WGN’s Dean Richards shares his recipe for spanakopita!


  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (a stick and a half)
  • 2 medium leeks (about 1½ pounds), white and pale-green parts only, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise (about 3 cups)
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1½ pounds fresh baby spinach
  • ¾ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • ½ cup chopped fresh dill
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest, plus 2 teaspoons juice (from 1 large lemon)
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 6 ounces feta cheese in brine, drained and crumbled (about 1½ cups feta.  I prefer Dodoni brand)
  • 8 sheets phyllo dough.   #4 thickness but any thickness will work, thawed, laid flat on a sheet pan and loosely covered with a towel


Step 1:

  1. In a large (preferably 10-inch) cast-iron skillet, melt 3 tablespoons butter over medium heat. 
  2. Add the leeks and garlic, season generously with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. 
  3. Add one large handful of spinach at a time, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper and stir until wilted, until you’ve added and seasoned all of the spinach and the mixture is thoroughly combined, about 12 minutes. 
  4. Remove the skillet from the heat and let it cool completely.

Step 2:

Arrange an oven rack in the middle position  (or a grill with a defector pizza stone) and pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. 

  1. In a large bowl, combine the parsley, dill, Parmesan, lemon zest and juice and nutmeg. Stir to combine. 
  2. Working with about 1 cup at a time, transfer the spinach mixture to a fine-mesh strainer or sieve set in the sink and press the mixture to remove as much liquid as possible, then add to the parsley mixture. 
  3. Stir to combine, and season to taste with salt and pepper. (Feta is salty, so season very lightly with salt here.) 
  4. Stir in the eggs, then gently fold in the feta, doing your best to leave the larger chunks intact.

Prepare the phyllo crust: 

  1. Wipe the skillet clean with a paper towel. In a small saucepan over low heat or in a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave, melt the remaining butter; set aside. 
  2. Brush the bottom and sides of the skillet with melted butter. 
  3. Working quickly,  lay in one phyllo sheet at a time, slightly rotating them.  Lightly brush the top of each sheet with butter, then lay it in the skillet, buttered-side up, with an overhang on all sides. 
  4. Gently press it in to eliminate any large air bubbles between the phyllo and the pan. Repeat with the remaining phyllo sheets. 

Step 3:

  1. Spoon the spinach-feta mixture into the skillet, spreading in an even layer. Working with one tip of overhanging phyllo dough at a time, starting with the top layer first, lift it over the spinach-feta mixture and toward the center of the pan, loosely crinkling it as you go.
  2. Repeat with all of the phyllo sheets, then lightly brush the exposed surface of the phyllo with butter. (You should have a circle of uncovered spinach-feta mixture in the center, surrounded by a ring of crinkled phyllo dough.)     

Cook over medium heat on the stovetop for about 5 minutes to crisp the bottom crust.

Transfer to middle rack of the oven, and bake until phyllo is golden and the filling is warmed;   350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove from oven.  Let it cool and firm up for 10 minutes  

Slice into 6 to 8 wedges to serve. The spanakopita can be served warm or at room temperature.