Spanakopita is so wonderfully versatile - I’ve taught so many versions of this recipe: big pies, small triangles, medium sized rolls, neat and messy pies. This recipe is for my favourite version of the filling in a large pie with swirled phyllo on top. Grab a copy of my ebook (Meals for Mere Mortals) for thorough guides to all the different ways this dish can come together.
Spinach is the obvious choice for greens, but silverbeet, kale, green beans, even okra work great! Many frozen phyllo (and shortcrust/puff pastry) brands use margarine instead of butter, meaning that you can make this with ingredients available at most supermarkets these days! Be sure to scroll down to see my tips on how to work with your phyllo dough to ensure the crispiest result ever. If you can't find vegan feta near you (I recommend brands that use almonds or macadamia nuts as a base), then see my tips for how to work around.
1 large onion
3 garlic cloves
2 spring onions
500g fresh or frozen spinach, kale, silverbeet, chopped green beans, leeks or a mix of any
1 large bunch fresh dill
Juice and zest of a lemon
3 level tablespoons chickpea flour
200g feta cheese (reserve brine or oil)
1 pack phyllo pastry
¾ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 225 degrees celsius. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Finely chop onion, garlic, shallots and greens. If using fresh greens, wilt them in batches in a large pot and store to the side to cool. In the same pot, add a drizzle of olive oil and fry the onions (and leeks if using) for 3 minutes. If using green beans, add them in and fry for 3 minutes. Stirring, add garlic and spring onion and cook for a few more minutes (until fragrant). Add lemon juice, zest and finely chopped dill and remove from heat.
If using spinach, kale or silverbeet: squeeze as much liquid as you can out of the wilted or defrosted greens. If you think you’re done, you’re not. Keep squeezing until it’s almost dry, any extra liquid will turn into steam and ruin the crispiness of the pastry.
Stir through chickpea flour and a dash of the brine/oil from the feta. You can process this for a few seconds in a food processor for smoothest texture, but if everything is finely chopped this isn’t necessary.
Crumble in the feta and stir to mix all ingredients well. Season with salt and pepper
Remove your phyllo from the package and either move quickly, or cover with a scarcely damp cloth. Use a pastry brush to cover the base of the lined baking tray with olive oil and fill the tray with three sheets of phyllo.
With the pastry brush, drizzle or splash a little olive oil over the pastry and spread around. Place two sheets of phyllo halfway over one side of the tray. Repeat this for each side of the pita (explain pita and pie) until you’ve used 8 sheets of phyllo.
Pour the filling over the middle of the pita, and spread until flat and smooth. Fold over each of the hanging sheets of phyllo, splattering and brushing with a little olive oil each time.
Place two more sheets of phyllo over half of the pita, sprinkling with olive oil before tucking the hanging part under the filled bottom of the pastry. Repeat for the other half of the pita.
With the remaining phyllo sheets, crumple them up loosely to create as much texture as possible. Line these up to cover the entire pita to create an upper crust. Dump the remaining olive oil over these evenly, using the pastry brush to smear over the entire surface.
Cut the pita into the portion sizes you’d like before baking. I like to use a whole crumpled phyllo sheet to cover the top of each divided portion.
Place in oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 175c. Bake for an hour on the middle rack and allow to cool for 20-30 minutes before serving.
Instead of fully brushing the pastry, splatter each phyllo sheet with butter and then spread that to avoid over-saturating your sheets. As you work, keep the phyllo sheets covered with a lightly dampened cloth so they don't dry out.
Make sure the butter is melted, but not too hot when splattering between each phyllo sheet.
If you're unable to find a vegan feta: boil 2/3 cup almonds for 15 minutes and remove skins. Process with 2 tablespoons lemon juice, a clove of garlic, 3/4 teaspoon salt and a tablespoon of water. Use this in place of the feta part of this recipe.
Check out Meals for Mere Mortals for way more tips for this recipe plus dozens upon dozens of equally delicious dishes!