- 1/4 c olive oil (60ml)
- 1 red onion chopped finely
- 4 leeks, or 6 small white part only, sliced
- 3 garlic cloves crushed
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper freshly ground
- 8 spring onions sliced
- 600 g spinach defrosted or wilted fresh english spinach
- 2/3 c fresh continental parsley chopped (packed - 40g)
- 1/4 c fresh dill chopped (packed)
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 150 g ricotta
- 200 g feta crumbled
- 100 g fresh parmesan cheese finely grated (I use Parmigiano Reggiano)
- 5 eggs lightly beaten
- zest of 1 large lemon, or 2 small fine
- 100 g butter melted, for brushing pastry (see notes)
- 375 g filo pastry packet
Preheat the oven to 180°C.Grease the baking dish with melted butter and set aside. Make sure the filo pastry has been defrosted overnight in the fridge ready for use later.
To Prepare Spinach: If using fresh spinach, wilt them first by washing them and chopping them finely. Place the wet leaves into a frying pan over medium heat, stirring all the time, until they are softened. This wont take long. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Take a clean towel and lay it flat on the bench. Put the defrosted frozen spinach (or the cooled wilted spinach) into the middle of the tea towel and draw up the corners and sides to enclose the spinach. Stand over the sink and squeeze down on the spinach to remove as much moisture as you can. Keep repeating this until the spinach is dry. This is an important step as the spinach must be as dry as possible. Remove the drained spinach and place in a bowl. Separate the spinach as much as you can so it is not clumped together. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the chopped onions, leeks and salt and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are softened and translucent. Add the garlic and spring onions and cook for 3 minutes more. Reduce the heat to medium/low if you need to during this time as we don’t want the onion mixture to brown.
Remove from the heat, and add the prepared spinach to the onion mixture, making sure you distribute the spinach, so it’s not clumping - use a fork or spoon to help break it up. Adding the spinach would have cooled the mixture slightly, so it's now time to add all the other ingredients in the following order:Add the parsley, dill, nutmeg, black pepper, lemon zest and mix lightly. Then add the ricotta, crumbled feta (no big chunks), parmesan and lightly beaten eggs and mix gently until everything is well combined. At this stage, check for seasoning and add more salt if required. Set mixture aside while you prepare the pastry.
To assemble the pie
Firstly, take the filo pastry from the fridge, open the packet and unroll the pastry. Lay it out flat on the bench near where you will be working, and place a 'just damp' clean tea towel over the top of the filo to prevent it from drying out. For a rectangle pie:Take one sheet of filo and lightly brush it with melted butter. Place it flat, into the bottom of the baking dish so it’s centred and goes up all sides. Brush another sheet of filo with butter and place it directly on top of the first one. Repeat this with 8 more sheets of filo (10 in total for the base). Try not to press down hard on the layers as you are placing them on top of each other. Now add the cooled spinach filling over the top and spread out, so it is nice and even. Brush another sheet of filo pastry lightly with butter and lay this first one butter side down (helps prevent soggy pastry), over the top of the filling to form the lid. Brush the top lightly with butter as well. Brush a second sheet of filo and layer on top of the previous sheet, butter side up. Repeat until you have 6-8 layers (I usually do 6 for the top). Enclose the pie by folding in the overhanging sides of pastry so the filling is fully enclosed. Tuck in any other bits and brush the top and sides with butter making sure the sides are sticking to the top. Optional: Take a sharp knife and score the pastry (not all the way through to the filling) into squares or rectangles (this helps with cutting once it’s cooked. I always do this when I cook it in a rectangle dish). Brush some milk along the score marks as this stops the edges from flaking up.For a round pie in a tart tin:Take a sheet of filo pastry and brush lightly with butter. Place into the bottom of the greased tin, letting it hang over the edge Brush another sheet of filo and lay it on top of, but just off to the side, at a slight angle to the first. Keep repeating this process with 12 more sheets of filo so the whole base and sides are well covered. You want to have overhang with all the sheets as they will be folded over the top of the filling. Place the cooled filling into the tart tin and spread evenly. Take another sheet of filo and lightly butter, then butter and add another 2 sheets on top of it. Take this triple sheet and put on top of the pie into the centre, scrunching it up slightly. Now bring all the overlapped sides of pastry into the middle over the top of the lid and scrunch them up a bit to enclose the top and make it all look a little ruffled (see photo). Brush the top all over with butter. To Cook: Place the pie into the preheated oven and cook for 40-50 minutes or until the filling is set. If the filo is browning too quickly at the 25-30 minute mark, place a piece of tin-foil loosely over the top of the pie and continue baking to allow the eggs to cook through. Once cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15-20 minutes before slicing as the pie needs this time to set. Best eaten warm or at room temperature. Storage: Keeps well in the fridge for 3-4 days. Delicious cold, but it can also be reheated gently in the oven (cover with tin foil to prevent further browning).
For a healthier option, you can use olive oil to brush the filo pastry sheets, instead of butter, or use a 50/50 mix of butter and olive oil. I often do the latter.
You can also spray with olive oil.
Please read 'Ingredients' and 'Method Tips' in the post section before starting this recipe.
Calories: 540kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 34g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Cholesterol: 172mg | Sodium: 1061mg | Potassium: 718mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 9187IU | Vitamin C: 38mg | Calcium: 449mg | Iron: 6mg