Part of my March 2022 Times Union story, about Elliot choosing a college.
We have a deep and lasting love for spanakopita in our house, especially Elliot. If you aren’t familiar, it’s a Mediterranean dish packed with spinach, cheese and herbs. Creating the filling isn’t hard: Sautéed onions and garlic are stirred up with feta cheese, dill and lemon zest. That bright green mixture is folded into layers of phyllo dough and brushed, over and over, with melted butter. The result is sublime and one of the early foods, along with pesto, that convinced my children to put green food into their mouths. I don’t know why, but little kids are distrustful of food that’s green. Anyway, back to the spanakopita: Those buttery layers make it kind of a pain to put together. So I took all of that glorious onion and garlic and spinach and prepared it, as if it was going into the buttery dough, but instead loaded it onto a stretched pizza shell. I added shredded mozzarella, folded the dough over to make a kind of pizza-sandwich-type-thing and poof, our favorite Greek pastry became our favorite Greek pizza. This is good for weeknights, lunches, brunches and party food alike. And Elliot approves. “Awesome,” he called it. It’s easy enough to make and don’t you think it would make good eating at midnight when everyone is cramming for an exam?
Greek Spinach Pizza
1 pound fresh pizza dough (store-bought works well)
Spinach topping (recipe follows)
1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella (or more, depending on your taste)
For the topping:
1 1-pound bag frozen leaf spinach, thawed
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup chopped fresh dill
Zest of 1/2 lemon
1 cup crumbled feta
1 tablespoon sesame seeds (optional)
- Use a few tablespoons of olive oil and gently stretch the pizza dough to fit either a 12-inch round pan, or a 9×12 baking sheet. Coat the pan generously with olive oil and place the dough on the pan. Set aside.
- Prepare the filling: use a clean kitchen towel to squeeze out all the moisture from the spinach. Do this over the sink or a big bowl (there will be a lot of liquid.) Set aside.
- Set a large skillet over medium heat and add a few tablespoons olive oil. Cook the onion until translucent, then add the garlic and cook for another minute. Season with salt. Add the oregano, crushed red pepper, a few turns of black pepper and the spinach. Cook, stirring, until the spinach is warmed throughout and any excess liquid has cooked off. Turn off the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. Stir in the dill, lemon zest and feta. Taste and add more salt if desired.
- Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Spread the spinach mixture evenly over half of the dough, leaving a 1-inch crust around the edge. Top the spinach with the cheese and fold the pizza dough over. Use a sharp knife to score the top of the dough a few times, then brush with a bit of olive oil. Top with the sesame seeds. Bake on the lowest rack in your oven, for about 12 minutes. Check at about 6 minutes and rotate the pan.
- Allow to cool for a few minutes, cut into wedges, and serve.