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Many years ago, a Greek friend convinced me to make vegan spanakopita, a Greek spinach pie layered with creamy cheese and crispy phyllo pastry. Spanakopita is the quintessential vegetarian Greek food. In fact, it’s probably one of the first dishes you picture when you think of Greek cooking.
I wasn’t sure how well it could be veganised but I made my own vegan feta and…
It was heaven.
And my (non-vegan) Greek friend said it was delicious and authentic-tasting, too.
So here’s a dairy free spanakopita recipe that doesn’t sacrifice on flavour.
Want to make some more vegan Greek recipes with me?
A Note on Vegan Cheese for Vegan Spanakopita
Now, this isn’t any old vegan spanakopita.
I don’t do simple.
This recipe cuts no corners.
A lot of spanakopita recipes call for both feta and ricotta cheese.
So, we’re going to be making BOTH vegan feta and ricotta from scratch (using a good food processor!), then mix them up with spinach, layer with phyllo and bake them up!
If You Don’t Have Time for (Vegan) Cheesemaking…
If you don’t have the time or energy to make your own vegan cheese, you can make a “nistisimo” version of spanakopita. It’s still eggless spanakopita and dairy-free too; in this version in Greece they just leave out the cheese completely.
In Greece, traditional Orthodox believers following a “fasting” diet during Lent, which is in essence vegan (except for the addition of honey, sometimes).
(Top tip — if you’re ever in Greece, request the nistisimo/fasting food!)
To make the “nistisimo” or fasting version of spanakopita there’s no cheese. Just leave out the vegan cheese entirely for an easier version but bear in mind it won’t be as rich or creamy.
Up for vegan cheesemaking?
If you want super rich and creamy vegan spanakopita, then I highly recommend you include vegan cheese.
I’ve tried storebought vegan ricottas but I prefer this homemade version. Plus it’s healthy and is simple and quick to make. It might seem complicated but it actually only takes about 10 minutes to pop all the ingredients in the food processor and make your own cheese!
Equipment you’ll need
To make this recipe, you’ll need…
- Coffee/spice grinder (to save time–here’s how I save 20 hours by using a coffee grinder instead of soaking cashews)
- Food processor (click here to read my food processor buying guide)
- Mixing bowl (I like Pyrex because it doesn’t stain and is heat-safe)
- Cake pan/baking tin
- Frying pan
Looking for a creamy and rich vegan spanakopita recipe? Look no further!
- 8-10 sheets of phyllo pastry (many storebought versions are vegan, but check the ingredients to make sure)
- 750 g (around 1.5 lbs) 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)
- Melted vegan margarine or olive oil
- 200 g extra firm tofu, 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
- 200 g drained and pressed extra 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
- 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 melted vegan margarine and olive oil (using a pastry brush if you have one; if you don't just use your cleaned fingers). Layer another phyllo sheet on top of that one, and coat it with melted margarine/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.
- 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.
- Steam or saute the spinach until cooked, then allow to cool and squeeze out any excess water.
- 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!).
- Bake for 15 minutes or so, until the edges or the crust have turned golden brown.
- 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.
- Crumble tofu roughly into a bowl.
- 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.
- Refrigerate. Leave to marinate overnight. Best served after it has marinated overnight, as the flavours will have melded better.
- In a spice grinder , grind cashews until fine.
- In a food processor , blend ground cashews, tofu, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and nutritional yeast until it forms a thick paste.
If you make this recipe, I’d love to see how it turns out! Tag @theveganword or use the hashtag #theveganword on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. :)
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