Let me describe Greek and Middle Eastern pies. They are made using very thin sheets of dough, called phyllo dough, and than build by either interleaving layers of phyllo dough with a filling or by rolling/holding the filling in phyllo pockets or rolls. As you can imagine, these pies are diverse and varied, as many different ingredients can be made into an amazing pie filling. If you still have trouble picturing what one of these pies may look like just think of baklava, probably the most famous of phyllo based pies.
Some of my favorite phyllo pies are cheese pie, mushroom pie and spinach pie. This last one has been brought to the frozen sections of most grocery store chain in US and known as spanakopita.
Traditionally, spanakopita recipe uses spinach as a central ingredient and combines it with cheese, eggs and onions to create either a rolled or layered pie that is served both warm and cold, usually accompanied by a yogurt drink.
Now I offer you a vegan version of this pastry that uses almonds and nutritional yeast as a substitute for cheese and eggs. Here I used store bought phyllo dough sheets precut into triangles that I picked up in an Indian store. You can use any phyllo dough you like, or make your own.
The spanakopita rolls come together quickly and bake to a lovely, crispy appetizers that are easy to pass around. They are also a great breakfast item, a quick snack or a dinner add-on. As I mentioned, you can eat them hot or cold, but they are really the best served fresh from the oven as while their phyllo dough exterior is crunchy. They will get soft as they sit for few hours or overnight so if you plan to serve them the next day you’ll need to reheat them in a toaster oven.
(Makes 24 rolls)
What you’ll need:
24 triangle-shaped thick phyllo dough sheets (or thinner phyllo dough sheets stacked 2-3 together and cut to triangle pieces)
4 cups frozen spinach
1 cup almonds, dry roasted
1/4 cup almond milk
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Olive oil, or olive oil cooking spray
What you’ll do:
- Preheat the 400 F (200 C).
- Soak the almonds in cold water for 1-2 hours at room temperature or in the fridge overnight. Drain to remove excess water, add nutritional yeast and lemon juice, and start grinding to a fine paste, adding the almond milk slowly. You may not need the whole 1/4 cup or you may need a bit more – you be the judge because what you are looking for is a nice smooth consistency of a paste, not a sauce.
- Place frozen spinach in a large mixing bowl and purée using a hand held immersion (stick) blender. You can also purée the spinach in a food processor.
- Combine spinach with the almond paste and mix well. Add the spices and mix again.
- Lay out the piece of phyllo on a flat surface, spray with cooking spray, or drizzle a drop or two off olive oil, and spoon 2-3 tablespoons of spinach pie filling onto the long end of the pastry then roll towards the tip. Tuck the ends in and place on a baking sheet. I like to line my baking sheet with parchment paper for easy clean up, but that’s not really needed.
- Once all your rolls are ready, spray the tops with cooking spray or drizzle oil, and put in the oven for 25-30 minutes. You want the tops golden brown.
- Let the spanakopita rolls cool for 10-15 minutes and serve.
Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017