Turkish-Style Spinach and Cheese Savory Pie Recipe
This Turkish-style spinach and cheese savory pie recipe, also known as börek, combines two types of cheeses with onion, parsley, spinach, dill, and a touch of nutmeg for a savory treat that is delicious for any meal or snack.
Working with Filo Dough
I know what you’re thinking: “but working with filo dough is so HARD, the last time I did it, it all fell apart.” Well, I’m going to tell you now that during the photo shoot for this blog post, it all fell apart on me too. I tried to take a shortcut with defrosting the filo dough (DON’T microwave it, it doesn’t work), and I ended up with about 1/3 of my filo dough in a dry pile on the counter. BUT, the other half of the filo dough was salvageable, and I was able to make this beautiful börek, as it’s known in Turkish. And yes, it is spanakopita in Greek.
Filo dough is a super thin unleavened what dough, and there are a couple of key steps to working with it:
1. Thaw it out overnight. Most filo in the U.S. comes frozen, so leave in the in the fridge overnight. And then 2 hours or so before you’d like to use it, pull it out and put it on the counter.
2. While you’re working with each individual piece of filo dough, brushing each with melted butter, cover the pile of filo dough with a barely damp towel. Some say this is not necessary, to just work quickly, but you know, life happens, and we’re not always working at a professional chef pace while putting together pastries (!). So keep that filo dough covered.
3. Be gentle. Unroll the filo dough gently. Pull it off gently. It requires a gentle touch and some patience, but I know you can do it!
The Thanksgiving Table
A few years ago my mom decided that this spinach and cheese pie needed to be on the Thanksgiving table for our family’s annual gathering. Well, it never left, and now stakes its claim as one of the only green items on our plates. Yes, it’s filled with butter and cheese (which aren’t bad for you by the way), It’s perfect for Thanksgiving b/c it can be made ahead of time, precooked and reheated, or precooked and served at room temperature. So no fighting over oven space.
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 10- oz. packages frozen spinach, thawed, drained, and pressed to remove extra liquid*
- ½ lb. feta cheese, crumbled
- ¾ cup cottage cheese
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup chopped green onions
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh dill, optional
- ½ teaspoon salt**
- 8-10 grinds freshly ground black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 1 pound filo dough, thawed*** (1 package)
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
In a medium pan, Cook onion over medium heat in butter until soft (do not let brown), about 7-8 minutes.
Add spinach and cook gently until any excess moisture has evaporated. Remove pan from heat, and add feta cheese, cottage cheese, eggs, green onion, parsley, dill, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 400. Brush a 11”x 15” or 9" X 13" baking pan with melted butter.
Unroll filo dough carefully on the counter. Carefully place pan you will be using on top of the filo pile and trim filo along the edges so the filo dough is the same size as the pan.
Peel off one sheet of trimmed filo dough at a time and carefully lay in a single layer in the pan. Brush with melted butter. In between pulling off sheets of filo, cover filo pile with a damp towel. Working quickly, lay 10 sheets, brushing each with butter, into baking pan.
After laying down 10 sheets with butter, pour filling over top and spread evenly.
Continue filling pan with remaining filo and melted butter layers.
Cut fully assembled pie (before baking) into pieces. Anywhere from 10-15 pieces for a 11" X 15” pan.
Bake for 30-40 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let sit at least 15 minutes before serving. Re-cut and serve!
*Fresh Spinach may also be used. You will need 2 ½ pounds or or so of fresh spinach. Just steam it, squeeze, and drain it, and carry on with the recipe.
**Be conservative with adding salt at first, as feta and cottage cheese can both be salty. Adjust flavor after all ingredients are combined.
***Thaw filo by leaving in the refrigerator overnight. Place on counter for 2 hours before using.