The Best Spanakopita with Guy Fieri


Guy Fieri doesn’t suck as much as you think he sucks. Yes, his restaurant in Times Square is disgusting and his frosted tips are a disturbing reminder of a time when we used words like Napster and Y2K, and when iPhones were just a twinkle in Apple’s eye. A time before Instagram and a time of boy bands. Which is all to say that there are a lot of nasty things you can say about Guy Fieri but the dude knows how to host a Food Network show. I am referring of course to Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

Want to feel old? The show first appeared in 2006 which means 2016 marks its 10 year anniversary. The premise, if you need a refresher, is that Guy drives a bright red convertible to unhealthy tourist traps all over America. In an episode I watched recently on a flight after a particularly exhausting music festival, Guy goes to Baltimore. The only thing I remember about the episode was the spanakopita. A giant tray of sky-high spinach and feta pie. I could not stop thinking about this spanakopita. Day and night.

Food Network graciously posted the recipe online with a large caveat at the bottom: It’s a restaurant recipe, proceed with caution. Spanakopita is not a monumentally difficult dish to make so I decided to wing it, halved the recipe and left out some of the fancier ingredients like kefalotiri cheese which I couldn’t find at the Stop n Shop near my apartment. I had URGED friends to journey with me to Titan market in Astoria where there are 50,000 types of feta cheese, and likely kefalotiri cheese, but that was a bit ambitious for a Sunday. With a major makeover, this recipe was phenomenal. And even blasted in the microwave three days later, totally delicious. The spinach is still plump!
Trying a new thing where I list helpful information up front…
Level: Medium (you’ll need to sauté the spinach in batches and make sure it doesn’t burn)
Time: Start to finish about 2 hours
Tips: DEFROST your phyllo first. For like 2 hours. The scoring of the pie before you bake is super important.

Hearty Spanakopita Pie

Adapted from Sofia Vasiliades’s recipe of Sip ‘N Bite in Baltimore.

Serves 6+
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups finely chopped yellow onions
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
2 bags fresh spinach, roughly chopped (10-ounce bags)
1 cup chopped scallions
1 1/2 cups cubed feta
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh dill
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint
4 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 eggs + 1 for brushing the crust
4 tablespoons olive oil, for brushing
1/2 box Fillo dough (I used Athen’s brand)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Remove one of the phyllo rolls and let it defrost under a damp towel.

2. Heat 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil in large pot over medium heat. A tall pasta pot or dutch oven works best but you can also use a large frying pan. Sauté the garlic, onions and shallots until soft, about 5 minutes.

3. Add as much spinach as will fit and stir until it has wilted completely (about 5 minutes). Remove the greens and add another 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the scallions and the rest of the spinach. Depending on your pot size, you may need to do a third round of spinach. Remove the cooked spinach and onions to a large bowl.

4. Slowly fold in the feta, ricotta, parmesan, dill, mint, pepper, and nutmeg to the spinach. Beat the eggs in a small bowl with a fork and add to the mixture.

5. Brush a 15-by-10-inch rectangular pan with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Unroll the phyllo carefully so you don’t break it (it’s not the end of the world if you do). Grab a stack of 6 sheets and place at the bottom of the pan and brush with olive oil. Add another single sheet, brush with a little more olive oil then repeat twice more so you have a nice stack of 8 sheets as the base.

6. Pour in the spinach filling. It should be about 2 inches high. Add two layers of phyllo to the top and brush with olive oil. Repeat this until you have used up the rest of the roll (about 20 sheets). Then beat the remaining egg and brush that on top of the finished pie.

7. Now score the pie in portion sizes! This is the genius part of the recipe. Use a sharp serrated knife to cut deep into 9 large pieces. Bake for 50-60 minutes at 350, checking frequently at the 40-minute mark to make sure your phyllo doesn’t burn.

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