From the Chronicle Kitchen
Potpies by Elinor Klivans
Greek Three-Cheese, Spinach, and Onion Potpie
My potpie version of the Greek cheese and spinach turnover called spanikopita loads the traditional filling with ricotta, feta, and jack cheese, fresh dill and parsley, and uses store-bought phyllo pastry for the crisp topping. Its generous size and do-ahead preparation make it an ideal party dish. To serve a really big crowd, double the ingredients and bake it in two baking dishes. It is easy to keep phyllo pastry soft and pliable as long as it is carefully covered with plastic wrap and a damp dish towel while you are working with it.
Makes 12 servings
Cooking the filling: 5 minutes
Potpie baking: 350ºF for about 45 minutes
6 phyllo pastry sheets (about 13 by 17 inches), thawed if frozen
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups finely chopped onions (2 medium)
Two 10-ounce packages thawed frozen chopped spinach
One 15- or 16-ounce container ricotta cheese (2 cups); part skim is fine
8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (1 1/2 cups)
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded jack cheese
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Butter a 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking dish.
Prepare the phyllo pastry: Lay out the phyllo pastry sheets and stack them. Use plastic wrap to roll up and tightly rewrap any leftover phyllo and refrigerate it for up to 1 week. Using the bottom of the baking dish as a guide, use kitchen scissors to cut 6 pieces of phyllo that are 1 inch larger all around than the baking dish. Immediately cover the cut sheets of phyllo completely with plastic wrap and a damp dish towel. Set aside while you make the filling.
Make the filling: In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat for about 1 minute. Add the onions and cook until they soften, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Set aside.
Rest a strainer over a medium bowl, put the spinach in the strainer, and use a large spoon to press firmly on the spinach to press out the liquid. Discard the liquid.
In a large bowl and using a large spoon, stir the onions, drained spinach, ricotta, feta, jack cheese, eggs, dill, parsley, salt, and black pepper together to combine them. Spread half of the filling in the baking dish. Place 2 pieces of the phyllo pastry on top of the filling in the dish. Brush the pastry lightly with melted butter. Top with one more piece of phyllo. Tuck any overhanging edges under to form a smooth edge that neatly covers the filling. Spread the remaining filling over the phyllo. Top with 2 more pieces of phyllo and brush them lightly with butter. Top with the remaining phyllo sheet and brush it with butter. Use a sharp knife to mark 12 squares by cutting through the top layers of pastry.
Bake until the topping is golden and the filling is bubbling gently, about 45 minutes. Use a sharp knife to cut through the marked squares and a spatula with a wide blade to remove and serve the squares.
A Step Ahead: The potpie can be assembled early in the day and baked later. Refrigerate it, remembering to cover the pie tightly with plastic warp, so the phyllo crust does not dry out. A cold potpie will need to bake an additional 5 minutes.
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