Growing up, Spanikopita, a Greek lamb and spinach filo pie, was a regular family meal and was definitely one of my favourites. Having made it myself a few times, I know why it was also one of my mum’s favourite recipes. It is pretty easy to make, most people enjoy it, and the leftovers make a perfect lunch the next day.
Unfortunately, I had a few hiccups in making mum’s recipe. Firstly, with lashings of melted butter spread between each layer of filo pastry and an enormous amount of cheese, there was too much saturated fat for simple natural nutrition. Secondly, in the interest of household harmony, the idea of meatless meals has (temporarily) gone out the window in my house, so the traditional recipes needed some modifications.
My Modified Version of Lamb and Spinach Filo Pie
If you have never worked with filo pastry before, don’t be intimidated. It is pretty easy to work with, and if you rip the pastry, it’s no biggy. Just layer another piece onto it, and no one will ever know.
Most recipes for filo ask you to brush each layer of pastry with melted butter. By itself, filo pastry is low in fat and relatively low in kilojoules, so spreading it with lashes of butter is a very quick way to turn healthy food into a very unhealthy one. So instead, brush each layer with milk which has pretty much the same effect.
As I said, I decided to add some meat, so keeping with the greek theme, I used some lamb mince flavoured with lemon, garlic and some herbs and sandwiched it between layers of spinach and feta mix.
Finally, I used less feta and added some low-fat ricotta. The ricotta gives a creamy texture and helps to bind the spinach but had far less salt than feta.
The result was pretty tasty, but both hubby and I thought something was missing. BUT, when I had some leftovers for lunch the next day, it was super delicious! So next time I make this, I might make the pie up the day before and let it sit in the fridge for 24 hours before baking it to allow the flavours to develop.
Lamb and Spinach Filo PiePrint Recipe
- 500 grams of lamb mince
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 onion finely chopped
- zest of 1 lemon
- ground coriander
- ground cumin
- 180 grams of feta cheese
- 250 grams of light ricotta cheese
- 500 grams of frozen chopped spinach, thawed
- 3 eggs lightly beaten
- 6-7 sheets of filo pastry
- milk to brush
- Preheat oven to 180c. Fry 1 clove garlic and onion in a frypan until soft. Add mince and fry until browned. Add spices to taste and 1/2 of lemon rind. Cook 1 minute further. Remove from pan and place in a bowl.
- Fry remaining garlic in the same pan and add the spinach. Cook for about 3 minutes, add remaining zest, stir and remove from heat.
- In a large bowl, mix egg, ricotta, feta and spinach.
- Lightly grease a pie dish. Layer the filo sheets over the dish, allowing the sheet to hang over the edge. Brush pastry lightly with milk between layers.
- Place half the spinach mixture onto the pastry. Top with lamb mixture and top with remaining spinach.
- Fold overhanging pastry over spinach and lamb mix. Lightly brush the top of the pie with milk.
- Bake for about 20 minutes until golden.