Friday, December 27, 2013

Baked Almond Feta Spanakopita

Before my vegan days I loved feta and ate it often.  Eventually, I figured out how to make a vegan Baked Almond Feta, and it is delicious. I also love phyllo dough and spinach and used to really enjoy Spanakopita.  Growing up around lots of authentic Middle Eastern food I am no stranger to foods made with phyllo and feta and enjoyed my fair share of Spanakopita over the years.

I have tried to make vegan Spanikopita using tofu as a cheese substitute. I don't know what it is, but I just cannot get into tofu posing as cheese.  I have also tried Spanakopita with a spinach filling without any sort of cheese substitute, and it just feels like it is missing something.

I don't know why it took me so long to connect the dots. Baked almond feta, the absolute closest thing to real feta and something that does not even feel like a substitute is a no brainer to use in Spanakopita!  My only regret with this dish is it took me this long to make it.

I served this as an appetizer at Christmas, and it was extremely well received by some pretty tough critics-my extended omnivore family. I enjoyed the dish immensely, and I enjoyed all the rave reviews just as much!

This dish is pretty easy to pul together though it does take some planning as the feta is a multi-day process.  And, if you have not worked with phyllo before do not be intimidated! Though delicate it is extremely forgiving and always almost looks beautiful when cooked.

If you try this I would love to know your reaction. I cannot imagine you will not love it!

Baked Almond Feta Spanakopita

1 wheel Baked Almond Feta
2 packages frozen spinach, thawed and water squeezed out
2 small onions, chopped fine
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped fine
1 package phyllo dough, thawed according to package directions
Pepper to taste
1/2 stick vegan butter, melted

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a skillet over medium heat add the oil. When heated add the onion and season with pepper. Cook until the onions begin to turn translucent and then add the spinach and dill.  Continue to cook over medium heat until heated through.

Transfer the spinach mixture to a bowl and crumble the wheel of almond feta into the mixture. Stir to incorporate and set aside.

Unroll the phyllo onto a work surface (be sure to cover the phyllo with a damp towel during the process as to ensure it does not dry out).

Brush the bottom of a baking dish (I used an 8x8) with the melted butter.  Place a sheet of phyllo on the bottom of the dish so that the ends hang over the side (note: depending on the size of your dough you may need to overlap sheets. Keep in mind you will be folding the extra over the top and it will need to be covered).   Brush the phyllo with melted butter. Repeat the process in the other direction so that you have extra hanging over all sides.  Continue to layer the phyllo and melted butter until you have about six layers in total (note: you can do more or less to taste).  Be sure to cover the phyllo with the damp towel each time you remove a sheet in order to keep it moist.

Add the spinach mixture into the dish and then fold the ends up over the top of the spinach mixture. If your ends do not overlap enough to cover the top entirely you can top with a few extra sheets of phyllo and brush it with more melted butter.

Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until the top is golden brown. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

If not serving immediately this can be stored covered in the refrigerator for a few days. Just reheat to serve.