Spanakopita - entree style

My goodness was tonight's meal labor intensive. It literally took me about 3 1/2 hours to make it. BUT it was worth it b/c it was num num. This is another one of those recipes I've wanted to make for a while but never got around to it. Last night I threw the phyllo dough in the fridge so there was no turning back at that point. In my mind tonight's dinner seemed like it would come together quickly, but apparently not. If you're going to try to make this, it is not your typical weeknight meal and should be saved for a weekend.

To serve along side of the spanakopita I made baked falafels and a cucumber-dill yogurt sauce. The yogurt sauce was a refreshing compliment to the baked falafels which were very flavorful and crunchy. Falafels are usually deep fried but mine were baked in the oven. Since I pre-heated the baking sheet they were extra crunchy on both sides and you didn't miss the fact that they weren't deep fried. This was a delicious well rounded meal that took me back to our honeymoon in Greece :)

**I changed the recipe a bit since I didn't make individual servings and turned it into a pie instead.

Spanakopita - 4 servings
Adapted from here and here

2 tbs olive oil
2 pounds spinach, washed and drained or 2-10 oz frozen boxed spinach
1 bunch scallions, white and green parts, chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1/8 cup finely chopped dill
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound feta cheese, crumbled
1 to 2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1 pound filo pastry sheets

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large saute pan, add half of the spinach and saute until spinach wilts, tossing with tongs, about 2 minutes. Remove spinach and squeeze out excess liquid, then chop roughly. Repeat with remaining spinach, using 1 more tablespoon of olive oil. Pour off any liquid from the pan, and add remaining olive oil. (Or defrost frozen spinach in the microwave and squeeze out excess liquid) Add scallions and saute until soft, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the spinach to the scallions, along with the parsley, salt and pepper. Cook over low heat for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove from heat to cool. (This part can be done ahead and kept refrigerated).

Stir the feta and as much beaten egg to moisten the cooled spinach mixture.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Unroll the filo dough on a flat surface and keep it covered with waxed paper and a damp towel so it doesn't dry out and become brittle. In a 9X9 baking dish, spray bottom with a light coating of PAM (you can use the melted butter instead of PAM). Fit in your first layer of phyllo dough. If it rips a bit, that’s fine! The additional layers will cover your problems. After your first layer of dough, spray with PAM lay down your second piece perpendicular to the first – just to make sure the layers are even on the sides. Then continue to build four more layers the same way making sure to spray the bottom and sides with PAM so the dough sticks together. Then fill the shell with your spinach filling. Then add 6 more layers of phyllo dough like the bottom layers. Cut off any excess dough that is hanging over the edges of the dish. Then with a sharp knife cut through the layers (from corner to corner) and make a big X in the dish so it's easier to remove the pieces once it's cooked. Bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes until top is golden and dough puffs up. Let stand for 10 minutes after baking.