Tofu Done Right: Spanakopita Edition
Wrap this Greek spinach pie however you like it.
Photos by Leah Lizarondo
Gasp! My first tofu post. I feel like I break some culinary barrier whenever I post a tofu recipe (not to mention tempeh, miso and the ilk) so I get a little nervous. Not that I have no experience with it. I grew up with it. But I’ve met quite a few individuals who haven’t or don’t eat it at all. There are some who avoid soy in general as part of their dietary practice but there are some who simply don't know how to cook it or have not come across a dish with tofu that they particularly liked.
For those who feel like they don’t know how to cook it, the “extra firm” variety is actually very easy to handle, so it’s a good place to start. You can cut it up and fry it, bread it and bake it, cube it and put it in soups, and blend it and use it in desserts. Very forgiving. This site from The Cancer Project has great and easy recipes that use tofu. I especially love the chocolate mousse (yes, I typed that right). It's always a hit when I do cooking demos (of course, I don’t tell the audience what’s in their mousse until after they have devoured their share!)
If you have not come across a tofu dish that you liked, chances are you haven’t had it done right. Or maybe you need something with familiar flavors as a gateway. And here’s the dish for that! I’d love for you to give tofu a try with this spin on spinach pie.
Spanakopita. Who doesn’t love it? It's such a great little handheld bundle of joy. This was one of the first things I made when I first started cooking. But as you know, I don’t typically eat dairy. And you or a loved one or a friend may be taking a break from dairy or just want to rotate a cholesterol-free option to your repertoire.
So here’s a great recipe from the Spork Fed cookbook that’s just perfect. I’ve made it as a pie on a plate and as little hand pies. Depending on how much time I have. I’ve also used phyllo, puff pastry or any pie dough and it has worked wonderfully each time. Although my favorite is with puff pastry and as hand pies, just as the original recipe recommends.
From Spork Fed, with a few adaptations
Yields about 10-12 pieces or one 8-inch pie
- 2 T olive oil
- 1-2 t dried oregano
- 1 14 oz. block extra firm tofu, drained and crumbled (use your hands, it’s the easiest way)
- 5 cloves roasted garlic (or 3 cloves raw, chopped)
- 1 t sea salt
- ½ t pepper
- 2 T mellow white miso
- 2 T red wine vinegar
- 2 T fresh lemon juice
- grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1 T brown rice syrup (or ½ T agave)
- 1 T fresh thyme (or 1 t dried thyme)
½ c pine nuts (optional but recommended)
- 4 cups spinach, tightly packed
- ¾ c chopped tomatoes (optional)
- 1 package frozen puff pastry, pie crust or phyllo, thawed
1. Preheat oven to 400F
2. In a large pan, gently heat the oil and add all the ingredients except the spinach and the tomatoes.
3. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally until tofu appears slightly dry and golden.
4. Add spinach to the tofu mixture in small batches and cook until wilted. Remove excess water once cooked.
5. To assemble as pie: Butter a springform pan and layer the phyllo one layer at a time, moistening each layer with a little melted butter or butter substitute (I like Earth Balance). Place filling, top with tomatoes and fold edges over.
6. To assemble as handheld pies: slice dough into 4 inch squares, add 2 T filling to the upper left corner of each square. Fold dough in half over filling, creating a triangle. Seal edges by pressing with a fork. Make two small slits on top of the spanakopita. Repeat with remaining puff pastry. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment.
7. Bake for about 20 minutes until crust is golden.