Cottage Cheese

Nelly's "Greek Festival" Spanakopita

October 15, 2015
5 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • Serves 8 to 10
Author Notes

This is a classic recipe for a very popular Greek dish. Nelly, the wonderful Greek woman who shared this recipe with me, makes it every year for her Church's festival. I think that is quite fitting, as this recipe is so good, it's worthy of the Gods! —Anna Francese Gass

What You'll Need
  • For the filling:
  • 4 pounds frozen chopped spinach
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
  • 5 scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 bunch dill, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 5 eggs, beaten
  • 1 pound cottage cheese
  • 1 1/2 pounds feta cheese, broken up into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • For the dough:
  • 1 packet phyllo dough, #4 (Nelly likes Apollo)
  • 1 cup clarified butter
  1. Preheat oven to 375┬░ F. Thoroughly drain the spinach of all water by squeezing it in a cheesecloth. Wet spinach will cause for soggy spanakopita.
  2. Over medium heat, melt butter with scallions and cook until scallions are soft and translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes
  3. Transfer to a large bowl and add dill, salt, pepper, eggs, cottage cheese, feta cheese, spinach, and olive oil. Fold ingredients together until fully combined, careful to not break up feta. Do not overmix.
  4. Now time to prepare the phyllo. Lightly butter a 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish. Prepare phyllo by removing from package and unfurling it. You should have around 25 to 30 sheets. As you work, cover the dough with a damp tea towel or moistened paper towel on top to prevent it from drying out.
  5. Carefully peel off one sheet of phyllo and lay it on the bottom of pan. Sheets of phyllo should not be pulled tight. Instead, lay it in a crumbled fashion to create a textured layer. With pastry brush, generously spread with clarified butter until the sheet is moistened. Continue until you have used half of your total filo dough (about 10 to 15 sheets).
  6. Spread filling over the sheets of phyllo in an even layer, to the ends of the dish.
  7. Begin the process of covering with phyllo and brushing with butter until two to three sheets of phyllo remain. Pull the final sheets tightly over the top of the dish to create a smooth top. Brush top layer with clarified butter.
  8. Using a very sharp paring knife, score six even lines lengthwise down the phyllo, about 1/2-inch deep. Now, on the horizontal, cut four even lines across. In each square, cut a diagonal line to create two triangles in each box. Nelly likes to cut the corner pieces in the opposite direction.
  9. Take the remaining clarified butter and brush directly into each cut. This will keep the phyllo in place while cooking. Then, take the paring knife and carefully tuck border down by running the knife around all four edges. Brush border with butter.
  10. Bake at for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the top is a deep golden brown. Check after 1 hour for browning. Serve at room temperature.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Ginger Smith
    Ginger Smith
  • Heather Angeloff
    Heather Angeloff
  • FoodFanaticToo
  • Anna Francese Gass
    Anna Francese Gass
  • Dessito
Cookbook Author. Heirloom Kitchen.Food52 contributing editor & Recipe Tester.

20 Reviews

Zelda July 31, 2018
Can I freeze before I bake.
Laura March 3, 2017
That was my question too! I 've always disliked doll due to various heavy hands. Perhaps without it may not have as much flavor though.
Anyone have a better idea?
Laura October 30, 2016
Hell, is there a substitution for dill..least fav herb. ?
Anna F. February 8, 2017
Laura, you can absolutely omit the dill. Have to admit, I used to dislike dill myself. I think this recipe made me start to love it...!
andrea S. March 14, 2016
This was wonderful. I only had dried dill, so I used 2 TBSP. Also, 3 eggs + 1/2 c egg beaters. And I only needed 1/4 cup melted butter for all the brushing. It was plenty rich and somewhere between golden and darker brown after 1 1/2 hrs at 375 degs. No burnt edges just yummy awesomeness. Thanks for the great recipe!
Anna F. March 15, 2016
So honored you tried it and super pleased you enjoyed it.
Tarra March 13, 2016
I would like to put this together the night before and then bake it the morning of the day I plan to serve it for a luncheon. Is that possible or will the phyllo get soggy?
Anna F. March 15, 2016
I'd bake it the night before and then do a quick reheat right before your luncheon. That way, you don't have to worry about soggy bottom layer AND, your guests will it enjoy it warm. Just put it back in the oven at 350 for about 20 minutes. It won't burn and it won't be too hot. Good luck!
Ginger S. March 7, 2016
I love spanakopita but I do not make it that often. I love the idea of adding cottage cheese and dill in the mix. Now I will definitely have to make this recipe.
Heather A. March 6, 2016
My grandmother and I used to make something similar, and made our own phyllo as well. I am interested in how Nelly made her own phyllo, just to see if it is the same process as ours! Is there any way she might share that recipe as well?
Anna F. March 15, 2016
She gave it to me! I'll upload it soon!
Heather A. March 17, 2016
Wonderful! Thank you (and Nelly!)
FoodFanaticToo March 4, 2016
My community does not have access to fresh herbs in the winter -- and it is midwinter here -- can I use dried dill?
Dessito March 6, 2016
I do that all the time because I usually have all the other ingredients around the house, except for fresh dill. Its taste is more subtle in the final spanakopita than when I use fresh dill, but very good still.
Anna F. March 15, 2016
of course! good luck!
Anna F. February 8, 2016
Thanks for your feedback. I just realized Nelly and I both have convection ovens. So, I just adjusted notes to reflect 375 for a conventional oven. Thanks for catching that and I'm so honored you tried it. I love your idea for lightening it up with olive oil.
Deena B. February 6, 2016
Does this really bake for 1 1/2 hours? Mine has been in the oven for 40 minutes and if I leave it that long at 400 it will come out a burnt. Thinking I will take it out at 1 hour. Already lowered the temp to 350.
Anna F. February 8, 2016
I always bake for an hour and a half so that the end is nice and crisp. The first time i made it, i also took it out early and the end was a bit soggy. However, take it out at an hour and give it a check. Let me know.
Deena B. February 8, 2016
I did take it out after 1 hour, and it was not soggy. If I'd left it in for another half hour at 400, it would have been too dark (burnt) on top.
I also tweaked the recipe to use less butter by greasing the pan with olive oil and using 1/2 lb of clarified butter. I also added a little olive oil in the filling rather than butter. It was still very flavorful with a great texture. Thanks for this recipe. It was much less labor-intensive than I thought it would be.
Anna F. February 8, 2016
Thanks for your feedback. I just realized Nelly and I both have convection ovens. So, I just adjusted notes to reflect 375 for a conventional oven. Thanks for catching that and I'm so honored you tried it. I love your idea for lightening it up with olive oil.