When I grow spinach, which is always, I think about the size of the harvest in terms of how much spanakopita it will make. “Ooo, terrific,” I say, “there’s two spanakopitas ready to pick on that plant alone.” The glutton’s version of a bushel.
Spinach has heralded the promise of salty feta and crunchy, buttery filo since I was little. It’s one of the first things I remember my Mum cooking. She made it often and it thrilled me every time – it seemed so exotic, which I suppose it was in the mid-80s.
Spanakopita was a dinner party favourite too – simple to make, unquestionably delicious and just unusual enough, back then, to make the cook look a little bit interesting. Though I do remember Mum, in her guests-for-dinner dangly earrings, leaping up from the sofa with a yelp and dashing to the kitchen as she remembered she had forgotten to add the egg to the filling. Scurrying behind to enjoy the commotion I watched as she whipped the incomplete pie from the oven, peeled off the filo top and cracked an egg straight into the middle. A quick mix with the end of a wooden spoon and the pie was bunged back in the oven, G&T in hand throughout. My first cookery lesson: everything is almost always salvageable.
My spinach gluts come in great waves and when they arrive you couldn’t hope to eat it all fresh. Instead I wilt it, refresh in cold water, wring it out, then freeze it for later – hence the call for frozen spinach in the recipe. If you’re buying your spinach, then bags of frozen organic leaves are a great option too and far more economical than the half dozen bags of fresh you’d need to make this pie.
Eat spanakopita warm or once it cooled. It’s great for packed lunches too. Don’t be tempted to omit the yogurt sauce – it’s essential to the whole spanakopita experience.