Monday, September 23, 2013

Spanakopita Triangles

Spanakopita Triangles are a great place to start if you've never worked with phyllo. The lovely, flaky pastry dough can be a little intimidating, but really, you can do it! Find phyllo (pronounced FEE-low) frozen in most markets. In some places you can even find whole wheat or spelt varieties, but most often it's made from white flour. I prefer whole grains, but in this case I make an exception because these are such a great treat, and everyone seems to love them. I made some for a family gathering last year, and my teenage niece, who is a very picky eater said, "I don't know what's in these, and I don't want to know, but I love them." I think I blushed with pride.

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Spanakopita Triangles

1 box phyllo dough, thawed according to package directions
olive oil for cooking/brushing - optional
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 package extra firm tofu, pressed if you have time
1/4 cup tahini
2 T nutritional yeast
1 T dry basil
1 tsp dry oregano
1 tsp dry thyme
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 pound fresh spinach, chopped
2 T lemon juice
1 T tamari
salt and pepper to taste

To make the filling, sauté the onion and garlic in a little olive oil (or water) for about 3 minutes.
Crumble the tofu into the pan and cook for 3 minutes more.
Add the tahini, nutritional yeast, herbs, and pepper flakes. Stir well.
Gradually add the spinach, just wilting it into the mixture.
Add the lemon juice and tamari, and season with salt and pepper.
Remove from heat and place the filling in a bowl on your work surface.

Preheat the oven to 350º. Line a baking sheet with parchment, or a light spray of oil.
Roll the phyllo out onto the work surface, and cover it with a damp dish towel.
Gently take one sheet of phyllo from the stack, lay it out flat, and fold it in half (or thirds for smaller bites). Cover the dough with the towel until you're ready for the next piece.

Spray or brush the dough with a little olive oil if desired. (Melted vegan butter is extra decadent.)
Place a little bit of filling at the bottom end of the folded phyllo, and then fold one corner over the filling, making a little triangle.

Continue to fold in the triangle pattern the same as you would fold an American flag. When you get to the end, either tuck in any excess dough, or cut it off with a knife.
Place the finished triangles on the baking sheet, and spray or brush the tops of them. You can skip this, but they'll brown better with a little oil.

Bake at 350º for about 20 minutes. Watch them carefully. They should come out golden brown and flaky. Let them rest 5-10 minutes before eating, because they'll be really hot inside.
Serve with some Basil Cream, or your favorite cucumber sauce.

Basil Cream
1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked for 20 minutes or more, and drained
1 cup fresh basil, packed
1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted in a dry pan
1 large clove fresh garlic
2 T nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup water

Place all ingredients in your blender or food processor, and blend on high speed until very smooth.

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