Spanakopita is a Greek pie/casserole, made of phyllo dough layered with a spinach and feta filling. In my vegan version, I have substituted my own nut cheese instead of the feta, and it tastes just as delicious.
A couple of words about phyllo: First of all, don’t be scared of it. Although it seems complicated, it is very forgiving. You could have a total mess in the pan but when you bake it, all will come out just fine. Secondly, traditionally, each phyllo sheet is brushed with butter or olive oil before layering the next sheet on top of it, and buttering again, and so on. You do not need to oil every single sheet. You can oil say every 2nd or 3rd sheet and when you do, you brush VERY, VERY lightly! You do not need to have it dripping with grease (although that is undoubtedly tasty!). If you’re a fan of oil spray, you can use that instead of brushing. It’s all good.
I have simplified the nut cheese recipe here significantly, so although you should start it first, you can make this all one one day in just a couple of hours total time. Just pay attention to the instructions on the phyllo you buy. Most require an overnight thaw in the fridge and then a couple of hours on the counter to come to room temp. Plan accordingly.
As for greens, I had one bunch of spinach and one bunch of kale. Again, totally flexible. You can use whatever you have and even try other vegetables to make a different sort of dish altogether.
I’m sure there is whole wheat phyllo. I did not find any when I was shopping for this and didn’t have time for a separate health food store run. Use whole wheat if you have it. If not, use regular. It will all be OK.
- 1 box phyllo dough (contains 14 sheets)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 large bunches spinach or other greens, chopped
- 1 batch Nut Feta (see below)
- olive oil for sauteing and brushing
- 2 tsp dill, fresh or dried (optional)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 1/2 cups cashews, almonds or walnuts or a mix thereof
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 cloves garlic
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- Follow instructions on the phyllo package. Most require that you thaw in the refrigerator overnight and then on the counter for a few hours prior to using.
- If you have time, soak the nuts for a couple of hours in water. If not, proceed with step 4.
- Drain water off of soaked nuts and place in food processor.
- Preheat oven to 180C and oil a small casserole dish.
- Add all remaining cheese ingredients to food processor with nuts.
- Process until smooth.
- Plop into casserole dish and bake for 40 minutes until golden and firm.
- Set aside to cool while you prepare the rest of the dish.
- Preheat oven to 180C. (350F)
- Saute onions and garlic in a little oil until soft and beginning to caramelize (5-10 minutes)
- Add greens and cook until wilted
- Add dill, salt and pepper and adjust to your taste preference.
- Open phyllo package and lay the stack of sheets on the counter.
- Cover the phyllo with a clean kitchen towel whenever you are not using them. Work quickly so they won't dry out.
- Oil a large rectangular pan, the size of your sheets. Or line it with baking paper and oil the paper.
- Lay the first 7 sheets of phyllo in your pan, lightly brushing or spraying with oil between every 2nd or 3rd layer.
- Spread the greens evenly over the sheets.
- Crumble the nut cheese on top of the greens and spread evenly.
- Cover with remaining 7 sheets of phyllo, again brushing or spraying with oil between every 2nd or 3rd sheet.
- The top sheet should be brushed with oil.
- Place in 180C oven and bake for 30 minutes or until golden and puffed.
- Cut with a very sharp, serrated knife.