phyllo torte with spinach, feta and dill

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I just realized I’ve been wanting to make this tart for almost 9 years. I was in my college apartment when I read, and drooled over, Melissa Clark’s article in the NYT about her friend’s phyllo and feta torte. It feels like a lifetime ago (I think more has changed about my life than has remained the same), but the desire to make this torte has stayed strong. To be frank, 9 years is an embarrassing amount of time to have a recipe in the queue. I can’t even believe my recipe saving system has been around that long, but I'm thankful its still with me and that I finally made this torte. The original recipe is made with feta, ricotta and herbs, and at the end it’s drizzled with honey for a gorgeous golden brown, glistening, sweet, salty, crispy torte. 

I don’t know why I put it off for so long, other than feeling hesitant to fill a 12-cup bundt pan with so much cheese, butter, and honey— especially when I lived alone!

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It always felt too decadent and rich, and so I put it on the back burner for almost a decade to figure out how to make it with less guilt. That day arrived, and I used a spanakopita inspired filling to give this torte a touch of nutrition. Yes, the butter and cheese are still there, but the spinach clears my mind of the guilt, and it should clear yours too. This torte is incredibly easy to make— it’s the least fussy phyllo recipe I’ve ever made. You simply layer the phyllo over and over again into the bundt pan (no brushing with butter required!), scoop in the filling, cover it with the ends of the phyllo, poke a bunch of holes through the torte with a long knife and pour melted butter all over the top. The butter seeps through the torte to the bottom of the pan, and along the edges, to create gorgeous layers of crispy golden phyllo. The beauty of this torte is you can do whatever you want with the filling: change or remove the greens, add different cheeses, toss in pancetta or bacon or roasted chicken, switch up the herbs— the flexibility is endless. Just make sure, as Melissa reminds us, to keep the ratio of 3 eggs to 1 1/2 lbs ricotta. 


phyllo torte with spinach, feta and dill

serves 10- 12 | recipe adapted from Melissa Clark, The New York Times

ingredients

  • 3- 10 oz packets of frozen spinach, thawed and drained

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 3 leeks, halved and thinly sliced

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

  • 1 1/2 pounds (3 1/4 cups), whole-milk ricotta

  • 1 1/2 cups (6 oz) crumbled feta (preferably French or Greek)

  • 3 eggs

  • ⅓ cup chopped dill

  • 3 scallions, finely sliced

  • 2 tbsp pecorino romano (or other hard, salty cheese such a parmigiano reggiano)

  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted

  • 1 lb box phyllo dough, thawed in the refrigerator overnight

directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.

  2. Place spinach in the center of a clean towel, gather corners together, and twist towel to wring excess liquid out of spinach. Get as much out as you can to prevent phyllo from getting soggy. Transfer spinach to a large bowl, break up into small pieces and set aside.

  3. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and cook leeks until just beginning to soften, 5- 7 minutes. Add garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook until vegetables are tender, 4- 6 minutes more. Transfer to bowl with spinach.

  4. Add ricotta, feta, eggs, dill, and scallions. Add 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper and mix well until combined. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

  5. Brush a 12-cup Bundt pan very liberally with some of the melted butter and sprinkle cheese into bottom of Bundt pan. Drape a sheet of phyllo on top of Bundt pan, poke a hole into phyllo where center tube is and push phyllo into pan to line it. Do this with another phyllo sheet, but place it perpendicular to first sheet. Continue adding phyllo sheets in this crisscross manner until all sheets (of both packets) are used. Edges of phyllo should hang over edges of pan.

  6. Scrape cheese filling into pan, and fold edges of phyllo over filling. Using a sharp knife, poke a lot of holes (at least 20) in dough that reach all the way to bottom of pan. Slowly pour melted butter over torte; some butter will seep through holes and some will remain on top of dough.

  7. Place Bundt pan on a baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour 15 minutes, or until torte is puffy and golden brown. Allow torte to cool in pan for 1 to 2 hours before inverting onto a plate and slicing. Serve warm or at room temperature.