Greek Indian Fusion
Apparently it is Greek week! Paneer spanakopita that is eggless and can be made ahead of time. Paneer is used mainly in dishes from Punjab. Being a Gujarati family, we didn’t eat it often. Mainly at Indian weddings because Punjabi food is like a staple at them! But in recent years I love using paneer in dishes that we normally do not use it in because it is so adaptable of an ingredient. When it isn’t the star of the dish it can also be used in a healthy quantity.
What about the paneer spanakopita already?
Spanokopita is a Greek spinach pie made using flaky layers phyllo (filo) dough. So, this isn’t palak paneer pie, although I’m sure that would taste delish. I’ve used most of the ingredients of traditional spanokopita but added a little extra garlic and a lot extra spice. Adjust accordingly to your spice tolerance. I like flavorful meals and have a good spice tolerance.
What are the ingredients?
- Fresh: Spinach, dill, garlic, onions and parsley
- Cheese: Paneer, ricotta and feta
- Spices: red chili flakes, oregano, salt, black pepper
- Other: phyllo dough, olive oil and sesame seeds
Working With Phyllo
- Don’t forget to defrost the phyllo
- Move it from the freezer to the fridge overnight giving it about 10-12 hours
- If you work slow, cover the phyllo sheets with a damp towel when putting the dish together. I do not do this but if you get interrupted a lot while cooking, it will help prevent the phyllo from drying out.
- If it rips it is no big deal. It is pretty forgiving.
Can spanokopita be made in advance?
Yes, this can be made ahead of time and frozen. I have made the spanokopita in an easy casserole style but you can also make them into triangles (kind of like samosa).
Once you put it together in the pan you can cover and freeze it (pre-baked). You can bake it frozen without thawing but add an extra 15 minutes to the baking time.
Can spanokopita be reheated?
It is best eaten fresh out of the oven! If you do have leftovers, reheat in the oven at 350F for about 15 minutes. If you microwave it, it will get soggy.
Paneer Spanokopita Recipes
- 2 lbs fresh baby spinach chopped, rinsed and well drained
- 1 tbsp chopped dill
- 1/2 cup parsley chopped
- 3/4 cup chopped onions
- 3 large garlic cloves minced
- 1/2 cup ricotta
- 3/4 cup paneer crumbed/chunks
- 1/2 cup feta
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp red chili flakes (reduce to 1/2 if you do not like spicy food!)
- 1/2 tbsp oregano
- 1 16 oz phyllo dough defrosted
- 3 tbsp olive oil for cooking
- 1/4 cup olive oil for phyllo sheets
- salt to taste
- sesame seeds for topping, optional
- Heat pan. Add in fresh spinach and cook down (should only take 3-4 minutes). Remove spinach and put aside to cool. Once cooled, use a paper napkin to pick up spinach and squeeze out excess moisture over sink. Set aside.
- Heat oil in pan. Saute onions until translucent and add in garlic. Cook for 1-2 more minutes, mixing.
- Add in spinach, parsley and dill. Add in spices (oregano, red chili flakes, black pepper) Cook for 5-6 minutes letting some of the moisture evaporate. Turn off stove and remove from flame.
- Add in paneer, feta and ricotta. Mix to combine. Taste an add salt according to your preference. Feta is salty, you may not need any.
- Cut phyllo sheets if needed to fit your pan. Preheat oven to 375F.
- Butter pan. Lay a base of 8 phyllo sheets one by one, spreading olive oil on each with a pastry brush.
- Spread spinach mixture evenly over phyllo base layer
- Repeat layering of 8 more sheets on top, putting olive oil evenly on each (even on top layer!). Cut into desired shape and size. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top.
- Bake in oven for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown on top. Serve warm!