Quite often, I meet people who genuinely sympathize with my being vegan, and by Goddess I love them. Unfortunately the conversation sometimes turns to “ohhh but you can’t have x/y/z”, or “there’s no substitute for that”. It’s perplexing because often, these are people who are accomplished chefs and cooks. We all have access to the same ingredients, and while cheese may be delicious, there are natural alternatives that can fill in for animal products. They may not taste exactly the same, but nobody says they have to. Different can still be delicious, and as long as it tastes delicious and has a similar texture, who cares!? That is absolutely the case with this Spinach Tart inspired by Elizabeth Minchilli in her new book The Italian Table: Creating Festive Meals for Family and Friends.
It was through this post that I became aware of this recipe and the author/book mentioned above. I knew instantly that I had to make it. If you haven’t checked out Cathy’s website She Paused For Thought, you must! She’s an amazing chef and photographer, not to mention one of the kindest, most thoughtful humans I’ve ever met.
The majority of this recipe, besides spinach as the main ingredient, is ricotta cheese. At first, yes, it may be hard to think of an acceptable vegan substitute, but I’m here to tell you that spent almond meal comes to our rescue!
If you’re not familiar with what spent almond meal is, I’ve got you! It’s the by-product of making your own almond milk. If you’ve never made your own, let me tell you, it’s the best plant milk you’ll ever taste! This is the one habit that stuck after participating in October Unprocessed for a few years in a row. The taste is like none other. BUT, it produces spent almonds that are wet and all ground up. Luckily, it is the PERFECT base for making a ricotta-like substitute.
I love to veganize recipes, and like I said, I knew I’d love this. Any way to get a fuckload of greens in your body while also feeling like you’re indulging in something you shouldn’t, is on my list of top recipes. This recipe takes the cake, because I’ve thrown out the animal products, while producing something that has the same texture, and has a huge bump on the protein front.
So, to replace the ricotta, we start with spent almond meal. To aid in consistency, I added half of a block of tofu. Lemon juice is a must in nearly every recipe – that’s a trick of mine. If you ever think a dish is bland or missing some flavor in a recipe – add a squirt of fresh lemon juice. It enhances all the flavors in your dish just like salt does. Finally, nutritional yeast adds a little bit of cheesy, umami flavor that we are missing from not using actual cheese.
Now, I’m not a nutritionist, but this dish when paired with a salad, or topped with avocado is a perfect breakfast to start your day, especially if you’re wanting to lose weight. The fat contained within is mostly healthy (olive oil/nuts), and you get a solid protein boost too (tofu/nuts/spinach). The best part is that it’s naturally low in carbohydrates, with tons of fiber. This dish has all the wins! It serves 8 too, so you can meal prep a few breakfasts for the week with this bad boy! I hope you enjoy this amazing vegan dish!
Vegan Spinach Tart
- 2 Pounds Spinach Fresh
- 1 Cup Spent Almond Meal
- 7.5 Ounces Extra Firm Tofu (1/2 Block)
- 2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice Fresh
- 6 Tablespoons Nutritional Yeast
- 1/2 Teaspoon Nutmeg
- 4 Tablespoons Vegan Buttery Sticks melted
- 2 Teaspoons Salt
- 1 Teaspoon Pepper
- 1/2 Cup Almond Milk
- 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil Extra Virgin
- 1/2 Cup Pine Nuts
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and line an 8 inch cake pan with parchment paper.
- In a large pot over high heat, add in 4 cups of water, and the spinach. Heat until the spinach has wilted, about 10 minutes. Drain, and let cool. When cool enough to handle, place in a clean towel, gathering the sides of the towel around the spinach. Make a ball, and squeeze all of the moisture out of the spinach. When you think you've got it all, let it rest for a little bit, and then squeeze some more. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, crumble the tofu with your hands. Add in the spent almond meal (or almond flour), lemon juice, nutritional yeast, nutmeg, melted vegan butter, salt, pepper, almond milk, and 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix well
- Roughly chop the wilted spinach and add to the bowl, mixing well with a fork to ensure that no solid clumps of spinach remain. Add the mixture to the cake pan, and smooth with an offset spatula or back of a spoon.
- In a small food processor, add the pine nuts, and remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Spread this mixture over the top of the tart. Place in the oven, and bake for 50 minutes, or until the pine nuts have a deep golden color.
- Remove from oven, and let cool for 10 minutes. Run a butter knive along the sides of the tart to release it from the pan. Then, invert the tart onto an intermediate platter or cookie sheet, and then re-invert back onto a serving platter. Serve immediately!
- If you don’t make your own almond milk, you can substitute almond flour instead. Add 2 more tablespoons of almond milk to make up for the moisture loss.