Sunday, June 13, 2010

Spanakopita

Ooh, another Greek night at the parents'! This time I brought spanakopita. The real spanakopita, the way I always had it before I became vegan, is loaded with feta cheese and eggs. This is a kinder, gentler, milder version, based partially on the recipe in Vegan with a Vengeance, partly on this one, and partly just made up.

There is a lot of leeway in a recipe like this, so you should taste the filling and just add more of what you like to get the taste you want. I was cooking for omnis, for instance, so I went easy on the tofu. The Vegan with a Vengeance recipe calls for twice as much as I used, and that would have been good too. I'd also like to try it with the Betta feta recipe from The Uncheese Cookbook, or Tami's Faux feta from American Vegan Kitchen (both are excellent on their own, and the Faux feta is what you see on the Greek salad above, delicious and very very quick to make). Anyway, this is what I did:

Spanakopita

2 lbs fresh spinach (you could use frozen as well)
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 bunch scallions, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 pound tofu, crumbled (I used fresh tofu but any kind except silken would work fine)
1 tbsp miso paste
dash nutmeg
dash oregano
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
1 box phyllo dough, thawed
1/4 cup olive oil (or olive oil/Earth Balance mix)

[Options: The VWaV recipe calls for ground walnuts and in my opinion walnuts, almonds, or cashews would be great in this dish; I was cooking for a walnut-phobe, but I had some almonzano (see sidebar) so I added a few tablespoons of that, as well as 2 tbsp seasoned flour just to make assurance doubly sure that the final product wouldn't be soggy, though I'm not convinced this was useful or necessary.]

Steam the spinach if it's fresh, run it briefly under cold water to cool it, and press out as much water as you can. I ended up twisting it in a cloth and this worked well. Chop it finely and squeeze it again. Place it in a large bowl. Crumble the tofu and squeeze the excess water out of it in the same cloth. Add it to the bowl with the spinach.

Heat the 1 tbsp olive oil, and sauté the onions, scallions, and garlic just until the onions are translucent. Add to the bowl with the spinach, and add all the other ingredients up to phyllo dough. Taste the filling and adjust seasonings.



Cut the phyllo if you need to to fit your pan (I needed to cut mine). Set the scraps aside—maybe we can find a use for them later. You need to work fast now so the phyllo doesn't dry out. Brush the bottom of the pan with olive oil, add a phyllo layer, brush that lightly with olive oil, and add another layer. Keep adding layers until you have a bottom 7 layers deep. Add half the filling and spread it out neatly from edge to edge.

Place another phyllo layer on top of the filling, brush with olive oil, and add another phyllo layer. Now spread on the rest of the filling, and top with the last layers of phyllo—there should be five or six. Tuck in the corners and edges so you have a neat little package. Partially score the top with a sharp knife in a diagonal pattern.

Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes. The pastry should be cooked and golden but not too brown. The top phyllo layers may want to curl up. That's okay. Remove from the oven and let cool before cutting and serving. Spanakopita tastes best served at room temperature.

I had a little filling left over and wanted to taste this experimental dish before I inflicted it upon my relations, so I made these little cuties:


Mmmm. Not to worry. Five people and no leftovers. Everybody loved it! Ahem, and here's a gratuitous beauty shot of Cheeta, sleeping off this hot summer day...


5 comments:

  1. These are so beautiful and look delicious. You certainly have a way with food! I love Cheeta's sweet little matching pink nose and toe pads.

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  2. I love spanakopita....yours looks perfectly done and sounds like a really good combo of ingredients.

    Cheeta is a real cutie!

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  3. Thanks, Andrea and Rose! Why, it's true, Cheeta's nose and toe pads *do* match!

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  4. I love spanakopita, just not working with phyllo dough though. I'm thinking maybe adding some smoked cheddar by V-bites Cheezly might give it a little bite to it.

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  5. Hi, Natalie:
    This type of filling is also really good as a filling in bread dough--calzone, or one big one, a whole pizza folded in half. The bread dough would hold up better to cheezy-type additions, I think.

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