Vegan Spanakopita and Raspberry Chocolate Walnut Phyllo Pies

After having one of the spinach phyllo pies from the Cinnamon Snail, I was inspired to try making a vegan version of spanakopita. I’d never worked with phyllo dough before so it was a learning experience. The filling made enough for one large pan plus a smaller pan. I made a large pan first and the smaller pan the next day so that I could learn from any mistakes in my first attempt.

I did learn a few things, such as not to skimp on vegan butter or olive oil between the layers of phyllo. For my first attempt, I tried to go really light on the olive oil in an effort to make it healthier. I sprayed it on and didn’t get the layer very even. Unfortunately the oil seems to be what holds the phyllo dough together, so it turned out very, very flaky. It was still tasty though.

On the second attempt, I used vegan butter. I put more between the layers and made sure there was an even coat across the phyllo. This seemed to work a lot better. The phyllo held together more and turned out how I expected it to. Looks like this is one dish I’ll have to accept isn’t so healthy, but is very yummy! I’m including photos of both, so you can see the difference in how they turned out. The first attempt that turned out flaky is actually more photogenic than the second, but the texture on the second is much better.

I had a little leftover phyllo, so I decided to try experimenting with a dessert pastry just to see how it turned out. I didn’t even measure, but mixed together some raspberry jam, chopped walnuts, vanilla, cinnamon, a dash of ginger, a dash of nutmeg, and some chocolate chunks. I layered the phyllo with butter the same way I did for the spanakopita and spread the filling in the middle. It was a tasty way to use up the leftover phyllo!

Ingredients:

1 pound pack of vegan phyllo dough (I used Fillo Factory)
20 oz. frozen spinach (thawed)
1 onion
1 shallot
3 green onion stalks
4 cloves of garlic
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill leaves
olive oil or vegan butter
1/2 lb of firm tofu (about 1/2 a block)
salt and pepper
paprika
nutmeg
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast

Directions:

  • Follow the directions on the phyllo dough package for thawing. The kind I used was frozen. (The Fillo Factory has some tips and recipes.) I moved it from the freezer to the fridge overnight and then took it out 2 hours before using it so it could warm to room temperature. Once it’s out of the packaging, you need to keep a damp towel or paper towel on top to keep it from drying out. Leave your spinach in the fridge to thaw overnight.
  • Chop the onion, shallot, green onion, and the parsley and dill leaves. Press or finely mince the garlic. Saute all of the these in olive oil or vegan butter for a few minutes over medium high heat.
  • Drain and crumble the tofu. Thoroughly drain the spinach. Add the spinach and tofu to the pan and continue sauteing for a few more minutes. Add a dash of paprika and nutmeg and the nutritional yeast. Add salt and pepper to taste and mix well.
  • Preheat your oven to 350° F.
  • Lightly grease the bottom of a baking dish. Cut the phyllo in half (or whatever size will fit your baking dish). Layer the phyllo dough one sheet at a time. In between each sheet, use a pastry brush to coat the dough with olive oil or vegan butter. It should be a thin, but even coating. Continue layering phyllo and melted vegan butter until you’ve layered 10 sheets of dough.
  • Spread your spinach filling on top of the phyllo dough in an even layer.
  • Layer 10 more sheets of phyllo dough on top of the spinach, spreading melted vegan butter in between each layer. Put a light coating of melted vegan butter on top of the last layer and sprinkle paprika on top.
  • Bake the spanakopita for about 20-25 minutes until golden brown on top. Let it cool a few minutes, slice it into squares, and enjoy!

The Cinnamon Snail – Organic Vegan Food Truck

I don’t know how I’ve passed through Hoboken on my way to work every day for nearly seven months and haven’t discovered The Cinnamon Snail until now. The Cinnamon Snail describes itself as an organic vegan mobile food truck. I really think they should add gourmet to this list. This isn’t your typical food truck. This is some of the best vegan food I’ve ever had.

The first time I stopped by, I only had $6 on me. They only take cash, so I had the difficult task of picking only $6 worth of their tempting menu selections. I decided to try a Chocolate Raspberry Ganache donut and a Pumpkin Pie Donut. They were both tasty. The Pumpkin Pie Donut was the winner in my book, but it didn’t make me fall in love…yet. I’m glad that I went back to try some of their other options, because now I am in love.

On trip two I came prepared with more than $6. The Cinnamon Snail is not cheap, but it’s on par with any restaurant meal pricing you’ll find in this area, and it’s worth it in my opinion.

The General Tso’s Sandwich was really tasty and gigantic! It could easily feed two people or be two meals. It had an interesting flavor combination of General Tso’s seitan and a wasabi mayonnaise. Personally, I liked the combo, but it may not be for everyone. The best part of the sandwich was the bread. I don’t know what they did to it, but it was magical. I think they grilled or toasted it with vegan butter. I’m sure it was not healthy, but it was so good.

The twists were also good and I liked them a little more than the donuts. I think part of my problem is that I’m not a big donut fan to start with vegan or not vegan. If you’re really into donuts, you’ll like these. The Mexican Hot Chocolate Twist was intriguing because it was dusted with a slightly spicy cayenne powder leaving a little aftertaste of spice. The Lemon Twist was mostly sweet with a light hint of lemon. Next time I should try their namesake Cinnamon Snail pastry.

The 200 Year Old Frog Man Breakfast Jamboree came with a lot of food – more than can fit on a plate without piling up as you can see. I didn’t even come close to finishing it all. It comes with scrambled tofu, sage smoked tempeh sausage, spicy French mustard greens, and maple pecan waffles with sweet brown butter, candied pecans and Vermont maple syrup.

The waffles were the best waffles I’ve ever had. They were crispy and buttery and perfect with the syrup and candied pecans. The tofu scramble was also really good and a nice balance of protein with the waffles. The sausage and greens were also good, but the waffles and tofu stole the show for me.

The Cinnamon Snail parks in Hoboken most days and Red Bank sometimes as well. You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter to find out their exact location on any given day. I would definitely recommend tracking them down sometime. I am looking forward to going back many Saturdays in my future.