A Greek classic from Felicity Cloake.
Mix and match your greens. Spanakopita traditionally contains adult spinach but if you have chard, watercress, rocket or even young kale or nettles, you can substitute those instead (handling nettles with gloves and care)..
If you stick with spinach, seek out the adult leaves for this dish; baby spinach has a tendency to melt into an unsatisfactory green mush. It t is usually available in greengrocers or markets – or in the freezer section, though make sure you get whole leaf, and defrost and squeeze it dry first.
To prepare the fresh spinach, trim the bottom off the stalks, then roughly chop the leaves and finely chop the stems. Put in a colander with a generous sprinkle of salt, stand in a sink and massage the leaves with your hands until they wilt into a tractable mess (if you’re using frozen, defrosted stuff, just roughly chop it), then leave to drain.
Meanwhile, peel and finely chop the red onion (or trim and finely chop the leek) and slice the spring onions. Heat the oil in a wide frying pan over a medium-low heat, and fry the onion (or leek) until softened but not browned. Take off the heat, immediately stir in the spring onions, then tip into a large bowl.
Crumble the feta into the bowl. Roughly chop the herbs, discarding the woody stems from the mint, then add to the bowl with the bulgur wheat, if using; it’s not a common ingredient in spanakopita, but it does help soak up the liquid from the spinach, and it gives the pie a more interesting texture. Rice will do much the same job.
Wring out the spinach with your hands until no more water comes out (it should look thoroughly wilted by this point), then stir into the cheese bowl. Crack in the eggs and add the lemon zest, a glug of olive oil and a good grating of nutmeg, and mix again (again, hands are the best tool for this). Season lightly: feta is quite salty as it is.
Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6. Brush a 30cm x 25cm baking tin with olive oil, then line with half the filo, brushing each sheet with oil as you go (a spray is useful here, if you have one); take care not to press the sheets down too hard, otherwise they’ll compact. Leave any excess pastry hanging over the sides.
Spoon in the filling, level out the top, then repeat the layering process with the remaining pastry to make a lid. Fold the overhang inwards to create an edible rim, drizzle with more oil and cut into the desired portion sizes. Bake for about 30-40 minutes, until golden. Leave to cool slightly, or completely, before serving.