I remember once that a friend was visiting from a faraway state and was unfamiliar with the NY-style diner. It's really 24 hours? This huge thing is the menu? You can really get ANY of this stuff at ANY time? What's with all the Greek food? I don't know diners any other way. Everywhere else I've been in the states, a "diner" is not remotely a diner. I think the word "diner" in most of the country suggests simple comfort grub, like burgers and fries and eggs and pancakes. To me, the quintessential diner dinner is spinach pie with a Greek salad.
Spanakopita is probably more commonly known as an hors d'oeuvres at weddings, wrapped as little crispy triangles. Diner style spanakopita is pie-style, a huge square cut from a huge tray. It is certainly easier to make that way, though perhaps not easier to eat. And it's a very simple dish, just a little time-consuming and perhaps a little frustrating, depending on how you feel about phyllo. Phyllo is a pain in the ass, but at least for this dish you're putting on so many layers that no one will care if there's a tear or two. Serve this with a big salad piled with crumbled feta, kalamata olives, grape tomatoes, chopped cucumber, and thinly sliced red onion for the complete diner experience. Recipe after the jump:
SPANAKOPITA (SPINACH PIE)
2 lbs fresh spinach, washed well and spun dry
3 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion
1/4 cup fresh dill
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 lb greek feta
1 egg, beaten
1 lb phyllo leaves
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot, heat 2 tbsps olive oil. Add the spinach and saute until wilted. You may need to do this in 2 batches. Remove the spinach to a large bowl and allow to cool. Add the remaining oil to the same pot and saute the onions until translucent. Set aside to cool. When the spinach is cool enough to handle, squeeze out the excess liquid, then chop well. Add the onions, dill, and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Crumble the feta into the spinach mixture, then add the beaten egg and stir well to combine.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter in a small pan. Using a pastry brush, butter the sides and bottom of a 9/13 baking pan. Place 10 layers of phyllo dough in the bottom of the dish, buttering each layer (you may need to cut down the sheets to the correct size of the dish, but it is not a big deal if it is slightly large and the sides go up the sides of the pan slightly). Be sure to keep the phyllo damp by covering the unused sheets with a damp towel until you use them. After 10 layers of phyllo, spoon the spinach mixture evenly over the pie. Top with another 10 layers of phyllo, again buttering every layer. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and crispy. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing into large squares.