Hortopita is thought by many to be the ancestor of spanakopita (the ubiquitous Greek spinach pie).  Hortopita uses whatever greens (horta) and aromatic herbs are available.  These were traditionally gathered wild from the hills in the spring and winter, when hardy greens were all to be found.  A classic hortopita is made with touloumotiri, a briny cheese of goat's and sheep's milk, but feta does just as well.  

Makes 8-12 servings


  • 2½ cups spinach
  • 2 cups mixed greens (swiss chard, horseradish greens, beet greens, turnip greens, etc.)
  • 2 tbsp parsley
  • 1 tbsp dill
  • 3 stalks of spring garlic, green and white ends separated, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup leek, roots and green stems removed, finely chopped
  • ½ small red onion finely chopped
  • 7 oz feta
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional as needed
  • All-purpose flour, as needed
  • Sesame seeds (optional)
  • 1 package store-bought phyllo dough, thawed and brough to room temperature


  1. Finely chop the spinach and the greens, removing the stems. Add them to a large mixing bowl. 
  2. Add the 2½ teaspoons of salt to the greens. Toss the greens with the salt, massaging it into their leaves, until they begin to exude water.  Their volume should reduce by about half.
  3. Rest for 30 minutes, allowing the greens to marinade in the salt. 
  4. Squeeze the water from the greens and transfer to a new bowl.
  5. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan and add the red onion, leek, and white parts of the spring onions. Cook over medium heat until aromatic and beginning to soften.  Transfer to the bowl with the greens.
  6. Add the herbs, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the remaining spring onion, and the feta to the bowl. Mix well. 
  7. Prepare the pie: preheat oven to 350°F.  Remove the phyllo dough from the refrigerator. Dust a work station with flour to maneuver the dough, as needed. 
  8. Grease a 13 x 9" pan with plenty of olive oil. Add a little more than you normally would.  This helps to create a crispy, solid base for the crust. 
  9. Add 1 sheet of phyllo dough to the pan. Fold in any extra dough into the shape of the pan.  Brush with a layer of olive oil.  Repeat for a total of five layers.  This will be the base of your pie. 
  10. Use 5 phyllo sheets for the bottom of the pie, 2 phyllo sheets for the middle layer, and 5 phyllo sheets for the top of the pie. Leave the bottom phyllo to hang out of the pan's edges to overlap on top at the end and secure the filling. Fold the middle and top phyllo's to fit if they're too big for the pan.
  11. Add half of the filling mixture to the pan, spreading it evenly over the base.  Add another two more sheets of phyllo overtop, brushing each with olive oil.  
  12. Add the final half of the filling and top with 5 more sheets of phyllo, brushing each with olive oil and tucking in any excess.  Seal the pie but folding the edges into a crust around the edge of the pan.  Brush with more olive oil.  
  13. Pre-cut the crust into 8-12 pieces, taking care not to cut all the way to the bottom.  You want the crust to bake up separate but the bottom to hold everything together.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired.  
  14. Bake for about 1 hour, or until the crust is crisp and golden. 
  15. Move the pie to a wire rack to cool.  Cut the pie along its 12 pieces to encourage steam to escape. Cool to room temperature before serving. 
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