Spanakopita is a delicious Greek appetizer that combines spinach with flaky puff pastry and a creamy filling. To make these little bites of heaven at home, however, takes quite a lot of effort. But, this spanakopita casserole makes a delightful main dish that’s ready in under an hour all without dealing with any pastry at all.
To start making this casserole you’ll need to go ahead and cook your pasta, but only for 5 minutes. The rest of the cooking happens in the oven. You’ll also need to reserve some of the pasta water, which is how many great pasta dishes begin.
Then all the ingredients, except for the final cheese topping, are combined together in a bowl. The pasta water and ricotta cheese help add a creamy texture to this dish.
Once everything is mixed and poured into the casserole dish, then the cheese topping goes on.
The whole thing needs to be baked first for 25 minutes uncovered and then an additional 10 minutes uncovered so that the mozzarella can become melted.
And that’s all there is to this simple meal. While the casserole is about as far as one can get from the tedious nature of true spanakopita, the final result has some of the same flavors as the original: spinach, feta, and dill.
It couldn’t be easier to create this pasta bake at home for a crowd pleasing dinner any night of the week.
45 minutes to prepare / serves 6-8
- 1 16-ounce box penne
- 1 10-ounce box frozen chopped spinach (or equivalent of 1 pound fresh spinach, chopped)
- 1 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh dill, chopped (or 3 teaspoons dried dill)
- 1 15-ounce tub ricotta cheese
- Pinch each salt, pepper
- 1 8-ounce package part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese
- Preheat oven to 400˚.
- Cook pasta on stovetop for 5 minutes then drain. Reserve half cup of pasta cooking water before draining.
- Add spinach just before draining to thaw. If using fresh you can flash cook the spinach using the same method.
- Combine remaining ingredients, including reserved water, save for 1/4 cup feta and mozzarella cheeses.
- Pour mixture into 3-quart baking dish (9x13 inch) and top with remaining cheeses.
- Bake for 25 minutes covered.
- Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes to melt cheese topping.
Recipe adapted from Good Housekeeping.