I've done the vegan, tofu-mash Spanikopita countless times, and enjoyed each permutation (with capers and roasted garlic rather than dill/mint/parsley, sundried tomatoes and smoked eggplant in addition, just the regs, you name it). Very light, soft, juicy. Not too shabby.
But methinks I've ruined that recipe for myself. Because veeg spanikopita is sooooo much better with cashew cheese.
There's a richness in this recipe that satisfies in a way that tofu cannot - it's heavy, decadent, creamy. If it's been a while since you've had Feta in your 'Opita, you'll love this. If it hasn't, you'll love it too - and be surprised at how parallel the flavors and textures are.
Now that I've made this a couple of times, in a couple of formats, my so-far-fav is the purse. In a casserole, the bottom layers of phyllo get a tad tough - making it a little annoying to cut and serve. This could be the lack of heated butterfat soaking through - hmmm.
Pursifying the spinach/herb/cheese mix makes for gorgeous presentation and gives your peeps options - filling alone, filling with pastry, or both, with a smidge of sauce. I love this sauce with "classic" 'Opita. It's a sweet, aromatic stew, and off-sets the tang of the cheese nicely.
One more tip - when constructing your purses, let your unwrapped dough sit out under two moistened paper towels for 10 minutes or so before beginning. The dough needs to be pretty soft to scrunch into a purse closure without breaking. The top sheet closest to the paper towels might get a tad soggy - toss it, if so.
Classic Spanikopita with Cashew Cheese
makes 8-10 purses, 2 purses a serving
1/2 package thawed phyllo pastry
1.5 cups cashew cheese (the same mixture used in this recipe)
1 large back baby spinach
6 cloves garlic, minced
4 scallions, green parts only, minced
Additional lemon juice, a squeeze or two (optional)
2 tablespoons each - fresh parsley and dill, minced, plus 1 tsp freshly minced mint
Lots of freshly ground black pepper
8-10 chive shoots, the longest/sturdiest of the bunch
You'll need a large cutting board and a pastry brush.
First, blanch your spinach and rinse with cold water. Squeeze thoroughly and chop fine, scrape into a large bowl. Add all of the other ingredients sans pastry and toss well. Add a little olive oil and lemon juice until the texture is that of thick ricotta - you want some moisture, but not too much.
Preheat oven to 350f.
Lay out one sheet of phyllo on a large cutting board and brush generously with olive oil. Lay another sheet on top. Brush again with olive oil. Lay one more sheet on top.
Use a plate that will fit twice on each pastry sheet and cut it's diameter twice with a sharp knife, discarding scraps. Pile 2-3 tablespoons of filling in the center of the phyllo circle, gently lift the flat pastry into your palm, and using your hand as a mold, scrunch the phyllo into a purse shaped package, twisting the top gently to get it to close.
Place on an oiled baking sheet. Repeat until you've used up your filling and bake pastries for 15 minutes or so, until they're golden brown.
That supercute flower above is actually a chive flower, awesome right? I NEVER let my chives go long enough to flower so this sneaky little bud was a rad surprise. Anyway - grab a chive and carefully tie it in a loose knot around your purses' neck. Serve on top of a ladle of sauce.
Classy, spring-timey, and most importantly - DEELISH.