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Vegan Kale Spanakopita

Vegan Kale Spanakopita Recipe

Vegan Kale SpanakopitaPhotos by Lindsey Johnson

If you’re a vegetarian, you shouldn’t have much trouble finding suitable Greek food. Sure, plenty of meat-centric entrees come to mind when you think of Greek cuisine, but the Greeks are also all about their veggies: stuffed grape leaves, the ever-popular Greek salad and–my personal favorite–spanakopita are all (typically) vegetarian.

If you follow a vegan diet, though, that’s another story. The Greeks are also all about eggs and cheese. This can be a bit of a bummer; I know it was for me when I started cutting these ingredients out of my diet. Spanakopita was my go-to meal at some favorite diners. (Seriously, it’s layers of flaky pastry stuffed with spinach and feta–a pie that you eat as a meal.)

Kale Spanakopita Filling
You’d be hard-pressed to find a vegan spanakopita while dining out. This spanakopita recipe is totally vegan, but not lacking at all in the richness of conventional versions of the dish. Even though feta is a crumbly cheese, it melts during baking, so a creamy blended cashew cheese works perfectly as a stand-in. A little lemon juice adds some tang, and a coating of olive oil between each pastry sheet gives it that delicate flaky texture spanakopita eaters adore.

Another twist on this version of the recipe: it uses kale in place of spinach. “Spanakopita” translates to “spinach pie.” I couldn’t find a Greek translation for “kale pie.” (Does anyone reading this speak Greek?) Maybe that means they don’t eat a whole lot of kale in Greece. That’s okay though; this kale spanakopita is as delicious as it is nontraditional, with just a touch of tartness and a hearty texture.

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Vegan Kale Spanakopita

Vegan Kale Spanakopita Recipe

This Vegan Kale Spanakopita uses lemony cashew cheese to mimic the flavor of feta.

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 6-8 servings

Ingredients

For the Cashew Feta

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water 4-8 hours
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons unflavored soy or almond milk

For the Kale Filling

  • 1 (1-pound) bunch kale, stems removed and chopped into 1 to 2-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

For the Pastry

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 24 sheets phyllo pastry

Instructions

Prepare the Cashew Feta

  1. Drain the cashews, place them in a food processor and blend to a thick paste, stopping to scrape down the bowl occasionally. Add the lemon juice and soy or almond milk. Process again until smooth and set aside.

Prepare the Kale Filling

  1. Add about 2 inches of water to a large saucepan and bring it to a boil. Lower heat to medium, add the kale and cover. Steam the kale until it’s completely wilted, removing the lid and stirring about every 2 minutes, cooking for a total of 6-8 minutes. Transfer the kale to a colander to drain.
  2. Pour all of the water out of the saucepan, wipe it dry, and return it to medium heat on the stove.
  3. Heat the olive oil in the saucepan. Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Return the kale to the saucepan, and add the lemon juice, green onions, salt, pepper and cashew feta. Toss a few times to get everything well mixed, then remove from heat.

Prepare the Spanakopita

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Use some of the olive oil to grease a 9 x 9 or 9 x 13-inch pan. Arrange a sheet of phyllo in the bottom of pan. Brush the entire top surface of the phyllo sheet with olive oil.
  3. Layer a second sheet over the first, and then brush the second sheet with olive oil in the same manner. Repeat this for 8 phyllo sheets, making sure to firmly (but gently) press down on each sheet to work out air bubbles. If using a 9 x 9-inch pan, tuck the excess phyllo down along the sides of the pan, or fold over top.
  4. After 8 sheets are layered, distribute half of the kale filling over the phyllo. Arrange 8 more sheets of phyllo over the filling, brushing each with olive oil as described above.
  5. Distribute the second half of the kale filling over the phyllo. Arrange the last 8 sheets of phyllo and remaining olive oil over the second filling layer, in the same manner as described above, making sure to brush the surface of the top phyllo sheet with olive oil.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Cut into 6 to 8 squares and serve.

Notes

While preparing the spanakopita, keep your phyllo covered with a damp dish towel, as the sheets will dry out quickly otherwise.

A 9 x 13-inch baking dish is the easiest way to go with this, because that’s pretty close to the dimensions of most phyllo sheets. I prefer a 9 x 9-inch pan though, because it results in a thicker spanakopita that holds up better during cutting.

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33 Comments

  • Reply
    Liz @ The Lemon Bowl
    August 21, 2014 at 9:02 am

    You had me at spanakopita.

    • Reply
      Alissa
      August 21, 2014 at 6:34 pm

      Excellent! I guess that mean being vegan and made with kale are bonuses 🙂

  • Reply
    Samantha @FerraroKitchen
    August 21, 2014 at 11:16 am

    We have a very similar dish in Turkish cuisine called “borek”. I made a spinach and feta borek and an eggplant one yesterday. I love, love the addition of kale, I think that would give it more abundance!

    • Reply
      Alissa
      August 21, 2014 at 6:35 pm

      Ohhh…that sound amazing. I’m totally not familiar with borek, but I’m a bit obsessed with eggplant, so I’m definitely going to have to look into this!

  • Reply
    Courtney @ The Fig Tree
    August 21, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    This looks so delicious!!! Yum! Cannot wait to give it a shot. Just got a huge bunch of kale in my organic delivery. I’m set 🙂

    • Reply
      Alissa
      August 21, 2014 at 6:38 pm

      Perfect! Sounds like you are set – enjoy!!

  • Reply
    Caitlin
    August 21, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    Vegans everywhere should be bowing at your feet!! (again? cause I’m also the one who went nuts for the cashew cheese caprese!). This looks phenomenol and will be in my recipe line up in the near future.

    • Reply
      Alissa
      August 21, 2014 at 6:40 pm

      Haha! That’s some serious praise, but I’ll totally take it! It’s amazing what a few cashews can do for a vegan recipe 🙂 Hope you enjoy this one!

  • Reply
    Robyn B | Modern Day Missus
    August 21, 2014 at 9:12 pm

    Yum – that looks delicious! It’s funny how you can literally create any dish that used to have cheese by using cashews…. I feel like they’re such a veggie lovers secret!

    • Reply
      Alissa
      August 22, 2014 at 8:54 pm

      So true! Cashews really are THE amazing vegan secret ingredient. I’m a bit obsessed with them lately 🙂

  • Reply
    SO
    August 22, 2014 at 7:29 am

    LOVE this recipe (and all the other vegan recipes here) , all the way from Israel ! (: Thank you….

    • Reply
      Alissa
      August 22, 2014 at 8:55 pm

      Awww…thank you so much! Glad to hear you’re enjoying all the vegan goodness!!!

      • Reply
        SO
        August 23, 2014 at 11:20 am

        I am ! Its great , Please keep them coming !! (:

  • Reply
    Kate @¡Hola! Jalapeño
    August 22, 2014 at 8:36 am

    Oh wow! I’ve been searching for a vegan spanakopita recipe-Yum!

    • Reply
      Alissa
      August 22, 2014 at 8:57 pm

      Found! Enjoy 🙂

  • Reply
    Jessica @ Jessica in the Kitchen
    August 22, 2014 at 11:15 am

    SO GOOD! I had a vegetarian healthier version of kale spanakopita planned to make but then I soaked cashews last night…!! All I need is some phyllo! This looks amazing.

    • Reply
      Alissa
      August 22, 2014 at 8:58 pm

      Nice! Sounds like you’re almost set. Hope you enjoy it!!

  • Reply
    Dixya @ Food, Pleasure, and Health
    August 22, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    very interesting vegan feta, i never thought of it. this looks really good.

    • Reply
      Alissa
      August 22, 2014 at 9:01 pm

      Thank you! I had to do a bit of brainstorming on the feta. Cashews are so versatile – it’s not surprising they ended up working out so well 🙂

  • Reply
    Alexis @ Hummusapien
    August 22, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    OMG this stuff is straight out of my wildest dreams!!!! KALE YEAH, BABY.

    • Reply
      Alissa
      August 24, 2014 at 10:14 am

      Haha! Thanks Alexis! I’m totally with you – kale rocks!!

  • Reply
    Joanne
    August 27, 2014 at 7:56 am

    My fiance is Greek and one of his cousins is vegan, and it’s always such a struggle for the family to figure out what to make for him. I know what I’m bringing to the next family function! What a great recipe!

    • Reply
      Alissa
      August 27, 2014 at 12:02 pm

      Oh that’s perfect! Thanks Joanne – I hope your family enjoys it 🙂

  • Reply
    Meredith @ Unexpectedly Magnificent
    September 2, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    I made this tonight. It was fantastic! I’m going to double the filling next time, because I couldn’t get enough of it! 🙂

    • Reply
      Alissa
      September 2, 2014 at 9:24 pm

      Nice! Yeah, I enjoyed the filling so much I think I’d eat it on it’s own. So glad to hear you enjoyed this. Thanks so much for the feedback 🙂

  • Reply
    Jasmin
    September 8, 2014 at 10:54 am

    This spanakopita looks very nice, and the recipe is quite simple,
    so I guess I’ll be looking for some kale on the market these days 🙂

    • Reply
      Alissa
      September 8, 2014 at 4:35 pm

      Thanks Jasmin! It was really nice, and definitely pretty simple compared to lots of other spanakopita recipes. Hope you enjoy it 🙂

  • Reply
    Gabby
    March 11, 2015 at 12:12 am

    I found this and it looks delicious! I have to say that the hubby is not overly fond of kale, so we are trying it with spinach tonight. Though I am definitely going to have to add more of that filling, it was delicious when I was eating, er testing it.

    • Reply
      Alissa
      March 11, 2015 at 12:17 pm

      I went a little overboard with taste testing the filling when I made this too! 😉 Glad you’re enjoying it. Thanks Gabby!

  • Reply
    Andrea
    December 19, 2015 at 9:25 pm

    I just harvested among the last of our Russian kale for the season and this recipe was perfect for it. Thank you!

    • Reply
      Alissa
      December 20, 2015 at 10:26 pm

      Perfect! Glad you enjoyed it!!

  • Reply
    Maria
    April 20, 2017 at 10:49 am

    I’m trying this tomorrow since my cousin has planted kale and we now have so much we put it in everything! There is no Greek work for kale simply because it just didn’t exist here until very recently! So it’s just kale for us too!

  • Reply
    Marry
    August 23, 2017 at 10:02 am

    This was a fun and yummy dinner for a change of pace. I used an 8″x8” dish and got 4 servings. The leftovers heated up nicely in the toaster oven. Prep time 10 min? This took me at least 20 min just to assemble (I sprayed the layers instead of brushing and had to keep pumping my Misto sprayer). Thanks Alissa!

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