Greek Recipes

Greek and Cypriot recipes

Hortopitakia: Savory Turnovers with Spinach or Greens and Herbs

In Greek: χορτοπιτάκια, pronounced hor-toh-pee-TAHK-yah

These tasty little turnovers can be made with homemade phyllo or commercial. They can be made ahead of time up to the cooking stage, and frozen for later use. In this version, I use spinach, but it can be made with the greens of your choice. For more help, see this recipe with photos.

Savory pitakia (turnovers) with homemade phyllo

Savory pitakia (turnovers) with homemade phyllo

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 8 minutes

Total Time: 48 minutes


  • 1 pound of spinach, fresh or frozen (washed, chopped)
  • 1 pounds of fresh fennel (leaves and stems), coarsely chopped
  • 1 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • sea salt to taste
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • olive oil for frying
  • 1/2 batch of fresh phyllo dough (or 2 pounds of puff pastry, or 25 pieces of phyllo circles, or 1 lbs of phyllo sheets)
  • flour for work surface


Make the filling: Sauté the fennel and spring onions in the oil until limp. Add water, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for 15-20 minutes. Add spinach, salt, and pepper. Cook uncovered over medium heat until the spinach wilts, about 3-5 minutes. Drain very well.


    Fennel requires a longer prep time than some other herbs. If not using fennel, simply sauté the onion, add water and other chopped greens and herbs, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook until wilted, then drain well.

Prepare the dough: Work on a floured surface. If using homemade phyllo dough, take a piece and roll it out to the thickness of 3-4 sheets of copier paper (setting 6 on a pasta machine). If using commercial puff pastry, roll it out to the same thickness.

Form the pies: Work on a lightly floured surface with dry hands.

  1. Using a saucer or other circular guide around 4 1/2 – 5 inches in diameter, cut out a circle of dough.
  2. Place a heaping forkful of the spinach and herb mixture on one side of the circle (see photo).
  3. Fold the other half of the circle over to form a half-moon shape.
  4. Using a fork or your fingers, pinch the edge all the way around to seal. (If the dough isn’t sealing well, wet fingers with water and pinch closed.)
  5. As each pie is made, set on clean cloth to keep dry. (This is the point at which these can be frozen for later use. See below.)

To use commercially prepared phyllo sheets:

  1. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight and bring to room temperature before opening the package and using.
  2. Cut phyllo sheets lengthwise into 2 1/2 to 3 inch strips (usually about 3-4 strips per sheet).
  3. Cut several sheets (and more as needed) into squares.
  4. Place a small square at one end of the phyllo strip and place 1 teaspoon of filling on the square, about 1 inch in from the edges (this helps keep the filling from leaking through).
  5. Fold up into a triangle.

Continue until dough and filling are used (about 25 pieces for the circles, about 50 for the triangles).

In a medium to large frying pan, heat 1/3 to 1/2 inch of oil over medium-high heat. Fry to a light golden on both sides. (Add more oil between batches if needed, and wait until heated to start frying.)

Drain on baking racks placed over absorbent paper towels or in a colander, and serve.

Prepare ahead and freeze: After forming the pitakia (small pies), place on flat trays covered with a towel. Cover with a towel and foil and place in freezer. Once frozen, they can be placed in plastic bags and kept in the freezer for several months. To cook, defrost for 10 minutes and fry as above.

Yield: 25 half-moon pies, 50 triangles

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