The first time that I cooked this it was to take along to a badly planned dinner party which involved several vegetarians and a huge chunk of slow roasted lamb. I was looking for something quick and simple, that would look beautiful, taste exciting and that wouldn’t clash with anything else on the table.
I found some filo pastry in the freezer and decided that this simple Greek inspired pie seemed like it might do the trick, and it turned out to be better than I had possibly imagined.
Since then I’ve gone back to this recipe a few times, not as a rescue dish or an alternative to anything, but sitting proudly centre stage, because it is just incredibly yummy.
It just ticks so many boxes, what’s not to love about it?
✔ Looks great
✔ Tastes fantastic
✔ Healthy (ish)
The ingredients matter!
This is a super simple recipe, there are only five ingredients, and so to get the best out of it they all have to be right.
Feta is PDO (Protected Designation of Origin), which means that if you buy it within the EU it must have been made from sheep or goat milk harvested in Greece. You could use a similar cheese made elsewhere, as long as it tastes and feels right, but really nothing else seems to be quite as good. For example, Danish Apetina is made in the same way, but it’s a poor substitute.
Feta should be crumbly and salty, it should not be made from cow’s milk, and it won’t be too cheap. Anything labelled as ‘salad cheese’ or ‘greek style cheese’ is just not up to the job.
Although it’s a Greek inspired dish, the sun-dried tomatoes don’t have to be from Greece, the best I ever ate were from Gozo. It really doesn’t matter where they come from as long as they are packed with flavour. Reduce the food miles and save some money by buying the best local sun-dried tomatoes you can find, or as local as you get if you live in the cold north somewhere. Actually even the cold north gets summer and Rima’s mum manages to make some pretty great dried tomatoes in Lithuania.
Which just leaves the pastry. I’ve never made filo pastry because I’ve never had reason to. Shop bought versions are excellent, and it seems like a huge amount of work for a result that is unlikely to be much better. If you want to try then Ecosia (or your search engine of choice) will have thousands of recipes.
The recipe (but not for pastry)
You will need:
- Fresh spinach leaves – 200g
- Sun-dried tomatoes in oil – 175g
- Feta – 100g
- Filo pastry – 4-5 sheets
- Eggs – 2
and then you simply:
- Put the oven on to heat up at 180°C (350°F).
- Cut any thick stalks off of the spinach and put the leaves into a large pan. Throw a couple of spoons of water into the pan with it, and cook over a medium heat until the spinach has wilted slightly. Slightly is the key word here, don’t cook it until it has all disappeared. Pour it into a colander and leave to drain for a few minutes.
- Drain the tomatoes, but keep the oil that they came in, then roughly chop them and put them into a bowl.
- When the spinach is cool enough to touch, squeeze as much water as you can out of it, roughly chop it, and put it into the bowl with the tomatoes.
- Add the eggs and crumble the feta into the bowl, then mix everything together well.
- Brush the first sheet of pasty with the oil from the tomatoes, and lay it oil side down in a 22cm loose bottomed cake tin. The pastry will be too big for the tin and some of it will go up the sides and overhang. Repeat this with the other sheets of pastry with each one slightly turned around from the last, so that the sides are covered evenly.
- Put the filling into the tin on top of the pastry, and then fold the hanging edges over, so that they meet in the centre. Scrunch them together at the middle, make sure that there is no hole, and brush the top with the oil.
- Bake in the middle of the oven for about half an hour until it is crisp and golden.
Cut the pie into decent size wedges, and serve it with a simple salad and preferably a glass of something cold and crisp and white.
It’s delicious straight from the oven or cold later, but the pastry will start to lose that lovely crispness if you leave it for too long.
If you are in the mood for a bit more Greekishness then check out Rima’s recipes for Tzatziki and Greek Salad.