This super versatile recipe draws on the traditional greek spinach and cheese pastry, but the versatility comes from the fact that it's so breezy to substitute all sorts of greens in for the classic spinach version - silverbeet, kale, green beans, even okra! I love baking this dish especially as you can fit such a huge volume of pure greens into each serve once it has all wilted down for the filling. My favourite combination is spinach and green beans, but the tanginess of the feta and the buttery crispness of the phyllo means you can pop in whatever you like and it'll still come out of the oven tasting brilliant.
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 almond meal processed with lemon juice, olive oil and a dash of apple cider vinegar will do the trick.
- 1 large onion
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 spring onions
- 500-750g fresh spinach, chopped (optional substitutes: silverbeet, a mix of kale and spinach or switch 200g of the spinach with green beans)
- 1 bunch fresh dill
- Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
- 2-3 level tablespoons chickpea flour
- 150-200g vegan feta cheese (reserve brine)
- Salt and pepper
- Olive Oil
- 10 sheets frozen phyllo dough (defrosted as per package instructions)
- 6+ tablespoons of vegan butter
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius. Coat large baking pan in butter and set aside.
- Finely chop onion, garlic, shallots and spinach/green beans. In a large pot, fry the onion for 2 minutes in a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. If using, add green beans and fry for about 3 more minutes. Give the contents a good stir, before adding the garlic and spring onion, and then on top all of the spinach and another tablespoon of olive oil. Stir occasionally until all spinach has wilted and squeeze over the lemon juice before removing from heat.
- Chop the feta into small cubes or chunks and chop the dill, reserving a pinch of chopped dill to use as a garnish. Add both ingredients to the spinach mixture, as well as the chickpea flour and a dash of the feta brine before mixing thoroughly. Give this mixture a quick blend for best texture, but this isn't totally necessary.
- To prepare the pastry, melt the remaining butter. Lay your first phyllo sheet in the pan and splatter with butter, before repeating so that you have 6 sheets as the base for the spanakopita. Over this base, pour the spinach mixture and evenly spread.
- In a similar fashion to the phyllo buttering and layering process for the base, add four more sheets of phyllo to the top of the filling, sprinkling and spreading the butter between each sheet. Place in oven for 40 minutes, sprinkling extra parmesan on the top for the last 5 minutes of baking. To serve, allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before sprinkling the remaining chopped dill on top and slicing.
- 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.
TO MAKE SPANAKOPITA PARCELS
Use an entire pack (18 sheets) of phyllo pastry and double the recipe for the spanakopita filling. Lay out each phyllo sheet and cover in butter. Fold in half lengthwise and cover in butter again. Heap the filling onto one side of the pastry, folding it over and pressing in the sides to make a parcel. Roll the wrapped filling until you achieve something like a sausage roll (using up a whole phyllo sheet per parcel). Brush once more with butter and bake for 20 minutes at 200 degrees celsius.