You all know Spanakopita right? Well, Kolokythopita me Spanaki has all the ingredients of Spanakopita, plus butternut squash! If you like Spanakopita, you will will love it!
When making a new recipe I always google it to see if someone else had thought of this before and although I saw curries or salads combining both ingredients, I was lucky no one had thought of adding them to a pie!
As the amount of butternut squash was more than the spinach, I named the pie after it’s main ingredient. If it was the opposite then I would have called it Spanakopita me Kolokythi (with Butternut Squash).
A couple of months ago I bought some butternut squash from the farmers’ market to make Kolokotes (Cypriot Squash Turnovers). I grated all the butternut squash and used about half of it. The remaining was stored in a plastic container with a lid and stored in the deep freezer.
During Christmas I also bought some thick, rustic phyllo to have it handy in case there were leftovers from the Turkey or the Lamb or Pork I made during the holidays, but I never used it as I prefer to make my own phyllo, unless I am very busy and do not have much time.
Each time I opened the deep freezer I would see the package of phyllo and the butternut squash and kept thinking that it would be great to make a sweet Kolokythopita (Pumpkin Pie). However, we had so many leftover desserts from Christmas that we had some to eat until mid January.
The other day I decided that it was about time to use the phyllo, before we go back to Assini, so I bought some spinach from the farmers’ market to make spanakopita. When I saw the butternut squash in the freezer, the idea of combining it with spinach appealed to me, I remembered an older recipe of mine in which these two ingredients were used. Still as it was a new recipe and totally different, I had to use my experience to balance that sweetness of the butternut squash so that it would not be on the sweet side.
When making spanakopita, I usually make it without sautéing the onion. However, as the butternut squash was still partly frozen, I sautéed the onion first, I then added the frozen butternut squash, which I broke into smaller pieces with a sharp knife. (Don’t do this if you have a non-stick frying pan but you can easily do it on your cutting board). When I managed to break the pieces, I covered the skillet with the lid and let the heat defrost it. A lot of water was released, so I simmered it for about twenty minutes for all the water to evaporate, then added the spinach and cooked it shortly. I let it cool and then added the remaining ingredients. It goes without saying that you can use freshly grated butternut squash but as it will not have the ice on it, it will need less time to cook.
I could have added either rice, bulgur wheat or trahanas to absorb the liquid but I preferred to make it this way.
The amount of olive oil used may seem a lot at first sight and may intimidate some of you but with my experience in making pies, I can tell you that we are not stingy using olive oil to make Greek pies and that’s why they are so delicious!
The phyllo I used is thick and has six sheets. There was a lot of flour dusted between each sheet so that they do not stick to each other. Do not attempt to remove it. By brushing them with olive it, this is absorbed during baking, so that flour makes it part of the phyllo. “Pita” in Greek, which is the translation of pie, also means flat. So, a pita must be the flat with the filling not being more than 2 – 3 cm high. As I had a lot of filling, I used the large baking tin of my oven which is 40 x 35 cm large. In order to cover the sides of the baking tin I used four sheets, each one covering a corner of the baking tin. In some parts the phyllos covered each other. I added the other two on top. The phyllo sheets are a bit bigger than the size of the baking tin, so the edges were tucked inside, with the help of the brush.
When baked, I advise you to cut the pieces immediately, so that some of the steam which is trapped inside to be released so that the phyllo will remain crispy.
It was raining that day so I couldn’t take any pictures outside.
The first day we ate it as a main dish with some broccoli and the leftover was even better the next day as a snack!
All the family loved it and this is a dish I will be making over and over again!
- 1 cup olive oil, divided (1/4 for frying and ¾ for brushing)
- 780 grams grated frozen butternut squash
- 600 grams fresh spinach, blanched and water squeezed
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1 ½ cups finely chopped herbs (dill, spring onions, kafkalithres, myronia or add more dill, parsley and other herbs)
- 4 large eggs
- 300 grams crumbled feta cheese
- 1 tbsp salt
- Freshly grated black pepper
- 6 sheets of thick (country style) phyllo pastry
- 50 grams grated graviera cheese.
- Grate the butternut squash.
- Blanche the spinach until it wilts. Drain and set aside to cool.
- Squeeze out all the fluid and cut it into smaller pieces.
- In a heavy skillet heat the olive oil and sauté the onion until translucent. Add the grated butternut squash, mix until the ice breaks, cover with the lid and cook until the water evaporates.
- Add the spinach in the pan, mix and cook for one minute.
- Remove from the heat and set aside until it cools.
- Add the herbs, crumbled feta, eggs, salt and pepper and mix well.
- Preheat oven to 200o C.
- Brush a large baking tin 40 x 35 cm, with olive oil. Add the first sheet of phyllo, covering the sides of the baking tin. Brush it with olive oil. Continue with 2nd, 3rd and 4th sheet, brushing them with olive oil.
- Add the filling to cover the whole surface and spread it with a spoon. Grate the cheese on top.
- Fold the phyllos on top of the filling and brush them with olive oil.
- Add the 5th sheet of phyllo and brush it with olive oil. Tuck the edges with the brush to go inside the baking tin.
- Add the last sheet and brush again with olive oil, tucking the edges inside.
- Score with a sharp knife.
- Lower oven heat to 180o C and bake for about 45 minutes or until golden brown on top.
- Cut it into pieces and serve.
- Enjoy as a main dish with a salad or as a side dish or snack.
If you cannot find thick phyllo, you can use regular phyllo by adding more sheets on the bottom layer and more on top.
Make sure that each sheet is brushed with olive oil.
Other relevant recipes:
Kopiaste and Kali Orexi!