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Lighter spanakopita

This traditional Greek spinach and feta cheese pie gets a healthier makeover - we've slashed the fat, salt and calories

  • Prep: 1 hrs
    Cook: 35 mins
  • Serves 6
  • Easy
  • Serves 6
  • Easy
  • Calories 274
  • Carbohydrates 22
  • Saturated Fat 5
  • Sugar 4
  • Protein 12
  • Fat 15
  • Fibre 4
  • Salt 1.4

Nutrition per serving

  • Calories 274
  • Carbohydrates 22
  • Saturated Fat 5
  • Sugar 4
  • Protein 12
  • Fat 15
  • Fibre 4
  • Salt 1.4

Ingredients

  • 500g fresh spinach
  • 3 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 6 spring onions, ends trimmed, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • generous pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 200g ricotta
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsp chopped dill, plus 1 rounded tsp
  • 2 tbsp snipped chives
  • 2 tsp chopped mint
  • 5 sheets filo pastry (each about 46 x 25cm and about 250g total weight)
  • 100g feta
  • minted yogurt dip (see tip), to serve (optional)
  • tomato, cucumber & pepper salad (see tip), to serve (optional)

Tip

Serving suggestions
To make a simple minted yogurt dip, mix 8 tbsp of 2% Greek yogurt with 1 tbsp chopped mint and season with black pepper. For added crunch, and another helping of veg, mix up a salad of sliced tomatoes (try red and yellow ones), thin slices of red onion plus red pepper, chunks of cucumber and a sprinkling of snipped chives. 

How I made it healthier
I used a non-stick frying pan, so I needed very little oil. To reduce saturated fat, I used rapeseed oil for frying and for brushing the pastry. Fat, saturated fat and salt were lowered by replacing some of the feta with ricotta. Using less filo pastry required less oil, so fat and saturated fat were further reduced. 

Top tips
If you take the pack of filo out of the fridge 5-10 minutes ahead, the individual sheets of pastry are easier to unroll without tearing them. Sizes of filo sheets can vary according to brand, so if yours are slightly different to the recipe, just adapt by trimming them to fit. 

What if I...
Used 300g feta instead of ricotta and feta? The calories would increase to 309 kcals per serving. Total fat would rise to 17.6g and saturated fat to 7.5g, while  salt would rise to 2.5g per serving. 

Method

  1. Pack the spinach into a large heatproof bowl. Pour boiling water over and press the spinach down with a wooden spoon. Leave for 1 min to wilt, stirring a couple of times so all the leaves are submerged. Tip into a large colander and place under running cold water to cool quickly. Drain well – squeeze out any excess water by pressing the spinach down with the wooden spoon, then squeezing with your hands. Using kitchen paper, pat the spinach dry into a compact shape, lay it on a board and roughly chop, then set aside.

  2. Heat 2 tsp of the oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Add the shallot, spring onions and garlic, and fry over a high-ish heat for 3-4 mins, stirring often, until softened and just starting to brown. Lower the heat, tip in the spinach and stir for 1 min only to finish drying. Season with pepper and a good pinch of nutmeg, and leave to cool.

  3. Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5 and put a baking sheet in to heat up. In a bowl, stir the ricotta into the beaten egg and mix in the 2 tbsp dill, the chives and mint. Season with pepper and a pinch of salt.

  4. Lightly oil a 20cm square x 4cm deep cake tin. Mix the remaining oil with the 1 rounded tsp dill. Lay the filo pastry sheets on a large board. Brush the top one with a little of the dill oil, then carefully lower it into the tin to line the base and 2 of the sides, with an overhang on both sides. The pastry doesn’t have to fit in smoothly – a few wrinkles and folds in it are fine. Brush a bit more oil over the second pastry sheet and this time lay it down in the tin the other way round, so it drapes over and lines the base and the other 2 sides. The tin should now be completely covered, with a pastry overhang all round. Repeat the criss-cross layering with 2 more oiled filo sheets.

  5. Stir the ricotta mixture into the spinach, then crumble in the feta. Lightly stir it in so you leave a few chunky pieces. Spoon this filling into the lined tin and level it. Bring the pastry sides up and over the filling, then brush a little oil over them. Brush the remainder of the oil over the last filo sheet on the board. Cut the sheet in half widthways and lay one half over at a time, in big folds, to cover the filling and give you a pastry topping.

  6. Place the tin on the heated baking sheet and bake for 25-30 mins until the pastry is crisp and golden. Leave to cool for 10-15 mins. Remove the tin and transfer to a serving plate. If your tin doesn’t have a loose bottom, carefully upturn it onto a flat board, then flip it over onto the serving plate. Serve warm or cold with minted yogurt dip and a tomato, cucumber & pepper salad (see below), if you like.