Batsaria (Phyllo-less Spanakopita)

December 31, 2013

Test Kitchen-Approved

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

Food52 Review: 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

Serves: 12
Prep time: 25 min
Cook time: 55 min

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.

More Great Recipes:
Greek|Cheese|Egg|Green Onion/Scallion|Parsley|Vegetable|Make Ahead|Serves a Crowd|Fall|Spring|Summer|Winter

Reviews (65) Questions (0)

65 Reviews

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! <br />
 
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
 
Allon November 12, 2016
Prepared the Batsaria last night and loved it. <br />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: <br />- 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.<br />- 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:<br />- 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)<br />- added in mustard greens<br />- added a little lemon juice<br />- added in dill and mint<br />- 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. <br /><br />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!<br />
 
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 :)<br />
 
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!!
 
susanna.faygenbaum November 24, 2014
I want to make this for Thanksgiving. Do you think I can prepare it the night before and bake it next day?
 
em-i-lis November 24, 2014
For what it's worth, I think it's just as delicious the next day!
 
Robin November 24, 2014
I think I would assemble the spinach mixture and keep the batter separate. When you're ready to bake then pour on the batter. <br />But, I also agree with Emily above, it's still delicious the next day and the day after!!
 
Franca October 31, 2014
Had this last night for supper. We replaced the parsley with dill and added some ricotta to the mix. Really delicious. Looking forward to lunch to eat the leftovers. Thanks for a lovely recipe.