Written by Marilyn Hawkes Category: Veg Out Issue: March 2016
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photo by Alexandra GasparFor Essence Bakery owner Eugenia Theodosopoulos, making spanakopita ($8.95) is a family affair. Theodosopoulos prepares the Greek spinach pie using the third-generation family recipe she learned at her father’s knee. To this day, you’ll find spanakopita at every Theodosopoulos family celebration or holiday gathering, she says.

To make the savory pastry dish, Theodosopoulos brushes sheets of paper-thin phyllo dough with warm melted butter. She then layers the dough with fresh spinach mixed with onions, feta, eggs, garlic and a sprinkling of black pepper. Then she alternates spinach mix and phyllo, lightly buttering each layer. All told, the butter-brushed pie stacks up to more than 30 layers. After baking for 90 minutes, the spanakopita comes out golden brown and crisp on the outside with a soft pillow of spinach- and phyllo-laced filling inside.

It’s important to note that spanakopita is made with sheep’s milk feta cheese or a combination of sheep and goat milk, not cow milk. Theodosopoulos says. “Cow’s milk feta is not feta for a Greek.”

Served three to an order, the spinach triangles are complemented by a marinated Greek village salad of chopped grape tomatoes, cucumber, bell peppers, Kalamata olives, minced red onion and a bit of feta dressed with lemon juice mixed with buttery extra virgin olive oil. “It’s vibrant, crunchy and great with the warm, layered spinach pie,” the chef says proudly.

Essence Bakery
Two Valley locations, including
825 W. University Ave., Tempe

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