This entree is for your vegan/vegetarian guests. The Buckingham Palace reception menu calls for spinach-filled crepes, but crepes require milk, which wouldn’t fit into our kosher meat menu. We turn, then, to spanikopita, spinach pie, which uses parve phyllo dough. The tofu, walnuts, and nutritional yeast in the filling provide hunger-satisfying protein. Since The Queen’s husband, Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, was born The Prince of Greece and Denmark, I’m sure he’d appreciate the dish’s Greek roots.
The recipe comes from Vegan with a Vengeance : Over 150 Delicious, Cheap, Animal-Free Recipes That Rock. The author is Isa Chandra Moskowitz, a Jewish vegan tsunami. I picked up my copy of the cookbook several years ago in order to get protein into my meat-averse daughters. (One of my daughters was only five years old when she first yelled, “I’m a vegetarian and you don’t understand me!”)
The instructions are a bit fiddly, so if you’re catering your own wedding, making servings for all of your guests is going to take a lot of time — time that’s especially precious in the hours leading up to your wedding. Instead, prepare one of these pies, which provides 8 servings, and reserve the servings to the side for your vegan/vegetarian guests. (If all of your guests are vegetarian, then enlist extra hands to prepare enough servings for everyone.)
Recipe: Spanikopita – Spinach Pie (Parve)
- ¼ plus 2 Tbls. olive oil, plus extra oil for brushing the phyllo
- 2 bunches fresh spinach, rinsed very well, long stems removed
- 1 bunch scallions, trimmed and finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup chopped dill
- 2 lbs. firm tofu, drained and pressed
- 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- Dash of ground or freshly grated nutmeg
- ¾ cup finely ground walnuts
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp salt
- Several dashes fresh ground black pepper
- 1 box frozen phyllo dough, thawed overnight
Instructions for Making the Spinach Filling
- In a large heavy-bottomed pot, warm 2 Tbls olive oil over medium heat for a minute, then add the scallions, spinach, scallions, garlic, and dill. Add the spinach in small batches if pot it too full.
- Satuè until completely wilted and soft and a good amount of liquid has sweated out of the greens. Remove from heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.
- In a large bowl, mash the drained tofu (use your hands for more control) to a smooth but slightly grainy consistency.
- Take the cooled spinach mixture by small handfuls and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Discard the liquid.
- Add the squeezed spinach to the tofu. Add the lemon juice, oregano, nutmeg, ground walnuts, ¼ cup of the olive oil, and the nutritional yeast. Mix well with your hands, season with salt and pepper. Taste the mixture; it should be pleasantly salty and tangy.
Instructions for Making the Pie
- Preheat oven to 325º.
- Oil a 9”x12- to 13” baking dish.
- Prepare eight sheets of dough with olive oil in the following manner: Lay one sheet of dough in the pan, brush it generously with olive oil. Lay the second sheet on top and brush it generously with olive oil. Continue until you have eight layers of dough. If the sheets of dough go up the sides of the pan, that’s OK.
Helpful Hint: Phyllo dough dries out very quickly. Keep the layers you’re not working with covered with a damp cloth or piece of plastic wrap. The first time you work with the dough it can seem like you don’t have enough hands to work and keep the layers covered, but once you get into a pattern it’s quite easy.
- Gently spread the spinach mixture on top of the dough.
- Prepare another eight layers of phyllo (or add a few more layers if you have leftover dough), put on top of spinach layer, and tuck into the sides of the pan any overhanging dough.
- Lightly score the top layer of dough into 8 rectangles of equal size (this will prevent the dough from crumbling too much when slicing after it’s baked.)
- Brush with lots of olive oil.
- Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until golden brown, being careful not to let the phyllo burn.