This chicken spanakopita (Greek spinach pie) is the best comfort food I can imagine for spring. Hearty and rich, flavored with cheeses, leeks and chicken, but also loaded with fresh spinach. And to top it all, it make s a perfect early picnic dish, since it is pull-apart. I don’t think anything could make me more excited right now.
You all know by now, how excited I get when I see spring starting to blossom. If I’d have to choose I’d say winter is my favorite season, but there’s something magical about early spring. The thing I love the most is to go out in the forest and pick fresh new wild foods. By now I’ve already picked the earlies small fragrant leaves of wild garlic and I’m waiting for more spring goodies to start growing.
I didn’t use wild garlic in the recipe, although it would fit in just perfectly.
Since we’re talking about wild food, I’d love to know your spring wild food favorites? 😀
I love anything wrapped in phyllo dough or even making my own phyllo dough. Okay, I cheated with this one, I bought it 😉 But whenever I have time I make my own. It makes a huge difference. If you have the chance to find freshly made phyllo dough in your local food market, buy it. Your dishes will go from great to awesome.
I mean it!
Spanakopita is originally made without meat and in layers of phyllo dough. I added chicken for some extra flavor and to make my hubby happy 😀 I figured why not make it easier to serve and make it more like individual böreks. Imagine if börek and pie would have a baby, it would look like that! Wrapped in mini rolls and served without cutting.
The ingredients are pretty basic but delicious each on it’s own. For sure, spinach is the hero of the dish. And you can get amazing fresh baby spinach in spring in any food market. I like combining it with leeks, since it makes the food so incredibly sweet and fragrant. The combo with feta, chicken and nutmeg is so good.
To hold it all together, I made a ricotta, egg and cream mixture and poured it over the rolls. This also makes the pie dense and creamy in the bottom, but the top stays crunchy. So make sure you dont pour the mixture all the way to the top.
It might no be a traditional spanakopita, but it is just as delicious and the main ingredients remain feta and spinach.
With some extra foodies 😉
These would be awesome at a picnic party or any party for that matter. They take a little time to assemble, but the cooking process is sooo simple. Since it is quite rich, you can actually feed up to about 8 people with it, if they are not huge hungry men 😉 or me!
This is by far my favorite spring pie and I’d serve it with spring strawberry layer cake in a glass following as dessert.
Picnic menu, done!
A glass of roasted peach and strawberry fizz to go along and you’re good to go 🙂
Pull-Apart Chicken Spanakopita
- 16 sheets phyllo dough
- 300 g chicken breast 1cm cubes (or use leftover chicken)
- 1 small leak cut into quarter lenghtwise and thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 500 g fresh spinach (or frozen and drained of excess water)
- 200 g feta cheese crumbled
- 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 eggs
- 60 g ricotta cheese
- 60 ml whipping cream
- a generous pinch of salt
Mix all ingredients for egg mixture together with a fork or a whisk, to get a smooth creamy texture.
In a preheated skillet roast chicken breast cubes with a tablespoon of olive oil for a minute or two until they get golden.
Add leaks, garlic and spinach and cook uncovered for about a minute or until the spinach cooks down. I you're using baby spinach this will take a minute, older spinach takes two to three minutes. If there is any excess water in the skillet drain it before filling the pie otherwise it will get soggy.
Remove from heat and add feta, nutmeg and black pepper. Mix well and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Line a 23 cm (9 inch) cake mold with baking paper.
Lightly coat one pyhloo sheet with olive oil, cover with another phyllo sheet and coat with olive oil again. Over the long edge of the dough spread one eight of the filling about 4 cm wide. Roll the dough to get a long roll. Now roll this into a snail shape and place it in the cake mold. Repeat until you've used all the sheets. I like to start placing the rolls on the sides first and add the last one in the middles, since the last one usually has less or more filling than the others. This makes the pie look more even.
Coat the tops with more olive oil and bake for 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven and pour the egg mixture over the baked rolls.
Return to the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes.
Remove form the oven and wait for 5 minutes before removing the rim. Be careful, it's still hot!
Serve warm or cold.