Travelling always has an influence on what I’m cooking. It’s inevitable really – you go on holiday, have fabulous meals in fabulous sunny places and want to recreate some of those good memories back home. After visiting Tresco, I craved fresh crab – a tricky thing to source in London. When my Mum came home from two weeks in Italy we were treated to lemony pasta dishes and affogato. My biggest influence this summer was going to the Greek island of Symi and eating daily spanakopita (spinach and feta filo pie) on the beach for lunch. Picked up from the harbour bakery before hopping on the boat in the morning, my sister and I carefully guarded it until lunchtime – even fending off goats sniffing around our sun loungers on one beach! It made the perfect lunch in the sunshine once you were ravenous from a morning of swimming. Once home, I knew this was a dish I wanted to continue having.
Spanakopita is a very simple filo pie stuffed with spinach, feta and a sprinkling of nutmeg. The ones I ate in Symi were individually coiled into swirls like a pain au chocolat, giving a delicious contrast between crispy outsides and buttery soft centres. I kept it simple when recreating this at home and made one big pie. Of course, eating it in London in October doesn’t have quite the same charm as on a beach in August. However, even though my tan has faded and my summer clothes are folded away, this can transport me temporarily back to Symi beaches.
Spinach and feta filo pie
- 150g butter
- 1 onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 200g spinach leaves
- ½ tsp grated nutmeg
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 100g feta
- pack of filo pastry
Preheat the oven to 180’C.
Melt 50g of the butter in a medium saucepan. Finely dice the onion and add to the pan. Cook over a medium pan for 10 minutes until golden and completely soft. Crush the garlic into the pan and cook for 1-2 minutes more.
Add the spinach, stir into the onion and cover with a lid. Cook for five minutes until the spinach is wilted down. Remove from the heat and let cool for a few minutes. Grate in the nutmeg and crumble in the feta. Add the beaten eggs and stir so everything is fully combined.
Melt the remaining 100g butter in a small saucepan. Take a sheet of the filo and brush liberally with butter. Lay butter side down into a 20cm loose-bottomed cake tin and up the sides. Repeat with 3-4 sheets of filo, buttering each one, until the tin is fully covered and there is an even layer. Scrape in the spinach filling. Butter more filo sheets and lay over the top, encasing the filling. Brush the top with butter.
Bake in the oven for 30minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden.