Spanakopita has always been one of my favorite appetizers. If I were to pick, my absolute favorite was at Marietta Diner located just outside of Atlanta, GA. Then, I went vegan. I am going to show you how to make both the vegetarian AND vegan versions today since I know we have about a 50/50 split in readership. This photo is the VEGAN version. Looks pretty good, right? 🙂
What is Spanakopita?
Spanakopita is a traditional Greek pastry (also widely known as “spinach pie”) made from layers of flaky, golden phyllo dough, spinach, cheeses and copious amounts of butter in between.
I’ll be showing how to make either a vegetarian OR a vegan version, depending on your personal preferences.
The first step is to saute the onions in a bit of oil, adding in the herbs.
Ricotta (or vegan alternative), parmesan (or vegan alternative), feta (or tofu) and an egg (or vegan egg equivalent such as 1 Tbl flax plus 3 Tbl water allowed to stand for 15 minutes until gelatinous) are combined.
The cheese mixture, the onion mixture and the chopped spinach are combined until well incorporated. I like to add the frozen (defrosted), drained, squeeze of excess water and chopped, to the onion mixture. Warming it helps to break up the mixture. Allow to cool completed before adding to the cheese mixture however.
To assemble our Spanakopita, we will be needing a few sticks of butter (or vegan margarine), melted. I do this in a pan over low heat, then remove from the heat to cool slightly.
Brush the bottom of your baking pan just to be sure nothing sticks.
I like to set up a station of all of my ingredients so they are ready to go when I am. I unwrap the frozen phyllo sheets that I have defrosted in the refrigerator overnight at the last minute. The layers are very thin and tend to dry out quickly.
Lay one layer of phyllo on top of the butter in the baking dish and brush with more butter. Repeat 9 more times, taking care to only use about half of your melted butter at this point.
Spread your spinach and cheese mixture over the 10th layer.
Now add a layer of phyllo and butter it. Repeat 9 more times for a total of 10 sheets, buttering every layer as you go. Tuck in the edges of the dough. I use the pastry brush to help accomplish this.
Before baking, you’ll want to take your very sharpest knife and score the top layer of phyllo into triangles (or squares if you prefer).
Bake at 350 until golden. If the tops get too brown before your notice the puffing of the layers, just loosely lay a sheet of aluminum foil over top and continue to bake.
You should have nicely separated and golden layers. It’s important to take that same knife now and score all of the way through your previous cuts before it cools. This will help make removal easier.
This is our vegetarian version…
And this is the vegan version. I decided to get creative and instead of layering those last 10 sheets, I took them and scrunched them up life ruffles on top. Drizzle with the remaining butter. Either way, they are both delicious.
If you enjoyed this recipe, why not PIN IT FOR LATER! 🙂
- 1 Tbl Vegetable or Olive Oil
- 1 medium Onion diced
- 1 small Bunch of Green Onions diced
- 1 clove Garlic minced
- 2 lbs frozen Spinach defrosted, rinsed, drained and chopped
- ½ C fresh Parsley chopped
- 2 tbsp Dill (fresh or dried, to taste) chopped plus some for garnish
- ½ C Silken Tofu blended smooth OR use 2 eggs if vegetarian
- ½ C Vegan Ricotta OR Traditional Ricotta if vegetarian
- ¼ C Vegan Parmesan Alternative OR Traditional Parmesan if vegetarian
- ½ C Extra Firm Tofu OR use Feta if vegetarian
- 20 sheets Phyllo Dough defrosted in the fridge overnight
- 1 C Melted Vegan Margarine OR Butter/Margarine if vegetarian
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly spray an 8x8 to 9x13 inch square pan with cooking spray. The 8x8 will make a thicker end product.
Defrost, rinse, drain and chop frozen spinach. Set aside.
Heat 1 Tbl of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute onion, green onions, dill and garlic until softened and just starting to turn color. Add chopped spinach and parsley. Saute until spinach is warmed, about 2 minutes or so. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, add the silken tofu (or eggs) and blend until smooth. Add the ricotta (or vegan alternative) and crumbled extra firm tofu (or feta). There is now a vegan feta on the market. I haven't been able to try it yet, but it would be a great alternative here!
Fold in spinach mixture.
Melt the margarine in a small sauce pan. There is also the option of using a butter-flavored cooking spray to reduce the calories. It works just as well here!
Layer one sheet of phyllo into the prepared pan, lightly brushing with the melted margarine. Now, repeat with 9 more sheets fanning them in the pan so they overlap. Cover the remaining 10 sheets with a damp towel so they don't dry out.
Add the spinach mixture and spread evenly.
Fold in all four corners of the phyllo. Now, with the remaining sheets of phyllo sheets, loosely scrunch them on top of the folded phyllo and brush lightly with melted margarine. Alternately, you can layer the 10 remaining sheets (buttered in between each sheet) and just neatly tuck in the edges. I like the ruffled effect, but it's completely up to preference.
Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes. If the top is browning too quickly, cover loosely with foil mid-way through the baking process. The top should be golden and the filling warm inside.
Test with a knife. Let stand for 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving.