Vegan Greek Spinach Pastry

While traditional Greek spanakopita has feta, eggs, and butter, this vegan spanakopita-inspired recipe uses silken tofu, quinoa, and a bit of vegan shredded cheese.  Kalamata olives and fresh herbs add complexity.  While you can use dried herbs for this recipe, I love what the fresh herbs bring to this recipe.  

Fresh marjoram is like a sweeter, woodsier oregano. The Greeks thought of it as a symbol of happiness. And when it’s baking in my oven, I think of it the same way. The smells of fresh herbs and buttery vegan pastry are intoxicating!

I also really love vegan puff pastry. You can either use a frozen brand, like Pepperidge Farm Frozen Puff Pastry, or make your own from scratch.  I used two 17.3 ounce packages of Pepperidge Farm Frozen Puff Pastry, because I needed 3 sheets.  I cut one of the sheets in half.  I used 1 sheet + ½ sheet to cover the bottom of the pan, and 1 sheet + ½ sheet to cover the the filling and the top of the pan.  If you choose to make your own, just make sure to make enough for 2 crusts that will cover an 8″ X 11″ pan.

This recipe isn’t meant to be exactly like traditional spanakopita. For starters, it doesn’t look like it, and since when is tofu a star of classic spanakopita? Since never! But it does use some of the elements of the cherished pastry to create an inspired, hearty and delicious vegan meal.

Vegan Greek Spinach Pastry

3 sheets of frozen puff pastry, thawed according to directions (OR 2 puff pastry crusts large enough to cover an 8″ X 11″ pan) (see note above)

⅓ cup quinoa

⅔ cup water

12.3 ounce package of silken firm tofu, drained

¼ cup nutritional yeast

1 cup vegan shredded cheese (I used Daiya Shreds Mozzarella Style)

1 tsp fresh lemon zest

1-2 Tbsp lemon juice

½ tsp garlic powder

1 ½-2 tsp fresh marjoram (OR 1 tsp dried marjoram)

1 medium onion, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves (OR 1 tsp dried thyme)

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 10 ounce packages of frozen spinach, thawed and water squeezed out

½ cup whole kalamata olives

Black pepper, to taste

1. Rinse quinoa off to remove any bitterness. Then, in a small saucepan, add quinoa and water.  Bring to a boil over high heat, and then, turn down to low, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat, drain any excess water, fluff with a fork, and set aside.

2. In a food processor or blender, add silken tofu, nutritional yeast, vegan shredded cheese, fresh lemon zest, lemon juice, and garlic powder.  Blend until completely smooth.  Add fresh marjoram, and blend until well integrated but still distinguishable.  Set aside.

3. Preheat the oven to 400 F.  Grease an 8″ X 11″ pan.  Line the pan with 1 ½ sheets of puff pastry. Set aside.

4. In a large skillet, add onions, garlic, fresh thyme, and olive oil.  Sauté over medium-low heat until onions are golden. Add frozen spinach, cooked quinoa, and the tofu mixture from the food processor.  Stir until well incorporated.  Stir in kalamata olives.  

5. Layer the filling over the puff pastry.  Spread until evenly distributed.

6. Layer the top crust (or 1 ½ sheets of thawed frozen puff pastry) over the top of the filling.  Fold the edges under, and lightly press the pastry down around the edges.  Prick the top with a fork.  Bake at 400 F for 30-35 minutes.  Slice into squares to serve.

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