Easy Spanakopita Rolls

 

Easy Spanakopita
Easy Spanakopita Rolls, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
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.

 

Spanakopita Rolls

(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:

  1. Preheat the 400 F (200 C).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Combine spinach with the almond paste and mix well. Add the spices and mix again.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Let the spanakopita rolls cool for 10-15 minutes and serve.

 

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Vegan Zucchini Moussaka

zucchinimousaka_done
Vegan Zucchini Moussaka, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Growing up moussaka was probably one of my least favorite dishes. Somehow, layers of potato and ground meat, cooked in rich Béchamel-type of sauce just did not work for me. The version that used zucchini instead of potatoes worked a little bit better, especially when paired up with plain yogurt, but even then the dish was too bland yet to heavy for me.

I decided to give the moussaka of my youth a vegan make-over and I’m happy to report that veganizing this traditional recipe worked! I used rainbow carrots, yellow onion, celery, vegan ground “beef”, all the zucchini ends that are not quite right shape or size to make good layers, and a generous amount of tomato paste for my stuffing.

zucchini-mousaka-ingredients
Zucchini Moussaka ingredients, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
For Béchamel sauce, which usually uses flour, butter and milk, I used almond milk, nutritional yeast and corn starch to make the sauce vegan and gluten free. My moussaka starts with a well oiled deep baking dish, a layer of zucchini slices, stuffing, another layer of zucchini slices and finishes with the vegan Béchamel sauce.

zucchini-mousaka-step-2
Zucchini Moussaka with Vegan Béchamel sauce, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
The assembled moussaka goes into the oven to cook covered for 30 minutes and uncovered for another 15 minutes. The vegan Béchamel sauce gives this dish great thickness and richness, without making the moussaka heavy. Your taste buds and your tummy will thank you for taking it lightly!

Vegan Zucchini Moussaka

What you’ll need:

4 zucchinis

4 rainbow carrots, diced

6 stalks celery, diced

1 yellow onion, diced

1 cup of vegan ground “beef”, store bought or homemade

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

2 cups unsweetened, plain almond milk

3 tablespoons corn starch

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

Cooking spray

What you’ll do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C).
  2. Spray the bottom and sides of your 13 x 9 in (33 x 23 cm) baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
  3. Wash and slice zucchini lengthwise to make 16 to 18 slices that are about 1/4 in (6 mm) thickness. Don’t throw out the left over and edge pieces – dice them to medium size dice and put them in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Add diced onions, carrots and celery to the mixing bowl, as well as vegan ground “beef”, tomato paste, and smoked paprika. Mix well.
  5. Line the bottom of the baking dish with zucchini slices. Pour the filling into the dish. Top with another layer of zucchini slices.
  6. Separately, mix the almond milk, corn starch and nutritional yeast together. Make sure the mix is smooth and lump free. Pour over the moussaka.
  7. Cover the moussaka with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for additional 15 – 20 minutes, until the top is nicely browned.
  8. Take out the oven and let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017