Spanakopita

After creating vegan feta recently, I began to wonder what else I could use it in besides salads.  I was struck by the idea of spanakopita.  I haven’t had much Greek food in my life, so I’m not sure where the craving came from, but I’m glad I listened to it.  The spanakopita, while time-consuming, was absolutely worth the effort.  And my Greek colleague, in addition to teaching me how to properly pronounce spanakopita, gave my version the thumbs up!

Spanakopita

  • 8-10 sheets of phyllo pastry (many storebought versions are vegan, but check the ingredients to make sure)
  • 750 g of fresh spinach
  • 1 Onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2-3 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
  • 1-2 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
  • 8 green onions, green parts only, chopped
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper
  • 1 recipe vegan feta (see below)
  • 1 recipe vegan ricotta (see below)
  • Olive oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C/350 F.  Lightly grease a 9X12 inch baking pan with olive oil.  Begin by layering one phyllo sheet, then brushing with olive oil (and a pastry brush if you have one).  Layer another phyllo sheet on top of that one, and coat it with olive oil  Continue until you have used up half your pastry sheets.  Place these in the oven for 10-15 minutes to ‘pre-bake’ the bottom layer of crust and prevent it from going soggy.
  2. In the meantime, heat a small amount of olive oil in a frying pan and saute the onions until translucent, then add the garlic, dill, mint and green onions and saute until fragrant, 2-3 minutes.  Add a pinch of nutmeg and some freshly ground salt and pepper and saute for another minute, then remove from the heat.
  3. Steam or saute the spinach until cooked, then allow to cool and squeeze out any excess water.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, mix the spinach, the onion/garlic/herb mixture, the ricotta and the feta until well combined.  Scoop this onto the pre-baked layers of phyllo dough and spread out evenly.  Put a layer of phyllo dough on top of this, brush with oil, add another layer and continue (brushing all layers with oil) until you’ve used all the phyllo dough.  Brush the final layer with olive oil and cut into squares, cutting through the top layers of phyllo and spinach mixture but not cutting through the bottom layers of phyllo dough (leave those intact!).
  5. Bake for 15 minutes or so, until the edges or the crust have turned golden brown.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature or slightly above.  Cut through the bottom layers of dough in the squares and serve with crusty bread and a Greek salad.

Vegan Feta

Ingredients

  • 200 g firm tofu (I used Cauldron brand), crumbled roughly to feta-size chunks
  • 1 tbsp white miso
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1.5 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-2 tsp dried Italian herb blend
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp tahini

Instructions

  1. Crumble tofu roughly into a bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix the miso, vinegar, lemon juice, salt, Italian herb blend, nutritional yeast and tahini until thoroughly combined.  Pour this mixture of the tofu and mix thoroughly.
  3. Refrigerate.   Leave to marinate overnight.  Best served after it has marinated overnight, as the flavours will have melded better.

Vegan Ricotta

  • 200 g drained and pressed firm tofu
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes

Instructions

1. In a spice grinder, grind cashews until fine.
2. In a food processor, blend ground cashews, tofu, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and nutritional yeast until it forms a thick paste.

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