The filling is the traditional combination of English spinach and cheese - I use three types: a sharp, salty kefalograviera, a crumbly feta and a creamy ricotta. The sauce, made from blended tomatoes, fennel and chilli, is my twist on this classic Greek pie.
- 1 bunch English spinach, trimmed, shredded, rinsed, and thoroughly spun-dry
- 50 g kefalograviera (or similar hard, sharp, salty cheese), finely grated
- 250 g sharp, crumbly feta (preferably Greek)
- 150 g fresh ricotta
- 5 eggs, lightly beaten
- ¼ cup dry breadcrumbs
- ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 3 sprigs dill, finely chopped
- 6 spring onions, finely chopped
- 1 packet fresh filo pastry
- ⅓ cup butter, melted
- 8 ripe Roma tomatoes, blanched, peeled and seeds removed
- 2 spring onions, finely chopped
- ¼ bulb fennel, finely grated
- ½ tsp chilli sauce
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 handful chives, chopped
- 1 cup Greek yoghurt
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Equipment: eight 10 cm-diameter x 4 cm deep non-stick springform pans
For the spanakopita pies, combine all the ingredients up to the filo in a large bowl and mix well using your hands. Set aside for the flavours to meld while preparing the filo.
Preheat the oven to 170C. Line 2 large baking trays with baking paper.
Count 20 sheets of filo and cut in half widthways.
Take 5 sheets, keeping the remaining filo under a damp tea towel. Working quickly to prevent the pastry from drying, brush both sides of the first sheet with the butter. Use to line the base of a springform pan, allowing the excess pastry to hang over the edges. Place the next sheet at right angles to form a cross and brush with butter. Repeat with the remaining 3 sheets, layering at right angles and brushing with butter.
Place 1/3 cup filling in the centre of each pastry shell. Fold over the overhanging pastry, trim excess and tuck into sides of pan. Score a pattern on the top of the pastry to allow steam to escape while cooking. Place on a baking tray.
Repeat to make all 8 pies.
Bake the pies for 20-30 minutes, or until lightly golden. Remove from the oven and cool in the pans for 10 minutes before turning out.
For the sauce, place all the ingredients in a saucepan and purée with a stick blender. Place over medium heat, bring to a boil, then immediately remove from the heat and allow to cool a little.
To serve, ladle a circle of sauce around the perimeter of a shallow bowl, and place a pie in the centre. Sprinkle the sauce with the chives, and place a tablespoon of yoghurt on one side.
Photography, styling and food preparation by China Squirrel.
Peter Conistis is the head chef at Alpha. This recipe is from The Chefs' Line - a brand new series airing weeknights at 6pm on SBS. Can the passion of a home cook beat the skills of a professional chef? Missed all the action? Catch-up online and get all the recipes #TheChefsLine.
This recipe has been edited by SBS Food and may differ slightly from the series.