May 27, 2012

vegan spanikopita, vgourmet, Ruth Richardson

I recently read that spanikopita is “in the  burek family of pastries.” What does that mean you might reasonably ask? Burek is a family of baked or fried filled pastries made of a thin flaky dough known as phyllo “most probably invented in what is now Modern Turkey, in the Anatolian Provinces of the Ottoman Empire in its early era, to become a popular element of Ottoman cuisine.” Equally interesting is that there is a traditional vegan version eaten during the Great Lent and other religious fasts. But why deprive yourself of its earthy goodness the rest of the year? Lent. Summer Solstice. May 2-4 weekend. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. National Hug a Drummer Day. It’s all good and it’s a fun Friday night dinner to make with the kids so they can get their hands dirty and help out with the layering and folding … fast or no fast.

vegan spanikopita, vgourmet, Ruth Richardson

For the herbed tofu:

1 16-oz package extra firm tofu, cubed

2 cups water

1/4 cup lemon juice

3 tsps salt

2 tsps dried basil

2 tsps dried oregano

In a large saucepan over low heat, combine the tofu cubes, water, lemon juice, salt, basil, and oregano. Simmer for 30 minutes and then set aside to cool. Refrigerate overnight in the brine and then drain.

vegan spanikopita, spinach pie, vgourmet, ruth richardson

For the spanikopita:

2 tbsps olive oil

3 medium shallots, chopped

8 cups fresh spinach

1 1/2 cups drained herbed tofu, slightly mashed

1/3 cup fresh dill, chopped

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

sea salt and pepper

1/2 cup olive oil

10 sheets phyllo pastry

Heat olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add shallots and saute until tender. Add spinach and cook until spinach wilts. Set aside to cool and then drain, squeezing out as much liquid as possible.

In a large bowl, mix together cooked spinach and shallots, herbed tofu, dill, and parsley. Add sea salt and pepper to taste. Set aside and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lay out one sheet of phyllo. Keep the rest covered with a slightly damp tea towel so they don’t dry out. Brush the one sheet with olive oil using a pastry, or basting, brush. Add the next sheet and brush it with olive oil. Repeat until you’ve got 5 layers of phyllo. Cut the phyllo into 3 equal strips, about 3 inches wide. Place some of the spinach mixture in a triangular shape in the bottom corner of one of the strips. Carefully fold the phyllo along with the spinach mixture diagonally along the inside edge.  Keep folding along the strip until you reach the end. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Repeat until all the phyllo and spinach mixture has been used.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 – 35 minutes until the spanikopita is browned and crisp on top. Serve with a fresh green salad, and a glass of crisp, cool Greek wine like the 2007 Gerovassiliou Malagousia.