Vegan Spanakopita - Filo Spinach Pie



Spanakopita is traditionally a Greek filo pastry pie filled with spinach and feta cheese. This twist on a classic adds mashed butterbeans and nutritional yeast to add a beautiful creaminess and cheesy texture.


The pie can be adapted to suit any season by mixing up the greens. In winter I would use a combination of kale, cavolo nero and rainbow chard and in summer, spring onions, spinach and lots of fresh herbs, a combination of parsley, dill and mint. The sumac and lemon adds a tangy freshness to the rich greens. The spanakopita is also great eaten cold the next day although the filo will soften and lose its crunchiness.


INGREDIENTS

Olive oil

1 leek, finely sliced

3 cloves of garlic, sliced

200g kale, roughly chopped

200g spinach leaves, roughly chopped

1 400g can of butter beans, drained

100g vegan cheese, optional

2 tbsp nutritional yeast

Small bunch of mint, picked and roughly chopped

1 lemon, zest and juice

1 tsp chilli flakes

2 tsp za’atar

2 tsp sumac

Salt, pepper


1 tbsp white sesame seeds

Filo pastry, 6-8 sheets


METHOD


1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan.

2. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a frying pan. Fry the sliced leeks with the garlic and a pinch of salt over a low heat to soften, about 6 mins.

3. Add the hardier greens, if using kale, cavolo nero or a combination of both. Fry for 3 mins or until starting to wilt then add the spinach and cook for 2 minutes until just wilted. Set aside to cool.

4. Place the butterbeans with 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp of salt in a bowl and mash using a fork or potato masher until soft. Add the cheese if using, nutritional yeast, spices and lemon. Mix all together, then add the cooked greens. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

5. Open the filo pastry, using a damp tea towel to cover the pastry sheets when not using, to stop them from drying out. Place 1 cup of olive oil in a ramekin with a pastry brush.

6. Lay out one sheet of filo and brush with oil. Lay another on top so you have two sheets together. Spoon the filling along the longest side of the filo into a cylinder shape, about 1 tbsp thick. Wrap the filo over the cylinder and roll up into a long sausage. Twist the sausage into a snail shape and crumple up the end so the filling doesn't spill out. Place the snail onto a large baking tray lined with baking paper and brush all over with oil. Repeat this process with another two sheets of filo and connect the cylinder to the end of the first snail to continue wrapping around until you have one larger snail. Continue this process until you have used up all the filling.

Don't panic if the pastry starts to crack, the rustic here works well! You can also use extra filo pastry to patch up any cracks and brush with oil.

7. Scatter the sesame seeds all over and place the tray in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until the filo is golden and crispy all over. Leave to cool for 5 minutes before slicing up and serving, with extra lemon wedges on the side.

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