I love the gooey, cheesy filling of this pie almost as much as the crunch from the Filo crust. It comes together fairly quickly, and uses only one (ovenproof) pan, making it a perfect weeknight meal.
This is inspired by a Jamie Oliver recipe where he whips up a four-course meal in under half an hour. That’s probably a bit beyond my abilities, but I did manage to get the pie and a simple salad on the table in well under an hour, and in my house we call that winning!
I tweaked the recipe slightly, halving most of the ingredients. I also switched the steps around, adding the eggs at the very end. I stopped at 2 eggs (although technically the recipe calls for 2.5) since the mixture seemed quite moist by then. I imagine you can easily swap the feta for ricotta, but you may want to add a pinch or two of salt if you do.
Get your hands on Filo pastry if you can (I usually find it at the larger branches of the grocery chains). It cooks quickly and is versatile. I’ve used it to make baked samosas, pies etc, and they all turn out well. The trick is to work quickly, covering the unused pastry with a moist towel until you need it. Also, add some fat (either butter or olive oil) between layers. That causes individual layers to crisp up – resulting in a delightful pastry. In a pinch you can substitute puff pastry, cooked according to the instructions in the package. If you’re using puff pastry make sure you dock it (make light holes in the pastry using a fork, to enable steam to escape) so it cooks evenly, and, again, work quickly to make sure the dough doesn’t get warm before it hits the oven.
Spinach & Feta Filo Pie
200g Feta cheese
25g Cheddar, grated
100g pine nuts
1 nutmeg, whole
Hot chilli powder (optional)
1 tbsp butter
1 package Filo pastry
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Put an ovenproof pan on medium-high heat and put the pine nuts into the pan to toast. Meanwhile, in a bowl crumble the feta. Don’t make all the pieces uniform; it’s nice to bite into an occasional piece of melted, salty feta in the finished pie. Keep an eye on the pine nuts, and once they’re golden in colour, add them to the bowl with the feta.
Add the cheddar and grate in some nutmeg and the zest of one lemon. Put the pan back on the heat and add the butter. Once it’s hot, add the spinach and cook quickly, until it is wilted. Add the cooked spinach to the bowl. Stir the mixture and add in two eggs. Stir lightly, being careful not to break up all the cheese.
Take a sheet of grease proof paper, crumple it and run it under the tap. This makes it a lot more pliable. Grease with some olive oil. Lay 2 sheets of Filo on the paper, slightly overlapping to form a rectangle. This is the first layer. Drizzle some olive oil on top, and use your hands to lightly spread the oil around. Sprinkle with the chilli powder, if using. Repeat until you have 3 full layers (using six sheets of pastry).
Carefully lift this (along with the grease proof paper) and place into the ovenproof pan or baking dish. Pour the spinach, feta and egg mixture into the pastry, and sprinkle some cheddar on top.
Fold the layers of Filo on top to close the pie. The more crinkly the pastry is now, the crunchier it will be once baked. Trim the grease proof paper and bake in the oven until golden, about 15 minutes.
The crunch of the Filo, the salty creaminess of the melted feta and the unexpected delight of the chilli powder in the pastry make this a perfect supper dish. I served it with a simple salad of tomato and watercress, dressed with a little salt, lemon juice and a drizzle of toasted sesame oil.