Have you ever indulged in spanakopita? Those delightful handheld triangle spinach pies, known for their flaky, crunchy, and tangy flavors?
Have you ever pondered how to make these delectable pastries, brimming with spinach and feta cheese, enveloped in delicate phyllo dough? The good news is, you can create these exquisite pies right in the comfort of your own kitchen.
This beloved savory pastry holds a special place in the hearts of many, particularly in the Eastern Mediterranean region. It’s a culinary gem found predominantly in Greece and Armenia, going by the names spanakopita in Greek and spanakov nazuk or borek in Armenian.
So let’s start making these spinach phyllo pies!
Table of Contents
My Cooking Class – Making Armenian Spinach Borek
I brought a tray of freshly baked spinach pies (spanakopita) to a “Gather Around The Table” event, and they were a hit! As it was a food lover’s club, everyone expressed a desire to learn how to make these Armenian spinach pies. The event’s hostess, along with the group, offered to organize a cooking class, and I eagerly signed up to teach.
I made the class hands-on, giving participants the confidence to work with phyllo dough and create their own delicious pies. Each participant had their own baking sheet, ensuring they could take their creations home with them. It was a wonderful experience of sharing, learning and eating together!
Grocery and Pantry List for Spanakopita
Substitutions and vegan option
Spanakopita Recipe Steps at a Glance
This spinach pie recipe can be broken down into the following steps:
How to Make Armenian Spinach Borek Step by Step
Step 1: Cutting the phyllo dough
I’ve discovered that it’s more manageable to cut the paper-thin sheets of phyllo dough into strips. Start by unrolling the bundle of phyllo sheets and, along the longest side of the sheet, score it into six equal parts. Then, cut along these scored lines to create the strips. Wrap the strips in plastic film to keep them ready for use. Don’t worry about being overly precise, as phyllo dough is forgiving and can easily be worked with.
Step 2: Blanching the spinach and the chard
If using fresh spinach, begin by thoroughly washing and cleaning the leaves. Boil a pot of water and blanch the spinach in the boiling water for about a minute, until the leaves are wilted and the stems have softened. Use a slotted spoon to remove the blanched spinach and place in a colander to cool and drain.
For Swiss chard, separate the stems and set them aside. Blanch the chard leaves in the same boiling water after the spinach is done. Once blanched, remove the leaves and allow them to drain.
After the spinach and chard have cooled down, take a clean tea towel and use it to squeeze out as much liquid as possible from the cooked vegetables.
Finally, chop and shred the cooked vegetables as needed and store them until you’re ready to use them.
Step 3: Sautéing onions and making the filling
Start by dicing the onions and the Swiss chard stalks. Proceed to cut the white parts of the scallions and chop them, as well as the green parts. Heat the oil in a sauté pan and add the diced onions. Sauté them over medium heat until they turn translucent. Then, introduce the chopped scallions and diced chard, cooking for an additional 2-3 minutes. Add the chopped spinach and thoroughly combine the mixture. Season with salt, pepper, and paprika, but go easy on the salt due to the naturally salty feta.
Transfer the cooked mixture to a bowl. Incorporate the chopped green parts of the scallions, parsley, and crumbled feta. Give it a thorough mix and taste for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if necessary. In a separate bowl or cup, whisk an egg and gradually incorporate it into the spinach mixture. Stir well and set aside for further use.
Step 4: Melting the butter
You will need to melt the butter or ghee making it more spreadable. Place the butter in a sauce pan and place it on the stove. Wait until the butter is fully melted. The milk solids will settle on the bottom. Slowly transfer into the container and leave the white milk solids behind.
Step 5: Folding the phyllo dough with the filling
Prepare your assembly station. Have the phyllo dough strips with a towel covering one side, while placing the filling and melted butter on the other side.
Start by laying a few strips on your work surface (side by side), and brushing them with the clarified butter. Place a second strip over the first and brush it as well. Repeat this process one more time for a total of 3 layers. (Applying butter to the edges of the dough will make it more pliable and less prone to breaking.)
Take a teaspoonful of the prepared filling and place it at the bottom of the strip, leaving about two fingers’ width from the bottom edge. Now, fold the bottom section over the filling, taking the left bottom corner and folding it over to the right. This will align the bottom edge with the right edge, creating a triangle shape.
Next, fold the right corner towards the left, aligning the bottom edge with the left. Continue this folding motion until you reach the end of the strip. Seal the ends together and set the folded piece aside or place on a baking tray for further use.
Step 6: Baking the Spinach Borek
Preheat the oven to 375° F (190°C).
Arrange the triangles on a baking sheet (on top of parchment); making sure they are not touching each other.
Whisk an egg, and brush it over the pies. Sprinkle with sesame, poppy or nigella seeds.
Bake for 30-35 min until golden.
Best Ways to Serve
Tips and Wisdom from Cafe Osharak
Frequently Asked Questions
What to serve with spanakopita triangles?
This spanakopita triangles are best when served hot, fresh out of the oven. They go well with cool yogurt dips or fresh green salad.
How to fold spanakopita triangles?
The folding technique can vary from cook to cook, but a favorite method is to position the filling about an inch above the edge of the phyllo dough. Then, fold the edge over to secure the filling, and continue folding diagonally, as if you were folding a flag. You can refer to the photos above in step number 5 for a visual guide.
Can you freeze spanakopita triangles?
These spinach pies are excellent candidates for freezing. Arrange the pre-made, uncooked pies on a sheet in a single layer and freeze them. Once frozen, you can stack them together, separating each with parchment paper, and store them in a sealed container or bag in the freezer.
When you’re ready to enjoy them, simply place the frozen spinach pies on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven. No need to thaw before baking – it’s that convenient and delicious!
More Recipes to Try From Cafe Osharak
If you try out this recipe, I would love to hear from you. Let me know if you find it delicious and straightforward to prepare. I am here to answer any questions and provide any suggestions. Also, be sure to explore other recipes from Cafe Osharak, as I’m sure you’ll love them too!
More Mediterranean and Middle East recipes.
Armenian Spinach Pie – Spanakhov Nazuk
- 1 lb Spinach blanched and drained 500 g
- 1 bunch Swiss Chard blanched and drained
- 2 tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1 cup onion finally diced
- 3 -4 scallions green onions
- 1 tablespoon parsley
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 egg
- 6 ounces feta cheese 150 g
- 1 cup butter melted
- 16 oz phyllo dough thin
- 1 egg for egg-wash
- Nigella seeds optional
- Sesame seeds optional
- Separately blanch the spinach and swiss chard leaves in boiling water until wilted.1 lb Spinach, 1 bunch Swiss Chard
- Drain, let cool and squeeze out the liquid with the use of a clean kitchen towel.
- Sauté onions in 2 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the finely chopped ribs of the chard and white parts of the scallions and cook unit translucent and slightly golden.1 cup onion, 3 -4 scallions, 2 tablespoon Olive Oil
- Add previously chopped spinach, moderately seasoned with salt, pepper, and paprika. (remember feta can be salty).1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon paprika
- Allow the liquid to evaporate as much as possible and mix in parsley and green parts of the scallions.1 tablespoon parsley
- Let it cool completely.
- Add the diced or crumbled feta and mix in with spinach. Taste and adjust salt if needed.6 ounces feta cheese
- Lightly beat the egg and fold into the mixture and set it aside.1 egg
Melted Butter (or Ghee)
- Place the butter in a sauce pan and gently heat it until the butter is fully melted. The milk solids will settle on the bottom.1 cup butter
- Transfer the melted butter into a bowl and try to leave the white residue behind.
- Open a package of phyllo dough. Usually they come in 12×21 sized sheets. Divide the sheets into six so you have 12×7 stripes. Stack them together and cover with the plastic wrap and clean towel.16 oz phyllo dough
Making the pies
- Preheat the oven 375° F (190°F).
- Take one stripe and brush with melted clarified butter. Put the second sheet on top of it and brush it again and top it with the third sheet.
- To expedite the process prepare several strips if the work surface will allow.
- Place a spoonful of filling 1-inch from the bottom edge.
- Fold the bottom side over the filling, then fold it from left side over right. Keep triangular folds until you have a perfect triangle. Use the visual picture in the post.
- Arrange the pies into a baking sheet and ensure to leave space in between.
- Whisk the egg and brush gently over the pies.1 egg
- Sprinkle with nigella, poppy, or sesame seeds (if using) and bake for 30-35 min until golden.Nigella seeds, Sesame seeds