Friday, Nov. 12, 2010

Vegan Spanakopita

J.M. Hirsch, author of High Flavor, Low Labor, was raised as a vegan, and he returns to his roots every year by hosting a meat- and dairy-free Thanksgiving. His recipe for "a bountiful, beautiful centerpiece to a big communal meal" makes 12 servings.

Step 1. Make the cottage "cheese"
1 lb. extra-firm tofu, drained and mashed
3/4 cup soy mayonnaise
3 tsp. onion, finely minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground dill seed

Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Don't use a food processor or the cheese will be too smooth. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Step 2. Make the feta "cheese" 1 lb. extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into 1/4-in. cubes
2 cups water
3 tbsp. nutritional yeast flakes
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. onion, finely minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried marjoram
1/2 tsp. ground dill seed

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over a medium-high flame, then simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain the tofu and set aside in a bowl.

Step 3. Marinate the feta
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp. tahini
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. garlic, finely minced

Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl. Pour the marinade over the feta and toss to coat. Cover and chill for several hours, stirring occasionally. Once marinated, the soy feta can be refrigerated up to a week. Drain and discard the marinade before using the feta.

Step 4. Make the spanakopita
1 lb. package frozen phyllo dough, defrosted overnight in the refrigerator
3/4 lb. kale
3/4 lb. spinach leaves
2 large onions, diced
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
11/2 tsp dill seed
olive oil in a spray bottle

Heat the oven to 350°F. Remove the phyllo dough from its package and cover with a damp cloth. Remove and discard the stems from the kale and spinach. Chop the leaves fine.

In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, sauté the onion in the oil until translucent, about six minutes.

Crumble the feta into a large bowl and mix in the cottage cheese. Add the onion, salt, dill, kale and spinach, and stir to combine.

Lightly brush the bottom of a lasagna pan with oil. Place a layer of phyllo dough (two or three sheets) on the bottom of the pan, curling the excess up the sides.

Spray the phyllo lightly with oil and spread a 1/4- to 1/2-in. layer of vegetable-and-cheese filling over it. Cover the mixture with another layer of phyllo, again layering any excess dough up the sides of the pan. Spray lightly with oil and repeat until all of the filling has been used or the top of the pan is reached.

Top with a final layer of phyllo, and spray lightly with oil. Bake 45 minutes or until the top of the phyllo is lightly browned.