Genuine, Greek spanakopita is a classic, spinach pie, surrounded with filo pastry. Filled with spinach or silver beet, cheeses and mildly spiced, Greek spanakopita is a great way to increase your or your children’s green veggie intake.
I can promise you, they will be coming back for second helpings! Let’s be honest, who doesn’t like pie made from filo pastry?
And the filo pastry? It’s very forgiving and despite ripping a few sheets here and there, it really doesn’t matter. The dish when cooked, will come out of the oven all golden brown.
We also take a look at the Greek diet. It’s not all grilled fish and roast lamb. There are healthy quantities of vegetables, pulses, yogurts and other healthy foods that make up the Eastern Mediterranean diet.
We’ve all heard the story of the Mediterranean diet although we noticed distinct differences between the diet of people living in Athens versus those on the Greek Islands.
The Greek Diet and Attitude
Many people claim the Greek diet is the healthiest in the world. I’m not qualified to answer that question but here are a few observations from our trip to the Greek Islands.
There is a strong emphasis on wholefoods, fruit, vegetables, fish, beans and legumes. There is very little processed food consumed on the islands and most families maintain healthy-looking vegetable gardens that are clearly well-maintained and heavily used. Dairy and yogurt are common but used sparingly, or maybe not over-used is a better way of putting it. Greek salads are common, as is the use of healthy, Greek olive oil. We were thrilled to find out many, rural-based families still maintain the old, family traditions of making their own olive oil from their own olives.
Living on the Greek Islands, it is clear to see there is easy access to good fish. But what about meat? You don’t see too much beef. Lamb is clearly more popular and traditional. But it is not over-consumed. Fish is more common. The use of fava beans and chickpeas (garbanzo beans) is very common, more so than meat.
The end result is Greek Islanders are rather fit looking. But what about Athens and the mainland?
Our observation was there was more processed food consumed on the mainland. There are the usual, Western outlets everywhere. I don’t recall seeing any fast food outlets on the islands we visited. And according to statistics, obesity rates for young boys in Greece are the highest in Europe! Well I bet you those high obesity rates are not based on boys living on the Greek Islands.
Which makes me think it’s not just diet. The availability of beaches and great weather on the islands surely encourages children to go outside and play, take part in sports or just have a swim. The glorious weather is surely a big part of this.
If ever there was evidence processed food is not good for you, the Greek Islands might just be the required proof.
Genuine Greek Spanakopita
And so to Greek Spanakopita. Yes, it does contain some pastry and butter, but have a look at the quantity of spinach in the making of it. It’s impressive and it’s good for you.
Spanakopita is not difficult to make but you will need about an hour on the preparation of the dish. I’m a novice preparing filo pastry, so those more proficient using it will take less time than I have indicated. I used full grown (English) spinach rather than baby spinach as I think it has more flavor. But feel free to substitute with baby spinach or silver beet and you might save a further 20 minutes of preparation time.
This is an easy recipe to make for a crowd or party as you can make it ahead of time and then bake it, or even bake it and just serve warm.
Greek spanakopita is perfect served with a beautiful, Greek village salad.
I think this is a really decadent dish made from simple ingredients. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!