like me who can seem to get any kind of batter exactly right!
 
em-i-lis October 23, 2015
Stephanie, Please remind me: If I want to freeze this, do you recommend cooking completely first?
 
Charlene D. June 11, 2015
I made a batch yesterday and have eaten it hot out of the oven, room temperature, and cold, and it's a fantastic, all-purpose meal. I think I like it even better than traditional spanakopita. Thank you, cookbookchick for sharing! A couple observations:
- I used it to clean out my CSA share, and it was delicious with a wide variety of tender greens, not just spinach. Mine included chard, curly endive, sorrel, dill, parsley, and tarragon -- ridiculously good.
- I noticed a couple of comments about salt. As suggested by the recipe, I salted the filling to taste, and it came out great. However, I didn't taste the batter before baking, and afterwards, found the crust to be a tad bland. When I make it again, I plan to add an extra teaspoon of salt to the batter.
 
Surin March 5, 2015
I've made this a few times and have made some adjustments:
- used olive oil instead of butter (and less of it - probably a quarter cup rather than over a half cup like the recipe calls for)
- added in mustard greens
- added a little lemon juice
- added in dill and mint
- and most importantly: BLANCHED THE SPINACH. If you make this with fresh spinach, I defy you to fit it into ANY size bowl! Blanching the spinach right before and wringing it out halved the volume and didn't seem to affect the final outcome at all, comparing the times I've made this without blanching to when I have.

Great recipe, sorry for my character flaw of needing to fiddle with it!
 
jennifer January 29, 2015
I made this last night and have been snacking on it all day. I only had a 1 lb package of baby spinach in the house - so I halved the recipe, though perhaps added a bit over half of garlic and feta. It is delicious - but I don't actually 'get' the batter part of the recipe. Of course I get that it is a quick and easy replacement for phyllo, but I don't get what it adds to the dish - it didn't do much for me. I'll try it without the batter next time, perhaps throw in an extra egg, drizzle with butter, and see what happens. Otherwise...I'm mulling over other ideas for batter replacement.....or other ways to use this dish - on pizza? layered with shrimp? over crisp latkes?
 
CWA22 January 26, 2015
I loved this! However, I found that the spinach quantity was too large. I couldn't fit it into the lasagna pan - not even close. I think two bags is right, not two pounds. Probably my mistake. Note: my family liked this even better the second day when it had firmed up a bit. It's even good cold!
 
Jenna January 10, 2015
Thanks trying it tomorrow!
 
Jenna January 10, 2015
I accidentally bought baby spinach Can I use that?
 
Antigoni S. January 10, 2015
I made it with Baby Spinach and it still came out great!
 
Iap January 8, 2015
I made this tonight and it was excellent. I had a 1 pound bag of frozen spinach so I used that, drained. I also added zest of one Meyer lemon and a little extra pepper on top. Really great recipe. Thank you!
 
Jean O. January 3, 2015
I used two 10 ounce bags of fresh spinach -- definitely enough. I also used whole wheat flour. Phenomenally good!
 
bistrobistro December 24, 2014
So love this dish. I have made it many times and LOVE love love it every time. Thank you again! I almost want to make fritters of the spinach with batter so as not to wait so long - it is sooo hard :)
 
Lauren K. December 8, 2014
So excited just put mine in the oven and the house DOES smell wonderful! It's going to be a loooong hour but I'm thinking def worth the wait! Thanks for the recipe..
 
Am9 November 24, 2014
I think using batter takes away from this dish... I would prefer the phyllo or none... an actual crustless spanikopita...
 
Robin November 24, 2014
Did you try the recipe? I am a huge fan of the traditional phyllo recipe but absolutely love this version. I sometimes find myself daydreaming about it!!