Albanian Shapkat with spinach is a Corn Pie Casserole filled with spinach, feta cheese and dill. This is easily one of my favorite dishes from when I lived in Albania. Now, anytime my mom comes to visit she offers to cook it for me and my kids who love this dish too.
Shapkat or Spinach Corn Pie is similar to Spanakopita, instead of phyllo dough it uses a corn based dough instead.
My native country, Albania is a small country however it is a rich country in culinary traditions among many others. Each region has such a variety of dishes and ways of cooking certain foods that I’m looking forward to next time I visit. Albania is situated geographically in the Mediterranean, Balkan and SouthEast regions in Europe giving it a distinct advantage for its location and climate. Thus the tasty foods growing there combined with some Ottoman, Latin and Greek culinary influences give my native land a unique perspective in cooking.
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What is Albanian Shapkat?
Shapkat is a traditional Albanian dish that originated in the city of Gjirokastra where my paternal grandparents are from. Shapkat is also called lakror, pispili etc in different regions in Albania. The traditional way to fill this corn casserole is with spinach, however variations of the filling include leek, wild cabbage, collard greens and some other local greens (hithra etc)..
How to serve this Corn Pie Casserole?
This corn pie casserole filled with spinach is a vegetarian dish and highly nutritious because of the amount of spinach per serving.
In Albania, this dish is usually served with a side of greek yogurt and seasonal salads. It’s a perfect meal for Meatless Mondays. And it is a great way for kids to eat lots of spinach.
Here’s an example of how we served shapkat one of the times my mom made it for all of us.
Spinach Corn Pie Casserole Recipe
This recipe is how my mom makes shapkat. There are slightly different methods of cooking this dish and each family has their way. The recipe and tips I’m sharing below is according to my mom’s recipe. Also, the tips below is how we make Shapkat here in USA so the serving amounts and ingredients are based on location.
- Use white corn flour
- Use parchment paper to avoid the pie sticking to the bottom. In the absence of parchment paper, sprinkle some olive oil to the pan before adding the pie. Then add about 1 tbsp of corn flour to create a layer that will prevent the pie from sticking.
- If using spinach for filling, no need to cook prior to baking but if using leek or wild cabbage, you need to boil them for few minutes prior to filling the corn pie.
- It’s better to use green onions, but in the absence of green onions replace with a small yellow onion.
- My mom’s recipe doesn’t include eggs but you can definitely add eggs in the filling to increase protein content. On a video I made for this recipe, I did include eggs.
Spinach Corn Pie Casserole [Albanian Shapkat]
- 500 grams corn flour (17.6 ozs)
- 10 oz spinach
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1 lb feta cheese
- 1 bunch fresh green onions or 1 medium yellow onion
- 3 tbsps chopped fresh dill
- 0.5 tsp salt
- 1 cup milk
- Mix the corn flour with milk and a sprinkle of salt. Add water as needed to get it to be a thick consistency that can be managed by hand. You don’t want the dough to be runny.
- Chop spinach, it doesn’t need to be fine. Put the chopped spinach in a bowl. Add chopped onion, more salt, dill and any other cooking greens you might like. Mix by hand and squeeze the spinach as you prepare the mix. This process makes the flavors really mix with each other.
- Lay a piece of parchment paper on the baking tray. Separate the corn dough in 2 pieces: one about ¾ and the other ¼. Start spreading the bigger pieces in the bottom of the tray over the parchment paper.
- Once the dough is even (use your hands or a spoon to help make it even), sprinkle few tbsps of olive oil over it. Then add the spinach mix. Then chop the feta cheese and spread it on top of the spinach.
- Get the smaller dough piece and put it in a bowl. Add 2-3 tbsps of water and mix it well. You want this part of the dough to be runny. Spread over the spinach. It’s ok for a little bit of spinach to show here and there. Also this layer will be a lot thinner than the bottom.
- Lastly grab a handful of corn flour if you have any left and sprinkle over the pie.
- Add the remaining olive oil by sprinkling it on top with a tbsp. It might seem like a lot of oil but both corn and spinach absorb it really well when cooking so the final baked casserole won’t be too greasy.
- Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes then lower temperature to 380 degrees and bake for another 20 minutes or until the surface is golden brown. Turn heat off and let the tray inside the oven for another 15 minutes. Serve warm with a side of greek yogurt.
If you would like to save this recipe for later, please pin the below image to Pinterest. If you need help in clarifying any of the steps, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
More Albanian Recipes:
If you would like to check more recipes from Albanian cuisine please check out the below links for some traditional meals: