Week of Greek: Spinach Pie (Spanakopita)

For our third course today, we’re making a classic Greek dish I bet nearly all of you have heard of and probably tried. Although I’m more accustomed to the Syrian spinach pie – a triangle-shaped soft bread filled with spinach and onions, seasoned with plenty of salt and lemon juice – I’m sure I had spanakopita at least a few times before going vegan. And I was happily surprised when I flipped through my cookbook and saw a recipe that doesn’t even mention feta! Of course you would traditionally brush the phyllo dough with butter, but I veganized that part easily enough.

2015-7-15 Spinach Pie Spanakopita
You can make your own phyllo dough from scratch, but I found mine at the Mediterranean market. They had three different kinds, and each of them were vegan! You may even be able to find it ready-made at your local grocery store.

2015-7-15 Spinach Pie Spanakopita2
Now, this very basic recipe doesn’t make much, and that’s a shame because when you taste the flaky phyllo together with the spinach and dill you are going to want more, more, more.

2015-7-15 Spinach Pie Spanakopita3
So when we get to the end here, we’ll talk about bulking it up.

Spanakopita (Spinach Pie)
1 lb spinach*
6 green/spring onions, finely chopped
1/2 teacup dill, finely chopped
1 1/2 teacup olive oil*
salt & pepper
1 pkg phyllo dough

Note: A teacup equals approximately 1 C, but you’ll have so much fun using a teacup instead of a regular measuring cup!
Preheat oven to 350. Oil a 9×9″ pan.
Clean spinach and drain well (or buy triple washed spinach that’s ready for use).
Saute green onions in the oil over medium heat until tender. Shred spinach and add to onions, season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook spinach over medium heat for approximately 15 minutes, or until the liquid has cooked out of the pan. Stir in the dill. Remove from heat.

Line the oiled pan with one pastry sheet. Brush it with olive oil (or margarine, or refined coconut oil) and add another layer, repeating until you’ve done five layers total. Spread the spinach mixture over the layers of phyllo dough.
Now top spinach with another pastry sheet, brush with oil, and repeat until you’ve done five layers.
Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown. Cut into squares or triangles. Can be served hot or cold, cold is my preference.

*Now about bulking it up. One pound of spinach really cooks down and leaves you with just a thin layer. At the same time, there seemed to be too much oil – I drained it because I didn’t want to wait forever for it to cook out while meanwhile my spinach shrank and shrank (I used that excess oil to brush my pastry dough).

I recommend cooking two pounds of spinach in 1/2 cup of oil, and adding more as needed. You could also double the amount of green onions while you’re at it.
Cheese is really not necessary, but if you miss it, find a vegan feta or ricotta to mix in after you’ve finished cooking the spinach and onions. You can also make your own using this Vegan Feta Cheese recipe from 2 Broke Vegans!

20 thoughts on “Week of Greek: Spinach Pie (Spanakopita)

  1. OH my gosh Mumra, you are so right!!
    Hey Katherine, we make this a lot during Great Lent (potlucks) – so easy and we bulk it up with extra firm tofu – delish!! I was thinking about using left over brown rice too to make it even more of a meal…what do you think? I don’t think it would get too dry because the spinach has a lot of moister. My priest’s wife makes a pan and then cuts it on the diagonal like you do. I usually do a pocket. I think I prefer it the way you lay it out. The pockets are more work LOL…the lazy vegan lol

    • I’ve never seen it with rice, but why not? It’s cheap (LENTEN! haha), filling, and doesn’t have much flavor so it won’t take away from anything – only make it more filling. You have to be creative when you’re on a budget!

  2. I’m a little bit scared to prepare spanakopita, because it seems so fragile. And I’m not very good at baking. When I talked about it with a professional chef in one of our vegan/vegetarian restaurants in the city, he told me he experienced great difficulty in preparing it for a couple of times. I don’t know. But it is definitely worth a try.

    • For this small batch it was so easy, I think it’s when you get into big batches you have to be careful not to let the phyllo dry out. In that case, in my family we place a damp towel over the dough to keep it moist.

  3. Pingback: Week of Greek: Menu for a Greek Vegan Feast! | Oh, she cooks!

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