Sitting on the couch, mindlessly watching TV, trying to forget about all the assignments piling up during my first week of school … who knew that inspiration would strike in this most unlikely of places? Eyes glazed over, mind numb, I glanced at the television and immediately saw the most mouth-watering dish I had seen in a long while. Now keep in mind, I’m most definitely a tart kind of gal — I’ve been known to brush cakes and even the occasional pie aside to try a particularly delicious-looking fruit tart. Despite this, I have never tried a savory tart … So, I was a bit skeptical when the hostess on the Food Network channel I was watching deemed the melty, flaky, steamy slice in front of her a spinach-olive tart. 

That skepticism, though, didn’t stop me from mentally bookmarking the meal to try later. I made a few adjustments to the recipes I found online for Greek tarta spanaki, opting to use pastry sheets rather than the traditional phyllo dough, adding in some Kalamata olives for an extra kick  and mirroring the approach for spanakopita instead (closed rather than open-faced). The result? One of the best tarts — sweet or savory — that I’ve ever baked!

Bethany Clements / Daily Nexus

Spinach-Olive Spanakopita

(Adapted from “Tarta Spanaki”)

This recipe is meant to serve 6 (but can definitely last for longer if served alongside other courses/sides!)

Prep time: ~ 20 minutes

Cook time: 45 minutes

Total time: ~ 65 minutes 


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups of green onion (could be alternated with leeks)
  • 1 medium-sized onion (chopped)
  • 2 sticks of celery (chopped) (optional)
  • 2 garlic cloves (chopped)
  • 2 lbs fresh spinach, trimmed and chopped
  • ½ cup Kalamata olives (chopped)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 lb fresh ricotta cheese
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 sheets of puff pastry (You can also opt to use one, if you want to try an open-faced tart)
  • Flour as needed
  • A pinch of chives (chopped)


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.
  3. Chop green onions, onions and celery, and add them to the olive oil. Sauté for about five minutes, stirring occasionally until vegetables are wilted.
  4. Stir in the garlic. Continue to sauté for around one minute.
  5. Steam fresh spinach in a steamer basket until wilted — about eight minutes — and add it to the green onion mixture.
  6. Place the mixture in a colander and press with the back of a large spoon/spatula until liquid drains out. Transfer to a bowl.
  7. In a separate bowl, whisk together the two eggs and stir in the ricotta cheese until combined.
  8. Slowly add the ricotta mixture to the bowl with the spinach-and-green onion mixture, stirring well. Season to taste.
  9. Unwrap the puff pastry sheet onto a clean, lightly floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll it open a little, so that it is larger than the circumference of the tart pan you are using.
  10. Cover the tart pan with parchment paper and transfer the dough into the tart pan.
  11. Fill the tart with the spinach mixture, then roll the excess puff pastry dough around the circumference of the pan to form a rim.
  12. Because some members of my family don’t like olives, I added the chopped olives on half of the dish at this point. Alternatively, you can mix the olives in with the cheese-and-egg mixture if you’d like them in the filling.
  13. Roll the other sheet of puff pastry just as you did with the first one and use it as a top layer of crust for your dish (optional, you can also leave it open-faced for more of a tart-like appearance). Bunch in the excess dough to create a rim of crust around the pie dish. (To designate the half of the dish that had olives, I put more chopped olives on the top of that half of the crust as well.)
  14. In a small bowl, whisk the white of the remaining egg and brush the top layer of crust (or the uncovered part of the filling).
  15. Bake for about 45 minutes, until the dough is set and golden. 
  16. Remove the tart from the oven and let it sit for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with chopped chives and enjoy!

Bethany Clements / Daily Nexus

While I ended up with more of a traditional spinach pie, I’m sure that leaving the dish as an open-faced tart would be just as delicious. The filling, too, can be altered to your liking — I added celery, sprinkled chives on top and limited the olives to half the dish due to my family’s preferences. (Make sure to share your own twists on Instagram by tagging @ucsbonthemenu!) 

Eat a slice of your tart on its own, grab it for a quick snack  or serve it alongside other traditional Greek dishes for a meal laced with vivid flavors. I know I personally will be snatching leftovers for lunch this whole week! Whenever and wherever you choose to sneak a bite of your spinach-olive spanakopita, there’s no doubt that its buttery, flaky crust and rich, savory filling will leave you entranced after just a single bite.