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Spanokopita (dairy or parve)

It's motzei Shabbat and I'm watching Hurricane Irene work her way up the Eastern seaboard. Times Square is abandoned, the subways are closed and crazy CNN reporters cruise the empty streets of Lower Manhattan. Tsunami, wild fires, tornados and now hurricanes.....what the heck!

Working event after event, I am remiss in uploading recipes. Rushing about the kitchen for hours on end, my camera doesn't often surface to make a complete series of shots from start to finish of any item. I admit to being fairly exhausted...and, looking for something easy to post. Making spanokopitas last week, I do get the finished product shot. I'll have to add the step photos next time I make them.

I'm fussy about the filo dough I use. Filo Factory makes a nice organic variety in the wide width I prefer. One of the other major manufacturers (I can't remember which), makes a "country style" that is actually thicker. It is easier to handle but makes a more dense end result. The thinner dough yields a more flaky spanokopita. I find filo dough to be very forgiving to work with especially when slathering it with olive oil. If it tears, oil it and slap it together; who'll know?

As far as a recipe goes...hmmm, sort of wing it these days. Usually making hundreds at a time, I don't even know what a good 'home' quantity would be....12, 18 or 24? A box of fillo dough will make about 48 appetizer sized triangles. So, let's go with 15 - 18 pieces. If you have the time and space, you can make extra and freeze them unbaked for later. Or, some people like jumbo portions so you could make fewer larger ones.

Important tips: I like to use fresh baby spinach as it doesn't have tough stems. I usually wash it the night before I want to use it. Then, I spread it out on a large sheet pan and leave it to dry overnight. This removes most of the water and yields a much crispier end result. I learned this from the Sephardic women who use lots of spinach in their specialties. I add Parmesan and feta cheese to the coarsely chopped wilted spinach, a little pepper and an egg to help bind the filling together. That is it. I'll try to find the recipe I used before I just started eye-balling ingredients....and, take pictures next time I roll them up!

Oh, I do make these pareve sometimes by leaving out the cheese. I add a little salt and some minced onions for added flavor. They still taste great, at least I haven't heard any complaints.

Back to the, the reporter is holding a chain linked fence acting as a human measuring stick while standing in the rising water. My heart goes out to those in the East. Living in NYC for a couple of years and visiting often, it is hard to believe what I'm hearing on TV. I'm only glad Shabbos is over so everyone can watch the news and hope that the communities in Brooklyn and other environs are, with the Grace of Hashem, safe through the storm.


Kosher Status: Dairy
Number of servings: 15 pieces (or so)
Main Ingredient(s): Fillo Dough
Preparation Time: 00:20
Cooking Time: 00:10
Skill Level: 1 - Easy (1 Easy - 5 Hard)
Estimated POINT value:
Average Rating: 5/5


  • 1 box of filo dough (won't need it all)
  • 1 pound of baby spinach, washed and left to wilt/dry overnight
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • olive oil for brushing before rolling
  • egg wash for brushing after rolling
  • little more Parmesan cheese or sesame seeds for the tops


The night before, if you have time, wash the spinach and leave it on a cookie sheet overnight on the counter to dry. When you are ready to make the spanokopita, coarsely chop the spinach and put into a bowl.

Add the egg, pepper and cheese. Lightly mix to blend.

Take your box of filo dough (thawed) and cut 1/3rd of the roll off. Simply push your knife through the entire roll. Wrap the larger portion for future use. (Not sure if it'll freeze well again.)

Gently unroll the smaller piece of filo dough. Place as many strips on the countertop, narrow end towards you. Fold the remaining dough in half, still wrapped in the plastic it comes wrapped in, and set aside.

Brush the filo dough strip with olive oil. I generally fold one long edge over about 1" to narrow the strip a bit. It also forms a firmer edge on one side. Put about a tablespoon of filling on the narrow end closest to you.

Bring the lower right corner over the filling at an angle. Your next fold will be straight up including the filling. Your next roll will be to roll the lower left corner at an angle to the right. Then, straight again. Repeat until you reach the end. Place on a parchment lined cookie pan. Brush with beaten egg wash and sprinkle with extra Parmesan cheese or sesame seeds. Repeat until you use up the filling and dough, hopefully you'll pace yourself to run out at about the same time.

Bake at 350' until golden brown. Best served warm or room temperature. Don't wrap or cover tightly as this will cause them to turn soggy.

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Robin: This you tube video was so helpful! I'm not a big fan of parmesan cheese (I get migraines so easily from the simplest things) and I didn't have sesame seeds, but the recipe turned out perfect. I experimented by using safflower oil on a half of them just to see if there was a taste difference. The brand of olive oil I currently have has a very strong flavor so I was nervous I would not like that flavor on the filo. The safflower did seem a bit lighter but the olive oil turned out just fine. I did add a tiny spritz of lemon to my filling mixture. Thank you Leah for your wonderful cooking videos!
Leah: Thanks for letting me know. Often, I need a dairy-free version. I'll add a little parsley and dill, skip the cheese all together. You can also use the same technique with a ground beef or turkey filling. Yum!

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Spanokopita (dairy or parve)

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Hi! Thank you for stopping by to watch me, Leah, cook kosher. I've been the owner operator of my boutique catering firm in Seattle, Leah's Catering, for the past 14 years.

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