Yes, that exclamation mark is necessary here, as I am that excited!! Once more that almond feta has come in to replicate one of my all time favourite vegetarian dishes - spanakopita. If I do say so myself I used to make the best spanakopita, but as it was full of feta and eggs a no-go having gone vegan. Further, like the couscous salad below, it needed the feta. This isn't just as good as my old recipe, it's better. Seriously. It does take some planning of course as you'll need a day to make the almond feta first, but it is so worth it!!
Spanakopita: serves 6
550g fresh spinach, tough stems removed
about 150g filo pastry
1 recipe almond feta - omit the drizzle oil
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
50g vegan margarine, melted
salt and pepper
First you need to wash and reduce the bulk of the spinach. As you can see 550g of spinach is a bloody lot! That's one large colander and my biggest mixing bowl full up.
Put the spinach into your (clean!) sink and wash. With the leaves wet, very generously pour salt over the leaves, don't worry as it gets washed off, this is just to break them down so really pour it on. Now rub the salt into the leaves while you tear them into small pieces, keep going until it really reduces in bulk. Rinse very well and then squeeze all the excess water off. You should end up with this much spinach:
That's just one of the above bowls barely 1/4 full. Now I like to take this mixture and give it a good chop just to get it a bit finer, in case there are still some big pieces of spinach, but it's not essential.
Now heat up the olive oil in a large frying pan and add the onion. Gently fry until soft and slightly golden, about 7 -10 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly, it's ok if it's warm.
Scrape the fried onion into the bowl with the spinach and crumble in the feta. Stir well with a fork until the feta goes all creamy and it's all mixed up well. Add about 20 grinds of fresh black pepper and I have to admit I do add about 1/8 tsp salt here. It's really not necessary as the feta is salty enough, but that's me! Your mixture should look like this:
Set aside now and prepare the pastry. Make sure the filo is defrosted and out of the fridge a couple hours before hand. In a small saucepan melt the margarine and have a brush ready. I used a 6.5" x 9" roasting tin here, but size isn't too important, bigger and you'll have a thinner spanakopita, smaller and you'll have a thicker one. Brush some melted margarine in the tin you are using and preheat the oven to 200C.
Take one sheet of filo and make sure the rest are covered with a damp cloth so they don't dry out. Brush with margarine and fit into the tin. Repeat with another sheet and place in the tin but fan it out from the first one so they don't all pile on top of one another. Keep going, brushing each sheet with margarine until you have a couple sheets left. It should now look like this:
Now spoon your filling in evenly and level it off:
Now fold over all four edges until it's covered and take the remaining sheets and loosely scrunch over top. Give it all a final brush of margarine and it's ready for the oven:
Bake in a preheated 200C oven for about 20 minutes. The top layers may brown very quickly as mine did and I was prepared to cover it with foil to ensure it didn't burn but didn't need to in the end, it cooked the full 20 minutes uncovered and didn't burn. However, all ovens are different so you may want to have some foil ready just in case. After 20 minutes it should look like this and be hot in the middle - check by sticking a knife in the centre and feeling if it's hot.
Now simply slice into 6 servings, or less if your really hungry! Serve immediately and enjoy - it's positively delicious! Despite the production in making this, I'll be making it a lot - believe me :-)
Nutritional Information: per 1/6 of pie
Sat Fat: 3.6g
Also, you are not limited to a pie here, using filo to make little hand pies is also very common with spanakopita filling and would be great for summer picnics. Easy to transport and these would still taste great cold, after cooking and cooling of course! When I first made that feta and was craving spanakopita I didn't have any filo but did have some spring roll wrappers defrosted. So I made a smaller portion of the above recipe, cut the spring roll wrappers in half and spooned in a teaspoon of filling. Simply rolled them up, brushed with some melted margarine and baked in the oven:
Voila! Mini Spanakopita rolls!!
These were just as good as the full pie and unbelievable morish - I could eat a very large plate of these. They would be perfect for parties, vegans and omni's will love them equally.
A scaled down recipe to make about 6 mini rolls:
about 1/4 onion, chopped fine
20g almond feta
salt and pepper
bit of melted margarine
3 sheets standard size spring roll wrappers
Simply follow the filling instructions as per the pie above. Slice the wrappers in half, spoon in a teaspoon of filling. Fold over end bit over filling, fold sides over and roll up. Place on a baking sheet lined with baking paper and bake in a 200C oven for 20 minutes. Perfect!
Nutritional Information: per mini roll
Sat Fat: 0.5g