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What are Gluten-Free Spanakopitas?
Spanakopita meaning Spinach Pie in Greek is one of Greece’s signature dishes. It is either made into a pie and cut into slices or prepared as small bite-size pastries.
The filling is mainly made with spinach and feta or Kefalotyri cheese, but every household has their own take on the remaining ingredients, whether it has leeks instead of spring onions; more dill and less parsley; an extra herb like mint, etc. I’ve added some ricotta cheese to give it extra creaminess which works well with all the aromatic herbs and seasonings.
The pastry used is the infamous leaf-thin filo pastry (aka phyllo, meaning leaf in Greek) which is usually sold ready-made with gluten. As it is a tricky pastry to make very thin without gluten, very few food manufacturers have come up with a gluten-free filo pastry.
Homemade gluten-free filo pastry
Making homemade gluten-free filo is possible and turns out crispy and close to the real thing. It tastes great brushed with either melted butter or olive oil. It certainly had that crunch, but you do need to eat them warm, as they do lose their crispiness when they go stone-cold.
How large are spanakopita pastries?
I have made countless spanakopita pastries using my gluten-free filo, creating many different sizes depending on how large I create the circle in the pan. This is why I haven’t given out exact measurements, as that can be left up to you on how small or large you want your pastries.
Can you freeze spanakopitas?
They freeze well, so if you have made too many, pack them snuggly into a baking tray uncooked and cover them with plastic film several times. They can be cooked straight from frozen in the same baking tray providing you brush the tops with some melted butter or olive oil before baking. This is great to have handy for those unexpected visitors.
If you have extra filling, this freezes well on its own in an airtight container.
How do you assemble spanakopita?
Practice makes perfect! When it comes to assembling the spanakopita pastries, you will probably mess up the first few attempts, but don’t give up, you’ll get better and faster. If you need more guidance, watch my video to see how each step is done.
GLUTEN-FREE FILO PASTRY
SPINACH & FETA FILLING
- 330 g fresh or frozen spinach leaves, chopped finely & drained
- 1 small red onion, finely chopped
- 2 spring onions, finely chopped (soaked in cold water)
- 300 g feta cheese, crumbled
- 250 g ricotta
- 2 eggs
- 1 tbsp fresh dill
- 3 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped finely
- 1 tsp dried mint
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp store-bought or homemade gluten-free plain flour
- 2 tsp ground nutmeg
- salt & pepper, to taste
GLUTEN-FREE FILO PASTRY
- Mix the flours, xanthan gum and salt together in a medium bowl.
- Add 500ml warm water. Whisk well. The batter should be of a thin pouring consistency.
- Set aside covered for 20 minutes.
SPINACH & FETA FILLING
- Gather and measure all the feta and spinach filling ingredients.
- Squeeze out as much moisture from the spinach and mix it well into all the ingredients listed for the filling except for the egg. Use your hands to gently crumble the feta cheese into the spinach, ricotta, etc.
- Add the eggs and mix them into the spinach, using your hands or a large spoon. Cover and set aside.
Cooking the Filo Pastry
- Heat a crepe or medium frying pan to medium heat without adding any oil or butter.
- Pour a large serving spoon of batter in the middle of the dry pan and use the back of the spoon to spread the batter out into a circle shape.
- Use a spatula or crepe spreader utensil to spread the batter out. Add small amounts of batter at the edges if the circle needs to be larger. Keep spreading it out thinly each time you add more batter.
- Allow to cook for around 1 to 2 minutes, or until the sides start to crisp up and the pastry is easy to remove without sticking to the pan.
- Transfer the pastry to a sheet of baking paper and cut the pastry in half using a knife, brushing the top-facing side with melted butter, placing the other half on top of the cut half to form a semi-circle pastry. Alternatively, fold it in half after brushing it with melted butter (as shown in the video).
- Place a generous tbsp of spinach filling on the bottom half of the semi-circle pastry and fold over to the middle, pressing down firmly.
- Brush the folded part with butter.
- Fold again to form a triangle shape pastry.
- Brush with more butter and transfer to a lined baking tray.
Cooking the Spanakopitas
- When you are nearly finished assembling the spanakopitas, preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F.
- Either bake the spanakopita closely together in a baking tin (as shown in the photo) or separately on a baking tray (as in the video).
- Sprinkle some sesame seeds on top of each pastry if you like before baking.
- Bake on the middle shelf for 20 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and crisp.
- Allow to cool down slightly before serving.
- Keeps for 3 days chilled
- Best eaten warm. Reheat in the oven for 5 minutes covered with foil.
- Uncooked spanakopitas can be frozen. Bake directly from frozen.
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