This spanakopita spiral recipe came out of my need to not waste food. I catered my cousins wedding and was left lots of leftover salad bits-spinach, feta and spring greens. My brain saw spinach pie, but I definitely didn’t have enough spinach to make it, but what if I used the spring greens mix? It has kale and swiss chard, which I knew would be fine, but I wasn’t sure how the other baby greens would behave. I figured I had nothing to lose, and I’m so glad I tried it. They make a great “spinach” pie, adding extra flavor and nutrients to the mix.
Preparing the Filling
The key to making the spanakopita spiral as crispy as possible is to wring out all moisture from the sauteed greens. The most common way to do this is to squeeze the greens in a dish towel or cheesecloth over the sink. I also like to use a salad spinner to get the bulk of the moisture off, then use my hands to take small batches and wring out the moisture.
Once the greens are ready, the rest of the filling is easy to assemble. Just combine everything and make sure to break up the clumps of greens. Adding the feta at the same time as the rest of the ingredients means it’ll be evenly distributed throughout in small pieces. If you prefer chunky feta like I do, add the feta after everything else has been mixed.
Phyllo Dough Basics
Despite the fancy appearance, making a spiral isn’t very difficult, it just requires a little patience. Anytime you use phyllo, you want to have a slightly damp cloth available. Covering the phyllo with a damp cloth ensures it doesn’t dry out and crack. Crispy phyllo is much harder to work with, especially when you need flexibility for rolling. You will also need a bowl of olive oil or melted butter and a pastry brush. Thinly coating each sheet with fat ensures it will stay flexible enough to bend.
To obtain that classic flaky phyllo texture, you must stack multiple pieces together to bake, and the oil or butter will act as a glue for each piece. For the spiral, three layers of phyllo is sufficient. If a sheet rips or breaks, just piece it back together and layer it. You will need three sets of three sheets for the spiral, but I prefer to work one at a time to ensure it stays as pliable as possible. You can assemble all three, and cover with a damp cloth if that’s easier for you.
Coat one piece of phyllo with oil or butter, and fold in half. Coat the top, then cut into thick strips to use as a patch.
Making the Spiral
After the sheet is layered and ready to go, it’s time to assemble the first part of the spiral. Take approximately 1/3 of the filling and make a log going across the bottom of the sheet, horizontally. Leave about two inches of phyllo at the bottom to wrap about the filling. Begin to roll up the filling loosely, forming a long roll. I like to have a little slack in the phyllo so forming the spiral is easier. It’s ok if it breaks, just patch it up.
Starting on one end of the log, roll the phyllo on itself to form a spiral. The center of the spiral is the trickiest to make, since the dough inherently does not want to flex that much. Make a loose spiral, then slowly tighten up, patching any splits as necessary. To attach the next log to spiral, pinch one end and form a “point”, then insert it into the open end of another piece. The joints will not be noticeable once the spanakopita spiral is all golden brown and delicious once baked. The outermost piece of the spiral is the easiest, since it will not need to bend very much compared to the center.
Choosing a Pan
If you have a false bottom pan, this is a great project for it. Line the bottom with parchment and form your spiral on the bottom, so you’ll know exactly how tight or loose it will need to be. If you don’t, just rip off a piece of parchment and outline a 8″ (or 9″ if necessary) cake pan on it. Flip the parchment over, and form your spiral within the guide you’ve given yourself. Once it’s completed, you can use the parchment to transfer into your pan.
Even though this seems like a difficult project, it’s very forgiving. The crispy, layered nature of baked phyllo means any patches or breaks won’t be noticed. However, if it seems too intimidating, simply make a classic spinach pie with the filling. I recommend doubling the filling or using a smaller pan since the filling is amount is scaled for the spanakopita spiral.
I hope you find this version of a spinach pie as fun as I did!
Spanakopita Spiral with Spinach and Spring Greens
- 9 sheets phyllo dough, plus extra for patching
- 1/2 cup olive oil or melted butter
- 1 pound spinach and spring greens
- 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/2 cup onion, chopped
- 3-4 tablespoons olive oil, for sauteing
- 6 oz feta
- 3/4 cup ricotta
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 each egg
- Preheat the oven to 375F. Prepare an 8" (or 9") springform or cake pan by lining with parchment.
- Working in batches, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add about a teaspoon of the minced garlic (equal to one clove) and cook until fragrant. Add a third of the mixed greens and cook until wilted, seasoning with salt.
- Remove the cooked greens and place in a colander to drain. Repeat cooking the remaining greens in two or three more batches as directed above.
- Remove the excess water from the greens by squeezing in a dish cloth or by making small balls and using your hands.
- While you remove the moisture from the greens, saute the onion in the same skillet with another tablespoon of oil until softened and lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
- In a large bowl, add the dry greens, onions, parsley, ricotta, salt, and eggs and mix until combined. Add the crumbled feta and mix until just combined, leaving large chunks if desired.
- Prepare the phyllo. Stack three sheets of phyllo together, brushing each one with melted butter or olive oil before adding on another sheet.
- Form a log horizontally on the phyllo sheet with one third of the filling. Leave two inches at the bottom of the sheet to form around the spinach filling, then roll loosely to form a log.
- Transfer the log to the parchment paper set aside for your pan. Beginning on one side, gently form a spiral, using extra coated phyllo as a patch if necessary.
- Repeat this (steps 7-9) two more times, adding to the spiral to make it large enough to fill the pan. To connect the pieces, pinch the end of one log and insert it into the end of another.
- Move the spanakopita spiral into your baking pan and brush the top liberally with melted butter or olive oil.
- Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until deeply golden brown on the top and lightly golden brown in the folds. Cool slightly before cutting and serving. Best eaten the day its made, but leftovers can be reheated in the oven to crisp.