Spanakopita – and my interview with Joanne Anton, Director of Giving for Herb Kohl Philanthropies. In our continuing series, “Cooking with Milwaukee Community Leaders” Joanne and I are making Spanakopita, the classic Greek savory pie. Joanne is listed in the 2023 Milwaukee Business Journal’s top 100 Powerbrokers in Milwaukee.
What is Spanakopita?
Spanakopita is a traditional Greek savory vegetarian pie made primarily with spinach, feta cheese, and pastry dough. It can often be found in a pie form, but these triangles are a delicious hand-held appetizer. It is a common Greek appetizer or side dish. Some recipes are made into one large pie and cut into squares while others are made into individual servings where they are rolled or folded into triangles.
This is a bit of a labor of love, compared with buying frozen from the store. They are so much fresher and bursting with flavor! It’s worth the effort, to make them from scratch!
Tips for Making Spanakopita
- Always keep any phyllo pastry covered with a damp cloth or paper towel. Don’t get the cloth or paper towel too wet, just barely damp otherwise it will stick to the pastry.
- Don’t overfill the phyllo dough.
- Sprinkle some salt before baking for some texture and added flavor!
- A non-traditional ingredient in this recipe is the Ricotta Cheese! Adding ricotta cheese adds a much-needed creaminess that some spinach pies lack.
- Use frozen store-bought phyllo sheets. No need to make your phyllo dough from scratch because store-bought phyllo is really good
Why is my spanakopita soggy?
The main reason for soggy spanakopita is spinach or ricotta cheese. Spinach must be well wilted. Look for little to no remaining moisture in the skillet. If you do this ahead of time, put it in the fridge, and leave it uncovered so it dries out even more.
Cooking With Milwaukee Community Leaders
I do a short interview with my guest, talk about their work in the community, and then cook something at our condo building. They pick whatever we are going to cook and I act as their sous chef.
You can view the previous Cooking/Interview at the links listed below.
Wendy Baumann (President of WWBIC) Interview – Tuna Bien Masabe Jose Andres Recipe –https://youtu.be/wGn3YclrPds. The recipe article is at https://cookingsecretsformen.com/2022/11/20/tunabienmasabe
Sadhna Lindvall (President of the Shorewood Foundation) Interview – Pastelillos (Dominican empanadas) https://youtu.be/PNxm3O8l4pE. The recipe article is at https://cookingsecretsformen.com/2022/11/28/dominican-empanadas-pastelillos/
Wendell Willis (Former MPS Foundation Exec Director) Interview – Steak Fajitas – Easy Margarita Recipe – https://youtu.be/0G12gTts1Go. The recipe article is https://cookingsecretsformen.com/2022/12/06/steak-fajitas-wendell-willis-interview/
Ricardo Diaz (Former Exec Director of UCC) Interview – Cuban Tostones and Plantains Recipe – https://youtu.be/49u0OR7fa8sThe Recipe article is https://cookingsecretsformen.com/2022/12/21/sweet-plantains-vs-tostones-ricardo-diaz-interview/
Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson – Copycat McDonald’s Breakfast Sandwiches – YouTube Video is at https://youtu.be/eWkN4nI5ueE The Recipe article is https://cookingsecretsformen.com/2023/01/16/copycat-mcdonalds-breakfast-sandwiches
- No special equipment needed
- 2 cups fresh spinach trimmed and chopped
- 2 cups each of fresh alternate greens chopped – JoAnne prefers turnip greens and swiss chard.
- 1 medium onion chopped
- Extra virgin olive oil — use this both to cook the spinach/greens/onion mixture and brush the dough.
- 2-3 eggs
- 1 lb imported Greek Feta cheese crumbled
- 1-2 cups of alternate cheese Note: JoAnne prefers a mixture of Ricotta, Cottage Cheese, and Feta
- 1 bunch of fresh dill chopped
- Salt and Pepper
- 1 package 16 oz Phyllo Dough (properly thawed and stored) Note: #4 thickness is recommended
- Preheat the Oven to 350 degrees
- Wash and chop greens, remove excess water/pat dry
- Heat olive oil, and add chopped onion. and cook over medium heat.
- Once the onion is soft, add spinach and greens in bunches. Cook until soft.
- Remove excess liquid and allow to cool.
- Take cooled greens mixture and add to dairy mixture. Combine well.
- Add fresh dill, salt, and pepper to taste.
- To assemble the spanakopita, you need a basting brush and a small bowl of olive oil.
- Remove sheets of phyllo dough two at a time, keeping them doubled up/together
- Drizzle and brush olive oil all over the dough sheets.
- You want your spanakopita to be two sheets thick to ensure it can hold the mixture inside.
- Cut the dough into 3 long strips.
- Place a spoonful of dough at bottom of each strip, then fold tightly in alternating triangle flips.
- Continue to baste with olive oil to keep the dough moist and to ensure the seams on the triangles are closed.
- You must move quickly to keep the dough from drying out.
- Place the wrapped triangle on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper
- Repeat until mixture and dough are gone
- Bake for approximately 20 minutes
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If you like this recipe for Spanakopita you should try our recipe for the Best Guacamole
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4 thoughts on “Spanakopita and Joanne Anton Interview”
Great interview and wonderful Spanakopita from Joanne
Lovely recipe for Spanakopita, Charlie. So much better when you make your own rather than store bought!