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Sunday, May 10, 2020

Spanakopita (Vegan, Dairy-Free)

Growing up, my sister would make us Spanakopita (or, Greek Spinach and Feta Pie) on special occasions.  I loved it, and even ate it when I was allergic to feta cheese.  Why care about a skin rash when it tasted so good? :p

A couple years back, I became aware that you CAN make Spanakopita vegan AND dairy free.  Besides solving my allergy situation, I could also feed this to my vegan dad!  

This recipe is modeled off of the Vegan Word's recipe.  It required quite a few steps, but it was well worth the time.  Try it, fall in love, and repeat!


10 sheets phyllo pastry
3 tablespoons oil or tahini for brushing the phyllo pastry
1 tablespoon oil
15 cups fresh spinach (about one large Costco pack), steamed, cooled, and drained (squeeze out any excess amounts of water)
1 onion, diced into small pieces
2 cloves garlic, chopped into fine pieces
3 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
6 green onions, chopped, making sure the white parts are chopped finely
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground chili pepper *optional*

Vegan Feta (to prepare beforehand)
1/2 pack drained extra firm tofu, crumbled into feta size pieces
1 tablespoon miso
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1.5 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon  dried thyme
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 teaspoons tahini

Vegan Ricotta (to prepare beforehand or while cooking) 
1/2 pack drained extra firm tofu, pat dried with a towel
1/4 cup cashews
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon oil
1 garlic clove
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt


Following these instructions exactly will provide the best results.

1. Prepare the vegan feta by mixing the miso, rice vinegar, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, nutritional yeast, and tahini in a separate bowl.  Gently pour the sauce over the crumbled tofu, mix, and marinate in the fridge for at least 8 hours.

2. Prepare the vegan ricotta, by blending the tofu, cashews, lemon juice, oil, garlic, salt, and nutritional yeast until it forms a thick paste.  Set aside.
3. When the cheeses are ready, you can now begin assembling your spanakopita!  Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees and greasing a 9x13 baking pan with oil or tahini.
4. Layer the first phyllo sheet into the tray and brush oil or tahini over the sheet.  Layer another phyllo sheet on the top of that and brush again with oil or tahini.  Repeat until you have done this for five phyllo sheets.
5. Bake the five phyllo sheets for 10 minutes in the oven.  Then, set aside.
6. In a fry pan, warm 1 tablespoon of oil.  Add the onions and saute until lightly golden brown.
7. Add the garlic, dill, mint, green onions, nutmeg, salt, pepper, and optional ground chili pepper to the fry pan.  Sautee with the onions for about 3 minutes.  Then, remove from heat and set aside.
8. In a large bowl, mix the spinach, fry pan mixture, vegan feta, and vegan ricotta until well combined.
9.   Spread the spinach mixture evenly over the pre-baked phyllo dough layers.
10. Place a phyllo sheet over the spinach mixture and brush oil or tahini over the sheet.  Then, layer another phyllo sheet on top of that and brush again with oil or tahini.  Repeat until you have done this for five phyllo sheets.
11.  Cut through the top layers of the phyllo sheets and spinach mixture, making serving size squares. Do not cut through the bottom layers of the pre-baked phyllo sheets.  This makes it easy to cut clean pieces prior to serving.
12.  Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees, and broil for one to two minutes to get a nice lightly golden brown color on top (watch the spanakopita carefully as ovens all vary)!
13.  Remove from the oven, and allow to cool for 20 minutes.  Cut through the bottom layers of the dough, following the square lines made previously.
14.  Serve and eat while warm or at room temperature.
15.  Store any leftovers in the fridge for 2-3 days, making sure to reheat in an oven prior to serving.


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