Thursday, 22 March 2012

Bosnian Spinach and "Cheese" Plait

Simple and spectacular! Nothing says "I'm a culinary whizz" like a plaited pastry (either that or you're a smug wanker who thinks too highly of herself, K-bobo). Either way you are in for a tasty treat here and one that will super impress any guests you happen to have lying around. As I've commented previously (in this post on the subject), Bosnia turned out to be a real Spinach-and-Cheese kind of country - which provides an interesting challenge for a vegan cook. I sure had fun with it though! 

This is my second spinach and cheese pie recipe, in my first recipe I used a vegan home made baked almond feta which I found on another blog (see here). Overall, however, I found that cheese a bit heavy and creamy (and also VERY expensive to make - being made almost exclusively of almond meal). So this time I used my own home made feta which I devised for Croatia Month (January 2012) when I made my Croatian Pizzas. It made a much lighter filling, which was appropriate for this delicate little plait! The plait formation also makes it very easy to serve, just cut it up across the plaiting and each piece you cut will magically already be in three individual pieces - making it quick and easy to serve up at a dinner party. You will need a helping pair of hands to roll these up and plait them though!

6 sheets filo pastry (thawed if frozen)
1 small bunch spinach (silverbeet)
300g hard tofu (meaning it should be a solid blog which retains it's shape when you squeeze it)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 clove garlic
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup almonds, toasted (you can do this in the oven for a few minutes or in a dry fry pan)
1/3 cup walnuts
Pinch of nutmeg (optional)
Melted Nuttelex (or other non dairy butter or margarine)
Sesame seeds

To Make
1. Chop the spinach and place in a saucepan with 1/2 cup of water. Cover and let it cook on a medium heat until the spinach is completely wilted (about 10 mins). Drain the spinach and squeeze out all the water. Allow to cool.
2. Crumble the tofu with your hands into a bowl. Crush the garlic into the bowl and mix well. Add the salt and lemon juice and stir through. Taste test and see if it needs more salt or it needs a bit more sour (if so add a bit more lemon juice). Set aside for about 15 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse into the tofu.
3. Pulse the walnuts and almonds in a food process until coarsely ground, add a pinch on nutmeg.
4. Combine the cooled spinach, nuts and the tofu mixture in a bowl and mix well (easiest to do with your hands).
5. Lay you sheets of filo pastry out on the bench and cover with a slightly damp tea towel when not using. Melt the butter for brushing the sheets with.
6. Take 2 pieces of filo pastry and lay them on top of each other. Along the longest edge of the pastry spread out 1/3 of the spinach and tofu mixture:

7. Starting from the edge with the filling, roll the pastry up like a loooong cigar or sausage roll, use melted Nuttelex on the last inch or two of the pastry to make it stick and hold it together.
8. Repeat with the rest of the ingredients. You should now have three identical logs. 
9. Line a baking tray with non stick paper and place the three logs onto it. Brush each log with melted Nuttelex to make them easier to plait. Pinch them together at the top and space make plenty of space between each log to allow some room for the plaiting:

10. Starting from the log on the right hand side carefully plait the logs until you reach the end, it should only be a few plaits but try and keep them nice and tight. Pinch the other end together as well to keep it together.

11. Brush with a bit more Nuttelex and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake in a moderate oven for 20-25 minutes, until browned on top and the pastry is nice and crispy. Serve immediately!

Serves 4-5.

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