One of my earliest cooking memories is holding open my mom’s old copy of The Vegetarian Epicure so she could read the recipe. When I got my first place after college, she gave me my own copy of the “Veggie Epi,” which will forever be as indispensable as my copy of The Joy of Cooking. With an upbringing like that, it should have surprised absolutely no one when I gave up meat, and later when Meghan and I decided to become vegan; eating and preparing plant-based meals has never felt odd or unfulfilling to me, thanks in large part to my mother. Thanks, Mom!
So, if you’ve never heard of spanakopita, first off, I’m so sorry... You have been dealt a bad hand in life, having never enjoyed this legendary spinach pie. Secondly, get ready to make this regularly for the foreseeable future - at least, that’s our plan, now that we have a dairy-free recipe. It’s also great to take to gatherings as finger food - just make sure you have a sharp serrated knife to cut through the fragile phyllo crust.
1 lb. fresh spinach (2 8oz. bags)
½ C. onion (1 medium onion, diced)
1 package phyllo dough
2 T. olive oil
6 T. (¾ stick) dairy-free butter
1½ C. cashew cream sauce (recipe here)
1½ C. tofu feta (recipe here)
2 T. nutritional yeast
Salt and pepper to taste
Prep time: 30-40 min.
Cook time: 1 hr.
Yield: one 9x13” casserole dish, ~18 2” squares or 10-12 servings
Wash and pat or drip dry your spinach, then put in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle generously with salt. Use your judgment, but I use almost a tablespoon normally - the salt helps to wilt the spinach while you prep the rest of the ingredients. Using both hands, tear leaves into chunks, discarding any long or thick stems. Its mass will visually decrease by at least half. Next, dice and saute the onion on medium-high in a pan with the olive oil. Let brown very slightly before taking off of the heat. Pour into the spinach bowl and add the mock feta, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper and cashew cream sauce. Mix and set aside.
Now, the crust. This is the time-consuming part of spanakopita. Take your casserole dish and lay a sheet of phyllo inside horizontally.
(NOTE: We used an 8x8” dish this time around, which led to a taller, thicker end result.)
Drip or spread the melted butter lightly across the phyllo using your fingers or a cooking brush (which we lost to a hungry little mouse in our previous home). Repeat with the next sheet of phyllo, laid vertically, then buttered. Continue switching between horizontal and vertical until you have 3-4 sheets left.
This is the home stretch. Pour the spinach filling into the dish and cover with a sheet of phyllo, butter as usual and repeat with the remaining phyllo. Fold the exposed edges over and drizzle any remaining butter on top.
Bake at 350 for ~1 hr. or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool for 10 min. before cutting (and promptly devouring).
We can't resist its flaky, buttery, spinachy charms!