Plant Based 411
Happy Spring Holidays!
By Nancy Eisman
As some of you know, holidays can often be a disappointment, food wise, for those of us plant-based eaters dining in an omnivore/carnivore world. It is definitely a treat when someone makes the effort to prepare a special main course, especially on a special occasion.
April is the holiday month of spring, with Passover (4/19-4/27), Easter (4/21), and Earth Day (4/22) among other religious-, cultural-, or secular-based celebrations taking place. With this season of springtime soirees in mind, I’m presenting a recipe that is not only holiday worthy, but it should bring a wow or two when brought to the table.
Spring Greens, Artichoke & Leek Filo Pie takes classic Greek spanakopita to a plant-based place of satisfying scrumptiousness. Layers of filo sheets, brushed with olive oil, surround a savory mixture of artichoke hearts, rainbow chard leaves, chopped leeks, watercress, dill, and a plant-based feta that will have your guests saying “oompah”.
Serve this pleasing pie with a colorful, fresh and crunchy salad of mini cucumbers, baby heirloom tomatoes, chopped red onion, and plump, salty, and luscious black Mediterranean olives in an olive oil & lemon juice dressing. Both of these recipes will make a delicious and filling Easter offering, and if you’re celebrating Passover, simply replace the filo with matzo and you’ll have a standout surprise for the plant-based guests at your Seder table.
Springtime Greens, Artichoke & Leek Filo Pie
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups of leeks, cleaned & sliced
3 cups rainbow chard leaves
1 package artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 cup watercress
½ cup dill
1 box filo dough
Olive oil for brushing the filo sheets
Sesame seeds for sprinkling
Feta – (make this the night before)
1 package extra firm tofu, crumbled and drained
1 tablespoon white miso
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon tahini
Salt and pepper to taste
The night before pie prep, make the feta by mixing together the miso, vinegar, lemon juice, salt, oregano, nutritional yeast and tahini and stir until well blended. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Pour the mixture over the crumbled and drained tofu and toss to coat.
To make the pie filling, sauté the leeks in the 1 ½ tablespoons of olive oil for 6 minutes until softened. Add in the chard leaves and artichoke hearts and sauté another 3-4 minutes. Add in the watercress and dill and sauté 1-2 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a springform pan with cooking oil and set aside.
If you’re using the pesto, stir it into the 1/3 cup of olive oil and set aside.
Combine the feta and chard & leek mixture with the watercress and fresh dill. Set aside.
To assemble the pie, carefully remove 1 full sheet of filo and place in the pan with the ends hanging over the side. (Be sure to cover the remaining filo sheets with a damp towel to keep them from drying out.) Brush the filo sheet with the oil, and then top with an additional 5 sheets, brushing each with oil, for a total of 6 sheets. Be sure to brush the top sheet with oil.
Make a second stack of 6 filo sheets following the above directions, crosswise over the first stack, again draping the ends. Place the filling in the pan over the filo sheets and smooth out the top.
Create a 3rd stack of ½ filo sheets over the filling, carefully tucking in all the edges to seal everything in. Take additional filo, brushed with oil, scrunch these and place them over the top of the pie. Brush with additional olive oil, add a pinch or 2 of salt & pepper, and sprinkle with some sesame seeds.
Bake the pie at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes until the top is golden brown. Remove the pie from the oven and let cool at least 15 minutes before springing from the pan.
Cut into wedges and serve with the cucumber, tomato, red onion and olive salad.