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Mediterranean Cooking from the Garden with Linda Dalal Sawaya—spanokopita with gluten free pita

posted on: Mar 9, 2016

BY: Linda Dalal Sawaya/Contributing Writer

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about making Greek spanokopita without the pita, and that was delicious. It is a close cousin to our Lebanese spinach pies. Yet I promised to make an attempt at a gluten free filo pastry, and so here it is, including my conclusions as to the results.


two forms of spanokopita © linda dalal sawaya 2016

I began with a recipe I found online for gluten free filo pastry, and modified the spinach filling to my taste.



spinach and feta cheese filling for spanokopita © linda dalal sawaya 2016

The gluten free dough requires gluten free all purpose flour plus a gluten free modified tapioca flour. This ingredient gives the gluten free flour capacity to hold together, when frequently GF flour will crumble and not hold shape or allow much manipulation. I especially enjoyed that the recipe called for olive oil and lemon juice in the dough.


gluten free filo pastry dough for spanokopita © linda dalal sawaya 2016

My photos illustrate the lack of perfection I achieved in this first attempt, and yet, overall, the little baked pies were flavorful, although not as light as they’d be if made with traditional wheat flour filo pastry dough.


gluten free filo pastry dough for spanokopita © linda dalal sawaya 2016

If you don’t have to be gluten free, enjoy traditional filo either commercially made or homemade, if you have the skills, time, and patience to endeavor such a feat. I enjoyed the effort of making a gluten free “filo” which did not come out transparent, but I delighted in the process and the results.



rolling and filling gluten free filo pastry dough for spanokopita © linda dalal sawaya 2016


baked spanokopita pies © linda dalal sawaya 2016

My baking tray replete with spinach-filled triangles, and I decided to try another form: layering some of the dough into glass pyrex custard baking dishes, which were much easier to deal with than the triangles, cute as the triangles are.


baked ramekins of spanokopita © linda dalal sawaya 2016

The little ramekin version also baked up very attractively, as I folded the edges of the pastry onto itself. Both spanokopitas were equally delicious—the little triangle pies perfect as finger-food appetizers, while the ramekin pies more suitable for a plate, knife, and fork.

baked spanokopita © linda dalal sawaya 2016

I wish I didn’t need to be gluten free, and yet these almost totally satisfy my longing, even though the dough is not as light and flakey as traditional filo in spite of brushing on copious amounts of clarified butter on it. Still, it was worth the effort, should you decide to give it a go for an excellent spring time addition to your table. Happy cooking and sahtein!

Linda Dalal Sawaya is a Portland artist, cook, Master Gardener, daughter of Lebanese immigrants, and author of Alice’s Kitchen: Traditional Lebanese Cooking   

Remember, as my mother Alice said, “If you make it with love, it will be delicious!”

story and all photos © linda dalal sawaya 2016