A Greek savoury spinach and leek pie with layers of crispy phyllo pastry. A very straightforward recipe with a vegan and non-vegan option. This is as authentic as it gets using store bought phyllo and a vegan alternative cheese. I’m still working on my homemade from scratch phyllo skills. My mom and aunts have honed their skills and make the thinnest flakiest homemade phyllo pastry dough which is absolutely the best. Mine is still a bit on the doughy side and needs some work. The next best thing is store bought, and really and truly only a machine can produce the absolute thinnest layers of flaky pastry so you cannot go wrong with store-bought. When it comes to vegan eats and phyllo - have no fear, most store bought phyllo pastry is naturally vegan made with vegetable oil and not butter or animal fat. If you are not vegan and want a traditional cheese filling option, I have it included in the recipe below.
Let’s talk about this vegan version for a second. I honestly didn’t know how my family would respond to this version as we are very much a feta loving family as most Greek families are. I may have mentioned this before but during allergy season I’m particularly careful with my dairy intake. It doesn’t fully agree with me anytime of the year but especially during allergy season. So that means no or low milk, cream yoghurt and anything dairy especially during this time. My dad is the same and his seasonal allergies are a bit more severe so I thought I would give this vegan spanakopita a try. The original recipe is from Lazy Cat Kitchen. I switched up the vegan cheese recipe to my own recipe and added leeks to mine as I love the flavour of the leeks and spinach together. My mom makes an all leek version (prasopita) of this pie which I Iove and is another option if you love leeks as much as I do. You guys are probably wondering what my family thought of this vegan version aren’t you?? Well they actually loved it. The first one was gobbled up as soon as it was out the oven. Obviously you cannot truly replicate feta in any recipe but you do get the essence of it and all the wonderful flavours of a traditional spanakopita in his version. They enjoyed every bite and were surprised there was no egg or any kind of cheese in it.
When it comes to the filling and assembly of this pie there is no need to stress. Your rolling skills do not need to be perfect and phyllo is quite forgiving if you are gently with it. The key is to spread out your filling evenly - not enthusiastically overfilling your first coil like I did and almost running out of filling for the other ones and another tip is to very delicately brush the olive oil on the phyllo - the lighter touch the better for a flakier finish. You can definitely play around with the amounts of spinach and herbs in the filling. This is a very standard amount. Feel free to add more spinach if you like it filled with more greens. One thing I always do is add extra herbs. I love a very fresh and herby spanakopita and so I add more than the recipe below calls for. Another thing that is a constant when I make my spanakopita or prasopita is using good quality Extra Virgin olive oil in it and on it. I love a robust and good quality one in my spanakopita and anything I make in the kitchen that requires olive oil whether it is baked into something or using it to finish off a dish or salad. Kalikori is one of those olive oils I’m talking about and love.
The quality of Kalikori is very evident – from the smell, the feel and of course the taste. That comes as no surprise as the olive oil comes exclusively from the village of Kalethéa in the Kalamata region of Greece. You may also notice a slight peppery finish to the oil. This comes from the first pressing of the olives and also gives it a distinct green colour. Kalikori wants to make sure that their product is of the highest quality and as a result each bottle comes with a best before date. You would be forgiven if you were tempted to take a swig of it own its own – I barely can control myself, but maybe that’s a Greek thing! I hope you enjoy this Greek pie loaded with spinach olive oil and herbs as much as I do!! Enjoy!
I have partnered up with Kalikori to bring you this fabulous recipe, but all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting Olive & Mango.
Makes approx 10-12 inch pie and can serve 6-8
For the Vegan tofu ‘cheese’
- 400 grams of firm tofu drained and divided in half
- 2 tablespoons Kalikori Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Juice of ½ small lemon
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- ½ tablespoon white miso paste
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano, or dill (optional)
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- Black pepper, to taste
For the non-vegan cheese version
- 125g feta cheese
- 100g ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- ¼ tsp each salt and pepper or to taste
- 500 g fresh or frozen spinach, rinsed well (thawed and squeezed well if frozen)
- 1 tbsp salt if using fresh spinach only
- 1 tbsp plus ½ cup of Kalikori Extra Virgin Olive Oil plus a little extra for greasing pan
- 1 leek white and light green parts cleaned well and sliced finely (alternatively one small bunch of 5-7 spring onions chopped)
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- One 454g package of vegan phyllo pastry, thawed in the fridge (most phyllo is vegan)
- Sesame seeds, to garnish (optional)
For the ‘cheese’
- In a food processor process ½ the tofu with 2 tbsp of olive oil until smooth and creamy (like ricotta) and place in a medium sized bowl and crumble the rest of the tofu into the same bowl.
- Add the rest of the ‘cheese’ ingredients to the bowl and using a fork mix well and test for extra salt and pepper.
For the spinach
- If using fresh spinach place it in a colander and sprinkle with 1 tbsp of salt and let stand for 10 minutes. This will help draw out the moisture from the spinach.
- Squeeze out all the moisture from it and place in the bowl with the cheese. If using frozen allow to thaw and then squeeze well and place in the bowl with the cheese
- Heat up 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small pan, gently sauté the leeks and garlic until softened and fragrant then remove from heat and allow to cool before adding them to the spinach/cheese mix.
- Add the fresh herbs, lemon zest, salt and pepper to the spinach and cheese mixture and mix until thoroughly combined and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350° F and grease a round tin or whatever shape baking sheet or a baking tray with a bit of olive oil.
- To assemble the pie, clear a large area of your work bench to make room for a row of 3 phyllo sheets joined together. Keep the thawed pastry sheets protected by a damp kitchen towel so that they do not dry out and become brittle.
- Place a single sheet of phyllo pastry in front of you, the longer side parallel to you. Then place two other sheets beside the middle one on either side overlapping it a little to make it one long row.
- Using a pastry brush, quickly and with light pressure grease the entire area with a bit of olive oil and then double all the pastry sheets overlapping them in the same manner and brush with olive oil. Feel free to do a third layer of phyllo if you have enough pastry. I had enough for two layers.
- Spoon ⅓ of the filling along the longer edge of the pastry leaving a 2″ border at the bottom. Do not overfill.
- Starting from the one end, gently roll the pastry into a long snake. Gently coil the snake, seam side down, and place in the greased baking tin.
- Repeat steps with the remaining pastry, using a third of the filling for each.
- Carefully place this new coil in the tin tucking its beginning onto the end of the first coil as if to connect them.
- Brush the pastry gently with some more olive oil and sprinkle with seeds for garnish if using.
- Bake for approximately 45 minutes, until golden brown. Allow the pie to rest for a few minutes after baking before cutting into it.