It’s no secret that I’m silly for spanakopita! This popular Greek dish is as easy to make as it is to eat and I often spend an afternoon preparing it in bulk to freeze. Able to easily adapt from vegetarian to vegan, the filling of spinach spiked with fresh dill, oregano, lemon and nutmeg and encased in layers of delicate phyllo pastry is most folks’ introduction to Mediterranean cuisine. Made ahead, these crunchy little pies go from freezer to plate in 15 minutes and are delicious with a dollop of tzatziki, a green salad or simply on their own.

Since I’m an omnivorous sort, I like the addition of feta, ricotta and thick Greek yoghurt – with the latter giving the spinach an oozy creaminess that works in harmony with the shard-like crunch of the phyllo. And when it comes to greens, one can go so much further than spinach. For me, spanakopita is best made when my veggie garden has yielded up a crop of Swiss chard, carrot tops, wild garlic, sorrel and zucchini – which I finely grate, drain and add to the filling.
I’m a fan of making things in batches and the beauty of spanakopita is that is freezes so well. A detail that means I can indulge in my favourite Greek treat whenever the mood arises.

For this recipe I’ve decided to use kale instead of spinach and deliciously creamy Kiri cheese in place of the yoghurt. I find that kale adds a meatiness to the spanakopita – a sort of heartier version of spinach – while Kiri cream cheese’s smoothly indulgent texture makes a luxurious version of creamed spinach. I used Kiri’s cream cheese in the tubs for this recipe, but their snacking squares work perfectly too. Here I’ve folded my spanakopita into triangular pies and served them with a simple tzatziki also made with Kiri cream cheese.

Spanakopita with kale and Kiri cheese

Prep time: 20 mins / Cook time: 40 mins / Serves: 6-10

  • 500g readymade phyllo pastry, thawed
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 800g kale, rinsed woody stalks removed
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 400g Kiri cream cheese
  • 5-6 sprigs of fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 5ml ground nutmeg
  • 250ml 0live oil plus extra for frying
  • Coarse ground sea salt and black pepper
  • Toasted sesame seeds, to garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 220°C. In a large pot over medium heat, fry the onion in a little olive oil until lightly browned. Stir through the nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat, add the kale and leave to wilt. Removing the pot from the heat, stir through the Kiri cream cheese and add the crushed garlic and dill. If required, season the kale mixture again and leave to cool to room temperature.

Using a wet tea towel to keep the excess pastry damp while you work, layer three sheets of phyllo down on a flat surface, brushing olive oil between each one. Use a sharp knife to slice the phyllo sheets lengthwise into three sections. Working with one section at a time, dollop a heaped tablespoon of the kale mixture at the top of the pastry and fold it over into a triangular shape, making sure the edges of the phyllo are aligned. Repeat this movement until you have a triangular pocket. Arrange the folded spanakopita across a lined baking sheet and brush with more olive oil. Sprinkle a few sesame seeds over the top of the pies and bake for 20 to 40 minutes or until golden brown. Leave the pies to cool slightly before serving.

For the tzatziki you will need:

  • 400g Kiri cream cheese
  • 1-2 Mediterranean cucumbers (the small ones), seeds removed and roughly chopped
  • A clove of garlic, crushed
  • 15ml olive oil
  • 3 sprigs of fresh oregano, finely chopped
  • The zest and juice of half a lemon
  • Coarse ground sea salt and black pepper

Combine all the ingredients together and serve alongside the spanakopita triangles.

SPANAKOPITA WITH KALE AND KIRI CHEESE

SPANAKOPITA WITH KALE AND KIRI CHEESE

SPANAKOPITA WITH KALE AND KIRI CHEESE

SPANAKOPITA WITH KALE AND KIRI CHEESE

SPANAKOPITA WITH KALE AND KIRI CHEESE

SPANAKOPITA WITH KALE AND KIRI CHEESE

SPANAKOPITA WITH KALE AND KIRI CHEESE

SPANAKOPITA WITH KALE AND KIRI CHEESE

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