Spanakopita Tart (vegan, GF)

Riddle me this:

Spanakopita Tart // The Pancake Princess

You’re cooking or baking for an event. You have a pretty good idea of what you’re going to make. Your fridge is stocked with the necessary ingredients. At the last second, you spend 45 minutes frantically scrolling through Pinterest in search of a more perfect cookie recipe than the one you already have, then end up making the one you originally planned on AND are late to the party. Why?

Spanakopita Tart // The Pancake Princess

No really—WHY? This happens to me, almost without fail, every time. This past weekend found me once again a hot, sweaty mess cooking up a delicious mess of gnocchi and trays on trays of cookies because I couldn’t decide on just one. Contributing to my sweat was the fact that I had already been running around all day without a chance to work out, so I decided to take a break in the middle of cooking to run out my angst in the fastest two miles I’ve run in ages, leaving my roommate to uncertainly pan-toast the gnocchi. In the end, even though I second-guessed my choices too many times, I made exactly what I knew I was going to make (deep, DEEP down) in the first place. And guess what? We were late. We ate food. The food disappeared. It was good. People complimented the cookies.

Note to self: stop second-guessing self. Unless you want to be unnecessarily CRAZY.

Spanakopita Tart // The Pancake Princess

In other news, I woke up with a random craving for spanakopita the other day. This tart was actually something I made the night before a dinner party so I didn’t even have the opportunity to second-guess myself the day of (thank God). (And good thing I didn’t because it was a hit.)

Spanakopita craving + an unquittable hankering to try vegan cheese + this tart crust + bags on bags of chickpea flour = spanakopita tart.

It was just a happy coincidence that the night after I made this, I got to go to a Greek restaurant where I ate some “real deal” spanakopita. But after eating this version, I found the authentic stuff overly creamy, salty, and obnoxiously messy (hello greasy phyllo flakes ALL OVER MY LAP). Amazingly, I so prefer this cheese-less version.


I let my cousin–who doesn’t eat cheese, animal products, refined sugar, flour or processed food–inspect the ingredient list before she sampled this (she approved the sampling, which is big).

“But it’s so quiche-y…” said she.

“Yup. Almond cheese.” said I.

“…are you SURE there are no eggs in this? I don’t understand this!”

To be honest, I don’t really either. I tasted the “almond feta” once it was all blended up and wasn’t too impressed. But somehow, along with a big mess of spinach and aromatics, it all turns into a heavenly, slightly tangy, cheesy-tasting, vegetable-packed tart of epically delicious proportions.


The “feta” in this recipe requires soaking almonds for an hour before skinning them, so it requires a bit of prep time. You can do this ahead of time, or you could try substituting a cup of almond meal and skip the whole soaking + skinning process.

Before making the crust, I tested six permutations of quinoa, chickpea flour, oat flour, and almond meal. In the end, I happily ate all of my test rounds so the moral is you can’t really go wrong. The proportions lend themselves to be played with depending on what you have. I left the oat flour out because it tended to create a slightly less crisp and tasteful crust (I like the nuttiness chickpea flour adds). A decent amount of almond meal is a must to give the crust some fat and a nice crispy texture, but you don’t need to go overboard.

This amount of crust just baaaarely covered my 10-inch tart pan (I had to press it out quite thin) but I think it might be a more comfortable fit for a 8 or 9-inch tart. Mini tarts would also be quite cute–just make sure to reduce the baking time and keep an eye on the browning.

PS! The winner of the San Francisco Chef’s Table giveaway is Margot C! Congratulations Margot–I will be emailing you shortly :) Thank you to everyone who entered! Giving things away is so fun–I wish I could have given every single one of you this amazing book!

Spanakopita tart

Yield: 1 9- or 10-inch tart

This vegan tart was inspired by the spinach-heavy spanakopita. The thick, quiche-like filling gets its richness from an almond-based "feta" and a bit of almond meal in the crust. Nutty chickpea flour is a great foil to the creamy filling.


  • For the tart crust:
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa (I used red quinoa)
  • ¾ cup chickpea flour
  • 6 tablespoons almond meal or flour
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • generous pinch of salt and pepper

  • For the filling:
  • 1 cup almonds
  • ½ cup water
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¾ teaspoon table salt

  • ½ medium onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 4 green onions
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 10 oz. frozen, chopped spinach, defrosted


For the tart crust:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease a 9 or 10-inch tart pan. Combine all crust ingredients and mix with your hands until you form a sticky dough. With wet hands, press the dough evenly into the pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until crust is firm and dry to the touch and is just starting to brown.

For the filling:

Soak the almonds in very hot water for about an hour. Once the skins are wrinkly and loose, remove the skins by pinching one end and popping the almond loose. Blend the skinned almonds with the water, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and salt until smooth (leave mixture in blender).

Heat a bit of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for about 5 minutes, or until they start to take on a bit of color. Add the garlic, green onions and parsley and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add the spinach and cook for a few minutes until the entire mixture is warmed through.

Add the spinach mixture to your blender and pulse until you reach desired consistency of the greens (I pulsed until the greens were just little ribbons, but you can completely incorporate the greens or leave them pretty chunky).

Pour the filling into the crust, smooth the top, and bake for 30 minutes, or until the top is set and browned slightly.


Adapted and inspired from here and here.

Vegan Taiwanese Shaved Ice

We must draw a distinction right now between the granular, neon-colored snow cones that the phrase “shaved ice” might call to mind and the only shaved ice worth talking about: an ethereally light drift of ice topped with fruit and a thick gloss of condensed milk.

Vegan Shaved Ice // The Pancake Princess

I had no idea what I was saying yes to when, at the end of freshman year, I accepted a friend’s invite to get shaved ice in Chinatown. Twenty minutes later, I was introduced to my first-ever Taiwanese shaved ice (or baobing) with wide eyes: a mammoth bowl of milk-lustered fruit bedded on the finest ice I’ve ever seen, topped with a full-sized scoop of ice cream. It was a R.E.V.E.L.A.T.I.O.N.

Vegan Taiwanese Shaved Ice // The Pancake Princess

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Chocolate Mudslide Cookies + part II of the Craig Lee interview!

I’m really having to check myself before I gush about these cookies…OMG THE CHOCOLATINESS. THE MELTING SANDINESS. THE DEEP, DARK CHOCOLATE FIREWORKS.

Chocolate Mudslide Cookies // The Pancake Princess

Okay, checking my enthusiasm for now.

Today’s post features part two of an interview with Craig Lee, award-winning photojournalist and photographer of the San Francisco Chef’s Table cookbook (part one of the interview is here). And also a fabulously rich cookie that I kind of screwed up, but am still sharing.

This part of the interview is perhaps my favorite—these questions get to the heart of what we’re after, after all—THE FOOD! Read on for Craig’s (psst–he’s my uncle!) favorite recipes from the book, his tips for aspiring food photographers, and his favorite eats in San Francisco!

(With his underground food connections, you know this list is going to be top-quality.)

Chocolate Mudslide Cookies // The Pancake Princess

Chocolate Mudslide Cookies // The Pancake Princess

An interview with Craig Lee, Part II:

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Buttermilk Cakes with Honey Caramel, an interview + a giveaway!

If there’s one thing I learned from adding six cookbooks over Christmas to my makeshift cardboard box “bookshelf,” it’s that there’s a not-so-fine line between the cookbooks that languish as the bookend supports and those that never really find a proper spot because it keeps getting picked up and flipped through.

Buttermilk Cakes with Honey Caramel // The Pancake Princess

The San Francisco Chef’s Table has been the most recent cookbook to fall into the latter category and it’s one that’s grown on me the longer I’ve had it. Aside from being stuffed to the brim with gorgeous photography and irresistible recipes, it immerses you so deeply into the food scene of my home metropolis through a series of chef-sourced recipes and fascinating backstories on award-winning restaurants that you’ll never want to leave.

Written by Carolyn Jung, an award-winning food and wine writer and blogger, and photographed by Craig Lee, an award-winning photojournalist, the cookbook is like taking a tour through the best of the San Francisco food scene practically for free–with the bonus of being able to re-create those amazing recipes in your own kitchen!

Craig, who worked for the award-winning Food and Wine department of the San Francisco Chronicle for many years and has shot for other cookbooks such as The Davis Farmers Market Cookbook and The Working Cook, also happens to be my uncle. He generously took some time out of his day to talk to us about his latest cookbook project!

Buttermilk Cakes with Honey Caramel // The Pancake Princess

Does it look just like the picture or what?

There was too much good stuff to fit into one post, so I’m breaking the interview up into two parts: in part one of the interview (today), you can learn about the process of shooting the cookbook, the importance of lighting in food photography and more.

Part two will feature tips for aspiring food photographers, hit recipes from the book and unique recommendations for the SF food scene that you won’t find anywhere else!

An interview with Craig Lee, Part I:

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Sesame-Almond Cabbage Egg Nests

Sesame-Almond Cabbage Egg Nests // The Pancake Princess

This past weekend I joined my mom in Austin to watch my sister play in one of her Ultimate Frisbee tournaments. OMG! Do you guys even know how much running that sport involves? Like 90+ straight minutes of running. I almost never watch sports for fun, so it was a mind-boggle to watch those girls relentlessly sprint, turn, lunge, jump and dive for that little white disc, especially in the cold, windy weather we got on Sunday.

You don’t even need a ref to play (players will call fouls on each other and you talk out any disputes on the field): just a field and a Frisbee. Any age, any time. It almost makes me want to pick up the sport, except for the running part.

So much good food is to be had in Austin—as one friend said, “Austin is not the place to be skinny or sober.” Well, we tried. Luxuriously thick smoothies at a tiny juice bar, iconic and consistent tacos, and the most satisfying feast with vegetable-packed bibimbap at my favorite Austin eatery. A stop at Tam’s Deli to pick up banh mi for the team also brought us to the cutest, most unassuming mom and pop shop with steamed vegetable buns (!!).

Those bibimbap bowls always leave me longing for a huge bowl of crunchy vegetables, avocado, tofu and a runny egg drizzled in a light, tangy sauce, so I’ll share how I make my own at home soon. This cabbage nest was invented partly due to those crunchy cravings, partly due to a desire to make delicious baked eggs on a smaller scale. The toasted, herbed almond bits almost adds a savory, cheese-like saltiness to the cabbage without actually adding parmesan (though I could be dreaming), and the edges of the cabbage took on a roasty, toasty quality reminiscent of caramelized roasted cauliflower (yum). And cooking the egg, covered, in a nest of cabbage yields an egg quite texturally similar to baked eggs. It’s so simple and unexpectedly delicious. Try it!

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