This is one classic dish that cannot be improved upon. The spinach, feta, and dill filling enclosed in crisp, buttery filo is a superb marriage of flavor and texture. It is not as difficult to prepare as it seems just follow these directions and you can’t go wrong. If you are entertaining, take advantage of the fact that the pie can be prepared up to 24 hours in advance; it will be just as crisp.

    SERVES 6 TO 8

    2 pounds loose fresh spinach (weight with stems) or two 10-ounce packages fresh spinach, washed, stemmed, and thoroughly drained; or two 10-ounce packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed

    Вј cup olive oil

    3 medium onions, finely diced

    Вј cup minced fresh dill, or 2 tablespoons dried dill

    Вѕ teaspoon salt

    Freshly ground pepper to taste

    в…“ cup milk

    Вј pound feta cheese, finely crumbled

    1 cup small-curd cottage cheese

    4 eggs, well beaten

    1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted

    16 sheets filo dough (12 Г— 16 inches)

    1. If using fresh spinach remove the stems and discard. Cook the leaves, covered, in a large skillet with just the water that clings to them (when washed) until the spinach is completely wilted. Put it in a strainer, press out all of the liquid with the back of a spoon, and chop the spinach on a cutting board until minced. If using frozen spinach, squeeze it dry to remove all the moisture.
    2. In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add the onions and cook until golden, about 5 minutes, then add the cooked spinach and heat through.
    3. Add the dill, salt, and a liberal seasoning of freshly ground pepper, and cook, stirring often, until all of the liquid has evaporated and the spinach has begun to stick to the pan, about 3 minutes.
    4. Scrape the mixture into a large bowl and stir in the milk. Cool to room temperature. Add the feta cheese, cottage cheese, and eggs, and mix well.
    5. Preheat the oven to 300В°F. With a pastry brush coat the sides and bottom of a 12 x 7 x 2-inch rectangular baking dish with some of the melted butter. Line the dish with a sheet of the filo dough and press it firmly into the corners and sides of the dish. There will be some overlap.
    6. Brush the entire surface of the filo dough with a little of the melted butter (don’t drench it), then lay another sheet of filo on top. Brush this layer with some melted butter and continue this procedure until 8 sheets have been used.
    7. With a rubber spatula spread the spinach mixture evenly over the top layer of the dough. Place another layer of filo over the spinach mixture, coat it with some melted butter, and repeat this procedure until the remaining 8 sheets have been used on top.
    8. With scissors or a small sharp knife trim the edges of the filo close to the pie (leave Вј-inch rim around it) and brush the top layer of the filo with the remaining melted butter. Make shallow cuts through the first few layers to mark off where you will cut at serving time. (This prevents the top layer from flaking too much afterward.) May be prepared to this point, covered, and chilled up to 24 hours in advance.
    9. Bake for 1 hour, or until the pastry is evenly golden and crisp. It is best to let the pie sit for 30 minutes or so before serving, for, like quiche, it is more flavorful and has a better texture when served warm rather than hot. To serve cut into squares.

    NOTE: Leftover Spanakopita is great reheated and served as an appetizer, and it is also delicious served room temperature at a picnic.