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Peter & Julie Bellas’ Spanakopita (Spinach Pie)
Peter & Julie Bellas’ Filo Pastry Recipe makes 6 sheets for 30cm x 20cm pie tin, enough for one pie.
340g or 2⅓ cups 170ml or ⅔ cup ½ tablespoon 1 teaspoon
plain flour warm water olive oil salt
COMBINE all ingredients in a bowl, mixing roughly by hand until mixture just comes together. Tip on to kitchen bench and knead for about 10 minutes: the dough should be smooth and very elastic. Try not to flour the bench while doing this. If you must, use a small dusting. When smooth, place dough disc in cling wrap and rest for one hour. When it’s ready, divide the pastry into six pieces and cover with a damp tea towel, rolling one piece at a time. To roll, dust work surface lightly with flour and use a rolling pin or a thick piece of dowel*, turning the dough as you roll. The pastry should become so fine it’s almost transparent, like holding silk. Stretch it gently and use immediately, brushing with oil. Repeat process until all dough is transformed into sheets.
180g ½ ⅓ cup ¼ cup 4 stalks ⅓ cup 100g 50g 1 teaspoon 6
*Annabelle’s Tips: My heart stopped when I saw I’d be making the filo from scratch but it was surprisingly simple using Julie’s tips. The hardest part is rolling the dough because it’s so elastic, so the secret is being patient. I used a rolling pin but traditionally the pastry is rolled using a thick piece of dowel (from the hardware store) and lifted to extend the stretch. Don’t skip the note to fold the overhanging filo pastry back on top of the silverbeet mixture. I somehow overlooked that and it made a strange crispy crust (as you can see in the photo). The filling recipe is straightforward but it’s important you dry the silverbeet thoroughly (I used tea towels) after washing it. Any moisture will make the pastry soggy. And on that note, while spanakopita’s translation is spinach pie, Julie tells me silverbeet is used over spinach because it gives off less moisture.
silverbeet onion fresh parsley fresh dill spring onion olive oil, plus extra for brushing sheets Pecorino Romano ‘Dodoni’ feta, any brined Greek feta will do pepper sheets filo pastry (see recipe)
LIGHTLY grease 30cm x 20cm tin with olive oil and preheat fan-forced oven to 210°C. Cut out stems of silverbeet then wash leaves and dry thoroughly*. Shred leaves and tip into large bowl. Dice onion, parsley, dill, white and pale green parts of spring onion, and add to silverbeet. Stir oil through mixture, then grate in both cheeses, sprinkle with pepper and combine well with hands. Take one sheet of filo pastry, brush with olive oil and lay another on top, repeating the process until four sheets are stacked on top of one another. Place layered pastry in pie tin, gently pushing into the corners of the tray. Tip silverbeet mixture on to pastry and even it out using your fingertips. Fold the edges of pastry on to the filling, then brush edges of pastry with olive oil and lay another filo sheet on top to seal. Add the last sheet of filo and brush liberally with olive oil. Using the tip of a small knife, divide the pie into quarters taking care not to cut all the way through. With scissors cut two steam holes into each section. Bake in oven for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Slide out of tin on to cooling rack and leave for 15 minutes before cutting into sections.
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