You can save yourself the effort and use shop-bought filo pastry for this savoury Greek pastry. But once you’ve mastered the technique you’ll want to return to this delicious vegetarian recipe time and time again.
Equipment and preparation: You will need a pasta machine for this recipe.
Make the pastry by sifting the flour into a bowl and making a well in the middle. Mix the water and oil together and gradually pour it onto the flour, mixing as you go. You’re looking for a soft, but not sticky dough. If the mix is too wet, add a sprinkling of flour.
Once the dough has come together, take it out of the bowl and start kneading. The dough should be at a consistency where you shouldn’t need any flour to knead. Work the dough for about 10-15 minutes, or until it has a smooth appearance. Wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for a minimum of one hour.
While the dough is resting, make the filling. Heat a large wide pan with a lid over a medium heat. Wash the spinach thoroughly and add it to the pan, squashing it down if necessary. Season with salt and pepper and put the lid on.
Let the spinach cook down for about five minutes, stirring occasionally until it’s completely cooked. Drain into a colander and press with the back of a spoon to get rid of as much moisture as possible. Press down with kitchen paper to remove any excess moisture. Return to the pan to further dry out, and add the nutmeg and lemon zest.
Turn off the heat and leave until completely cool. Once cold, stir through the egg, crumble in the feta and mix thoroughly. Check the seasoning and add salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste.
Before making the pastry it is important to have everything ready. Lay out a large sheet of baking parchment and dust generously with cornflour. Melt the butter ready for brushing the pastry and have a flat baking tray buttered and a pasta machine ready. Preheat the oven to 175C/350F/Gas 4.
To make the pastry, divide it into five equal balls keeping them covered with a damp tea towel to prevent drying. Take one ball and flatten to a rough rectangle using a rolling pin. Sprinkle your hands and the pastry liberally with cornflour.
Beginning with the widest setting, pass the pastry through the pasta machine, and continue until it has gone through to setting number seven (of nine). You don’t want to take it through the thinnest setting, as you need to be able to stretch it more with your hands. Using the back of your hands gently stretch the pastry width ways until it is as thin as you can manage. Don’t worry about the odd hole, as the layers should cover this up. You should have a long rectangular shape. Lay the pastry onto the baking parchment, brush with melted butter and cover while you roll out the rest.
Each time you roll a sheet of pastry, lay it over the top of the previous sheet brushing with butter between each layer. Continue until you have used all the pastry.
Place the spinach along one of the long edges of the rectangle. Using the baking parchment underneath, roll up the spinach inside the pastry, so that you form a long sausage shape. Fold over the ends before you roll to prevent any filling from coming out. Starting with one end, roll up the sausage into a spiral shape and gently slide onto the greased baking tray. Add the egg yolk to some melted butter and brush this mixture over the spanakopita.
Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and sea salt and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden-brown. Serve in slices.