I don’t remember when I first started eating spanakopita, a Greek “spinach pie” traditionally made in individual phyllo wrapped triangles. It took me years to learn to really enjoy eating greens, so I would have avoided it in my twenties, but I’m sure I had it in a Greek restaurant at some point and thought, this is actually pretty tasty.

But all of that pastry brushing of butter onto phyllo dough, the amount of butter involved, and individually wrapping each “pie” kept me from making them at home for a very long time. And then I found this recipe in Eating Well magazine (December 2008). They had an option for making one large tart rather than individual tartlets, and I thought, that’s probably worth a try.

I’ve made this a couple of times a year ever since. It’s a great way to use up bags of greens languishing in your freezer. I’ve made it with spinach, kale, chard, and combinations of all three.

THIS version I made with, wait for it…lamb’s quarter (Chenopodium album). Yup, that common weed in your garden bed right now. Lamb’s quarter is a well known edible weed for those who like to forage for such things. I’ve known this for 30 years, but it wasn’t until I was at a outdoor educator teacher training about 15 years ago that I was actually brave enough to taste it. One of the instructors, who was leading an edible/medicinal walk, had cooked some up for us. And you know what? It tasted like spinach. A LOT like spinach.

Turns out lamb’s quarter and spinach are both in the Chenopodioideae plant sub family (parent family Amaranthaceae). Many of the plants in this plant family, often called the Goosefoot family, are edible. That includes beets/chard, quinoa and redroot pigweed, Amaranthus retroflexus, another ubiquitous garden weed.

Every year I plan on harvesting some lamb’s quarter to eat. Every year I miss the window and let it get too big to be tasty. This year I finally succeeded. You want to harvest the whole plant when its smaller than the length of your hand. They are easy to pull at this stage (they can become seriously anchored in the ground when large) and because the species is ubiquitous over the entire US, its likely growing in your garden right now!

Easier Spanakopita Tart

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print

A tasty way to eat more greens

You can also substitute frozen greens for fresh in this recipe, or blanch and chop them rather than sauteing fresh. Phyllo dough is found in the frozen food aisle, usually near the frozen pies/desserts. It’s rolled up, so look for a long narrow box.


  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 16 cups spinach or other greens, (about 1 pound), tough stems removed, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese, fat content of your choice
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta or goat cheese
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, or 1-2 teaspoons dried
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped (not oil-packed)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 10 sheets (9-by-14-inch) phyllo dough, thawed according to package directions. (Save the rest for another use).
  1. Directions

    Take phyllo dough out of the freezer, let thaw on the counter according to package directions, unroll and keep covered so it doesn’t dry out. You need to do this a minimum of 30 minutes before you start the rest of the prep or you won’t be able to separate the sheets. Ask me how I know.
  2. Preheat oven to 325. Line a cookie sheet or half sheet pan with a piece of parchment or tinfoil. Lightly grease if using tinfoil.
  3. Mix eggs, ricotta, feta or goat cheese, sun dried tomatoes (I leave them pretty chunky), dill (I’m not a huge dill fan, so I go easy on this), black pepper, nutmeg (trust me on this), and 3/4 tsp of salt together in a large bowl.
  4. Saute onions over medium heat in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and a good pinch of salt until translucent and starting to brown a bit on the edges, about 5 minutes. Add greens of choice, by the handful, and continue to saute until wilted. Keep adding greens until they are all in the pan and wilted down. This should only take a couple of minutes, but might be a bit longer for thicker greens like kale.
  5. Let your onion/greens mix cool for a few minutes, then add to your bowl of cheeses and mix well. If using frozen thawed greens, just add them now. No need to saute first.
  6. Combine melted butter and 2 additional tablespoons of olive oil together in a small bowl.
  7. On your cookie sheet, lay out one large sheet of phyllo dough (mine is about the size of a half sheet pan – about 18″ x 13″. If yours is smaller for some reason, you can overlap layers on the edges to build your size). Using a pastry brush (I like the silicone ones – easier to clean), brush the sheet LIGHTLY with your butter/oil mixture. ( You can use your trending oil of choice here. Ghee? Coconut oil? Though butter is traditional). Add a second layer of phyllo and repeat. Continue until you have 10 layers of oiled dough built up.
  8. Take your spinach/cheese mixture and dump it in the middle of your oiled phyllo dough. Arrange so its roughly rectangular/oval in shape and in an even layer, leaving a couple of inches of dough uncovered around the entire edge.
  9. Fold edges of phyllo over the edge of the filling, so that the edges are covered, but the middle is still open. If you have any butter/oil mixture left, apply it to this rolled edge.
  10. Place on the middle rack of your preheated oven and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the center is hot and bubbly and the edges are crispy and browned.
  11. Remove from oven and serve immediately.