Two of the most popular pites (pies) are the spanakopita (spinach pie) and the tiropita (cheese pie. Every region in Greece has their own regional variation and every famly has their own special recipe for these.
I grew up eating and loving both. Now, you may ask why I would publish two difference pites in one post. Well it is because I always make them on the same day. My papou and yiayia taught me this, and it allows me to satisfy everyones tastes. My husband, George prefers the tiropita and I prefer the spanakopita.
I have very early memories of helping yiayia and papou makes individual pites. They always made triangluar shapes. Now the genius was that because they made individual pies, they would butter them and freeze them unbaked in layers. Then when we felt like having some, or when a guest would visit, we would easily bake a few because we had them on hand! GENIUS!!!!
One great tip that I learned was to make the tiropita filling first and reserve roughly 1/3 cup of it to mix into the spanakopita filling.
Now the great thing here is that you can make them in any shape you want. This post will show you how to roll them into a spiral. My mother in law is the person who taught me the spiral. For this method you will need 1 package of phyllo dough sheets.
The authentic Greek cheese used in these recipes are feta and fresh mizithra.
Choose a good quality feta. The best and creamiest that you can find. You should prefer feta that is packaged in brine, so that it is not dry. The feta containers usually come with 2 pieces of feta the size of your hand.
If you can not find fresh mizithra at your market, then you can very easily substitute it with ricotta, farmers or cottage cheeses.
Ingredients for the fillings.
16 oz container of feta
16 oz container of mizithra or ricotta.
1 pinch of chopped dill
1 pinch of chopped parsley
1 tsp of dry oregano
1 tbsp olive oil
1 beaten egg
1 bunch of spinach
1 bunch of dill
1 bunch spring onions/ scallions
1 bunch parsley
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 cup of the tiropita mixture from above
1 tsp dry oreganos
1 beaten egg
For the phyllo:
1 stick melted unsalted butter
1 package of phyllo
Preheat the oven to 400F
In a large bowl mix all of the tirpoita ingredients. You want to crumble up the feta very well. Mix it with the mizithra, egg and herbs. Add salt and pepper. Set aside.
Finely chop the spinach, dill, spring onions, parsley and place in a second large mixing bowl. Add in the 1/4 cup of the tiropita mixture Add salt, pepper, oregano and the egg. Mix it all together.
Melt the stick of butter.
Now I like to use two large sheet pans. One becomes my work space for laying out the phyllo and rolling. You can simply use your counter or tabel space for this. Line the second pan with a sheet of parchment. This is the one you are going to bake your pites in.
Something important to know about phyllo is that you need to work quickly. It is delicate, and dries out fast. I will roll the filling with two sheets at a time for extra crunch, and because I am generous with the filling in it.
Lay out the sheets in the pile that they come in on your workspace. Across the long side nearest to you, spoon in a row of your filling. Right along the egde. Then you want to drizzle butter on the parts without the filling. You will roll it to the opposite end, forming a log. Then you will gently turn it inward to create a spiral. Place that piece onto the pan. Repeat this step and when you have rolled it into a log, then you connect it to the end of the first spiral, and wrap this new piece around it. Continue this till your first filing is finished.
Then you will do the same with the other filling.
Finally butter them very well and bake them for around 40-50 minutes. This will depend on your oven. Mine takes closer to 50 minutes to achieve that gorgeous golden brown color. Start checking your oven at around 30 minutes or so.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
I recently taught my recipes for this on a web series called My Kolorful Kitchen. Thank you Aparna for having me! 🥰
Give her a follow on her blog http://www.mykolorfulkitchen.com
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