There are some dishes that all Greek restaurants have to serve to give diners an authentic Greek culinary experience. Spanakopita is one of those dishes. This classic spinach pie is something you’ll find in every home and cafe in Greece, and in Greek restaurants everywhere. And Ya Mas is no exception. As a traditional Greek dish, spanakopita has been around for centuries.
Let’s take a look at where this favorite of Greek restaurants everywhere came from and why we continue to love it.
Savory Pies of Ancient Times
Savory pies have been a staple of the Greek diet since ancient times. One of the earliest records we have is from the poet Philoxenos in the 5th century B.C. who described a cheese pie made with honey. Wild greens and herbs have long been a part of Greek cuisine, so it is only natural that they would make their way into pies. The spinach pie as we know it today likely developed later, most likely when the Ottoman Empire occupied Greece in the 15th century.
Spinach and Phyllo
The three key ingredients of spanakopita are spinach, feta, and phyllo pastry. Of those three ingredients, two of them, spinach and phyllo, probably came to Greece by way of the Ottoman Empire. Spinach originated in the Middle East and then spread first to Spain and then to the rest of Europe. Greek farmers discovered that they could easily cultivate this leafy green, which was a delicious addition to a savory pie.
Phyllo is likely related to the Ottoman Yufka pastry. The dough is stretched into paper-thin layers and then is brushed with olive oil or butter before baking. The name phyllo comes from the Greek word for leaf because its thin and crispy layers resemble leaves when baked.
Spanakopita in Today’s Greek Restaurants
If you’ve ever tried spanakopita, you’ll understand why it’s lasted through the centuries. A filling of spinach and feta inside layers of crispy, flaky phyllo pastry is the perfect addition to any meal. It can even be a meal by itself, it’s that good. And if you haven’t tried spanakopita before, what are you waiting for? Come to Ya Mas and try it for yourself!