This is Sparta! Spinach Pie
Makes one 9 x 14 pie
My first attempts at the forever popular Greek spinach pie can be found in the pages of Isa Moskowitz’s classic Vegan with a Vengence. That recipe still rocks, but since then I’ve been won over by the versatility of soaked blended cashews to help produce a creamy mouthfeel for the perfect vegan “cheese” experience.
This style of spinach pie is the easiest method of assembly, where the filling is layered between two layered sheets of phyllo dough for simple slicing. A more intense but rewarding pie can be made by folding individual servings into triangles, yiedling more crunchy phyllo goodness. If you’re interested in a third shape consult Vegan with a Vengance for the “snail” shape often seen in bakery windows in Athens.
This filling is equally at home made with chard, so abundant in farm shares throughout the growing season. Just be sure to mince the crunchy stems and finely as possible.
This style of spinach pie–two layers of dough sandwiching the filling in a lasagna pan– is the easiest method of assembly. Serve with a crisp tomato, cucumber and crunchy lettuce salad dressed with abundant lemon and olive oil for fresh yet filling entree.
1 pound soft tofu (not silken), drained and lightly pressed
1 cup whole unroasted cashews, soaked in hot water until soft and drained
4 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 teaspoons sea salt
4 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons light-colored miso
2 pounds fresh spinach
1 cup roughly chopped fresh dill
6 scallions, root ends trimmed and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 package frozen filo dough, completely thawed and handled according to package directions
1/4 cup non hydrogenated vegan butter (such as Earth Balance), melted
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1. With your fingers crumble the tofu into a mixing bowl. In a food processor pulse together drained cashews, garlic, nutritional yeast, sea salt, lemon juice, half of the olive oil and miso; blend until a thick paste forms, scraping down the sides of the food processor frequently with a rubber spatula. Scrape cashew mixture into the bowl with the tofu and set aside.
2. Wash and dry spinach. Stack a few leaves, roll them into a tight cigar and chop the leaves and stems as finely as possible. In a large deep skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat and add spinach. Stir frequently and cook chard until wilted and darker in color, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool enough to handle.
3. Grab a handful of cooked chard and with both hand firmly squeeze to remove as much liquid as possible; you may want to do this over another mixing bowl or the sink. Add squeezed spinach to tofu. Repeat with remaining spinach and discard any leftover cooking liquid. Add dill, scallions and black pepper and mix the chard, tofu and cashew mixture thoroughly. Taste the mixture. Add more lemon juice or salt as desired for a tangier/saltier flavor.
4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 x 2 inch metal baking pan with cooking spray. Set up filo dough for working as directed on the package. I usually layer it between slightly damp, clean kitchen towels, work as fast as possible and always cover the filo after removing a sheet. In a small bowl stir together melted vegan butter and olive oil and have handy a pastry brush. Fit a sheet of filo into the bottom of the pan and gently brush with oil mixture. Repeat layering/brushing until half of the filo has been used. Evenly press the tofu chard filling over the filo, making sure to press it into the edges of the pan and fold the hanging edges of the dough over the filling. Now take a sheet of filo and layer half of it over the filling, brush with the oil mixture and fold the remaining half over the dough, taking care to press the edges into the filling. Repeat with the brushing, folding and pressing with the rest of the filo. Brush top with any remaining oil and bake for 35-40 minutes, until the top of the pie is a rich golden brown and the top looks tasty and flaky. Let cool for 10 minutes and slice with a thin, sharp knife. We even think this pie tastes best served room temperature the next day!
Variation: Substitute 2 pounds of chard for spinach. Chop both the stems and leaves as fine as possible into pieces no thicker than 1/4 inch.