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My Lazy Spanakopita

Lazy spanakopita slice

Here's what I do when I see phyllo dough at the grocery store: I buy it. Then I go home and put it in the freezer and sigh contentedly. I'm weird like that.

It's kind of like having an ace card in your back pocket, though. If you've got frozen phyllo dough then you just need to remember to pick up two boxes of frozen spinach and a block of feta the next time you're out. The spinach can go languish in the freezer alongside the phyllo dough for a while and the feta is usually, if the package isn't opened, good for quite some time in the fridge, too.

Then one day! In the relatively distant future! (I'm talking weeks or months here, though, not years.) You will wake up and decide that you want spanakopita, or spinach pie, for lunch and you don't have to go out and buy a single thing to do so. Instant gratification is so, so good. So is having a stocked pantry. I take a perverse amount of pleasure in having a stocked pantry, in fact. You'd think I survived some sort of horrifying state of want in my formative years by the amount of glee I take in having everything on hand for any number of meals I might want to make. I'm not sure what that says about me.

Lazy spanakopita

But enough about that. What I like about my lazy spanakopita, besides the fact that it tastes very good, is that it's very healthy and will feed me for several days, or will feed me and my husband for a couple. I also like that it's quick and easy to make. Why, just the other day I managed to entertain and feed my child while also making this pie and both the child and the pie survived! If that is not ease, I don't know what is. And furthermore? Leftover slices can be eaten out of hand. You don't need a fork or a plate, which is, for those of you wrangling small children or feral animals, sort of brilliant. (Leftover spanakopita doesn't have any of the crispness of a freshly made spanakopita, but this also means less mess when you eat it the next day. Silver linings, folks. They're everywhere.)

I will not vouch for my spanakopita's authenticity. In fact, if you are Greek, please forgive me if I have committed some unspeakable act against your national dish. I love your country, I love your food, I love your beer. We honeymooned on some of your lovely islands! I was just very hungry. That's an acceptable defense, isn't it?

My Lazy Spanakopita
Makes one 9-inch pie

1 kilo (approximately 2 pounds) frozen spinach, defrosted
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, minced
200 grams  (7 ounces) Greek feta
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste (I use about 3/4 teaspoon of salt)
8 sheets phyllo dough (I like this brand or whatever yufka I can find at the Turkish grocer)
4 to 5 tablespoons neutral-tasting vegetable oil

1. Heat the oven to 180 C (350 F). Put the defrosted spinach in a colander and squeeze out as much water as you can, wringing the spinach out in handfuls like rags. Finely chop the wrung-out spinach. Put in a large bowl and set aside.

2. Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the minced onion. Sauté for around 8 minutes, until the onion is fragrant and golden. Scrape the onion into the bowl of spinach.

3. Crumble the feta into the bowl of spinach. Add the three eggs, the oregano and salt and pepper to taste. Then mix until all the ingredients are well-combined and the mass is relatively uniform. (You will have little pockets of feta cheese here and there.)

4. Lightly oil a 9-inch springform pan. Open the package of phyllo dough and lay a damp towel over the phyllo sheets. Working quickly, line the pan with one sheet of phyllo dough, then brush it lightly with some vegetable oil. Layer another sheet on top and oil that. Repeat with all the sheets of phyllo until the springform pan is fully lined. Scrape the spinach mixture into the phyllo-lined pan and smooth the top. Fold the phyllo dough over the top of the pie (see photo above). Brush a little oil on the tops of the phyllo dough sheets.

5. Put the pan in the oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, rotating halfway through. The filling will be set and the phyllo golden-brown and crackling when the pie is done. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before removing the ring of the pan. Cut into slices and serve immediately. If cooled completely and then wrapped carefully in plastic wrap and aluminum foil, the spanakopita can be frozen for a few months.