For fellow UK-dwellers, happy bank holiday weekend! Judging by how busy it was out yesterday and how unusually empty of cars our street is, lots of people have gone away for the weekend. We’ve decided to beat the crowds and we aren’t hitting the road until after the weekend. We’ve planned a small break on the Pembrokeshire coast during the week so we are both checking the weather forecast like hawks.
As long weekends are conducive to family gatherings, especially after the year we have had, I thought that a tray of a Greek-inspired (I miss Greece!) crowd pleaser that’s easy to make would make a good recipe today. As you probably know, I am no stranger to Greek cuisine on account of having lived there for four years and so I have made a spanakopita recipe before and while I still stand by that recipe, it is a little more time consuming to make due to its coiled shape and my almond feta cheese, which while delicious, it is a little more involved. It is time, I thought, for a simpler recipe that anyone can pull off without feeling intimidated.
The most time consuming bit about any, not just vegan, spanakopita recipe is the spinach prep. It needs to be precooked and then all of the moisture needs to be squeezed out of it as otherwise all that moisture will steam up in your pie during baking, making it soggy. It doesn’t take that long though, especially if you can task someone with strong hands to do all the squeezing for you while you prep the rest. I mean, I am fairly sure you won’t be eating this amount of pie alone, so you should not have to be making it alone either. You can employ an old kitchen towel to squeeze the moisture out, but the least messy way is to simply squeeze the spinach out by the handful and go over it all at least twice.
Other than the spinach prep, layering the pastry in the tin is a breeze. You simply need to be gentle with it, but it is absolutely fine if there are any tears (use these sheets in the middle of the pie) and the pastry layers do not have to sit perfectly flat against each other – in fact, some unevenness and creases encourage air pockets forming between layers and leads to a flakier end result, so a little messiness is a good thing.
The creamy element of spanakopita is usually made of a combination of a few different cheeses and sometimes yoghurt or cream cheese is added for extra creaminess. I aimed to match the consistency and flavour profile of that element by making a creamy cheese-like component with soaked cashews (flaked almonds, sunflower seeds or tofu would work also!) flavoured with lemon, salt, garlic and nutritional yeast. It comes together in seconds in a food processor or blender and gets directly added to the spinach and sautéed aromatics.
Another hallmark of a good spanakopita is building an impressive stack of layers on top of the filling, so even though it may be tempting, do not scrimp on the amount of pastry or oil. I used up nearly two packets of it in an effort to get that crispy golden canopy of pastry and it turned out beautifully. I hope you’ll make it and enjoy the end product as much as we have.
PS: If you make my easy vegan spanakopita, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram as @lazycatkitchen and use the #lazycatkitchen hashtag. I love seeing your takes on my recipes!
I find that shop bought phyllo / filo can be a little bland so sprinkling a little salt between sheets while brushing with oil is a good idea.
This is the baking tray I used, it has the following dimensions: 9″ x 13″ / 22 x 33 cm.