My adventures in altering recipes came to an exciting point last weekend, when I finally attempted to make Vegan Spanakopita. I made the authentic version once, and didn’t like it – too much egg and salty cheese for my taste. After months of looking online for recipes, I decided to alter the recipe I had used before to make an almost-vegan version. I substituted the butter and cheese for non-dairy replacements: Benecol Light spread and Silken Tofu. I also halved the recipe, and instead of eggs, I used 1 full egg plus 2 egg whites. And to make it more exciting, instead of making triangle strudels – requiring lots of phyllo dough (24 sheets for the full recipe!), I used four ramekins, and just 4 stacked sheets of phyllo. The result was pretty great. I think using the Barefoot Contessa’s Dinner Spanakopita recipe as a base really helped in keeping the overall flavor authentic. Most of all, Scott and I LOVED it. It was the perfect dinner, paired with a nice salad. While this is not a Vegan version, it is definitely one step closer – and with it being non-dairy and delicious – I am still celebrating my success!
Some notes on my alterations
- I halved the recipe for the most part – exceptions are below. Although this would translate into 6 servings, I made it into four – to increase the spinach filling to phyllo dough ratio.
- I used 1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. olive oil, and easily could have used less.
- The full recipe calls for 3 scallions, I used a little less than 2.
- For the tofu, I used both Extra Firm Silken and Silken (regular soft kind) – while neither melted – I like the consistency of the Silken (soft) kind better. The Extra Firm keeps its shape more and would need to be cut small to not overpower the mixture with blandness. I also estimated the amount to use by dividing the ounces per package, into about 6 ounces worth of tofu.
- For butter, I melted 2 tbsp. of the Benecol Light Spread, in a saucepan over medium heat. It took about 5-10 minutes. I had some leftover, but would still repeat this amount the next time. I am curious how PAM would work for this instead.
- For the eggs, I’m glad I used 1 egg plus 2 egg whites. The egg whites definitely account for a looser filling, but the result was better than with full eggs. The yolk definitely binds, so I wouldn’t make with just egg whites.
- Because Feta and Parmesan are salty cheeses and I replaced them with tofu, I used the full 2 tsp. of kosher salt.
- For the Phyllo dough, I stacked four sheets, as indicated in the recipe. To make it spread to four servings, I cut the sheet into8 squares. Each ramekin was sprayed ahead of time with PAM. I put one square on the bottom of each ramekin – followed with 1/3 cup of the filling – followed by the 2nd square on top, pushing the dough down on the sides. I brushed a little “butter” on top and sprinkled with a touch of sea salt. I cooked it for about 25 minutes, and cooled for another 5. To remove, I took a knife around the edges and carefully flipped it over onto a plate. With a fork and knife, I flipped it back over, so that the flat side is down. I served it at this point.
p.s. I’m not Vegan, but enjoy most things better non-dairy.