Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free, Nut Free Cheezy Spinach Pie Recipe

Cheezy Spinach Pie with Hippie Zebra Heirloom TomatoThis post is for anyone with multiple food allergies, but especially for Karina the Gluten Free Goddess.

A few days ago the topic of nutritional yeast in un-cheese recipes came up. Joanne Stepaniak is the reigning queen of vegan cheese substitute recipes, and has many excellent cookbooks, including her The Nutritional Yeast Cookbook: Recipes Using Red Star Vegetarian Support Formula, The Uncheese Cookbook: Creating Amazing Dairy-Free Cheese Substitutes and Classic “Uncheese” Dishes, Vegan Deli,Vegan Vittles: Recipes Inspired by the Critters of Farm Sanctuary. However, the question was- how useful are these cookbooks for someone with multiple allergies? First of course, you have to screen the books for gluten- there are a few recipes with gluten, but overall these books are an excellent resource for the gluten free, lactose intolerant chef. If you are intolerant to soy, a few more recipes have to be screened out, still leaving a decent amount of recipes based on nuts, beans, oats (I use quinoa) and nutritional yeast. But, if you happen to be allergic to gluten, most nuts, soy, and lemon juices, probably your best bet is to scour the internet for nutritional yeast based recipes and start experimenting.

This conversation reminded me of my days as a gluten free vegan, cooking at my friend’s college lodging commercial kitchen late at night. (Yes, it was way cool.) My friend was the original genius behind one of my favorite holiday recipes, spinach pie. You met one incarnation of this recipe with my chebe tartlets . At that time we were both vegan, and vegans that didn’t like nasty processed un-cheese, at that. So, we decided to vegan-ize our favorite recipe and created a very tasty vegan spinach pie. The gluten free vegan diet rules out eggs and dairy, making it ideal for anyone who is both gluten intolerant and has multiple allergies. Many vegan recipes use soy as the base of their dairy substitutions- but you absolutely don’t have to rely on soy anymore, with the prevalence of rice, almond, and even hemp milks on the market. (Which reminds me, I’ve never tried hemp milk- is it good???) So, with those happy vegan memories floating in my head, the other day I set out to create a spinach pie that used nutritional yeast for cheesy flavor without any allergenic ingredients.

dairypie.jpgI made a white roux with lots of garlic powder, and added some nutritional yeast for added flavor. I also made a dairy version for DH, who is skeptical about spinach in general and not the biggest fan of a pie centering on spinach. I followed the same basic recipe for his, but used dairy milk and 4 oz. cheddar and 2 oz feta cheese, just for variety’s sake. To my surprise, I found that I rather preferred the dairy free version, although here’s a big tip- IF you only have vanilla flavored unsweetened rice milk in your house and want to avoid using soy milk to make sure the recipe really works- go to the store and buy unsweetened PLAIN rice milk, because otherwise, no matter how much garlic powder you add to the recipe, you will still taste the ever so mild, ever so insidious flavor of vanilla. Another thing- when the pie first comes out of the oven, it won’t be firm. I don’t mind, myself, and am greedy enough to eat it right then. However, if you want it to be firmer in texture, consider adding xanthan gum or some other thickener- or even more flour. It will become firm after cooling, and especially after refrigeration. It tastes good cold OR hot, making it a good bento box (lunch box) candidate, especially if you have access to a refrigerator. It was VERY yummy with a sliced heirloom tomato (hippie zebra, if you were wondering…) sprinkled delicately with black salt. YUM! So, next time you’re wishing for something cheesy, why not make a cheezy spinach pie with nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast doesn’t taste JUST like cheese, but it does add a salty, cheesy note to recipes that I personally find very, very tasty. Note: If you are new to nutritional yeast, ease into it by trying it on popcorn or in my famous Southern Tofu Recipe or Baked Nutritional Yeast Tofu Recipe, both brought to you by Joanne Stepaniak. You could also try my favorite recipe for vegetarian gravy or explore my entire collection of recipes using nutritional yeast.

And, here’s a visual test. Can you tell which one is the dairy free version, and which contains dairy? Maybe you can- but, they’re both darned similar!

twopies.jpg pieswflower.jpg twopies2.jpg

Dairy Free Spinach Pie Recipe
Gluten Free Pastry Shell:
One GF pastry recipe (I used Bette Hagman’s dream pastry, which makes 3+ pastry shells- Gluten Free Pantry perfect pie crust is another favorite option)
Garlic powder

Spinach Filling:
23 oz. of spinach (2 1/2 9 oz spinach packages, or 2 1/2 spinach bunches)

Cheeze like Sauce Recipe:
2 tbsp dairy free margarine or olive oil
1 tbsp granulated garlic (or more, to taste)
2 tbsp white rice flour
1 and 1/2 cups rice milk
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 tsp Southern Roux (or more)- optional)
sprinkle chipotle pepper
salt to taste

Southern Roux:
1/4 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup white rice flour
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Prepare pie shell: If using Bette Hagman dream pastry mix, combine ingredients and form a ball, kneading if desired. Chill for specified time (an hour?) and then roll out inside a lightly floured gallon sized freezer ziploc bag with the sides cut open. IF you have two pie pans that are the same size, place the ziploc bag over the bottom of one of the inverted pie pans. Peel off one side of the freezer bag (the side facing up) and gently place your second pie pan over the naked dough so you have a layer of: Inverted pie pan. Ziploc Bag sheet. Naked Pie Crust. Inverted pie pan.

Quickly turn over the stacks of pie pans in one motion so they are facing right side up but are still stacked together. Remove the pie pan that was on the bottom. You should be looking at a ziploc bag sheet covering the pastry dough. Carefully fiddle with the ziploc bag and pastry so it is centered on your remaining pie pan. It has occurred to me that it might be desirable to chill or even lightly freeze the whole thing at this point, but I’m usually too impatient. Carefully peel off the ziploc bag sheet. You should be looking at a pie pan draped in pastry dough, sans plastic. Fix any holes in the pastry. Sprinkle your pastry with garlic powder. Bake at 375 for 10-15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Reserve.

Prepare Roux:
Take equal parts flour and oil and slowly heat them in a cast iron pan on medium low for 10-45 minutes, stirring constantly. For my inaugural attempt, I used the above combination. Next time I would probably just use all olive oil. I heated my flour and oil for 30 minutes, stirring constantly. Don’t let the flour burn- the slower the whole process goes, the better, as turning up the heat if you get impatient is just likely to result in burned roux. Reserve leftover roux (and there is tons of it) in the refrigerator for another recipe.. how does vegetarian gumbo sound?

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. if needed.

Prepare Spinach by cooking lightly in a pan with a small amount of water. Rinse with cold water, drain, and chop into bite sized pieces. Reserve.

Make cheez sauce by melting margarine in saucepan. When melted add garlic and white rice flour. Combine. Add rice milk, slowly, stirring and letting thicken. If you need more rice milk, don’t be shy. Just try to get it all to thicken nicely. When you have a nice white sauce, add your Southern Roux and seasonings and blend. Sprinkle in your nutritional yeast, stirring. Taste. Adjust seasonings to taste. Add your drained, chopped spinach and stir until thoroughly combined.

Fill your pastry shell with your spinach cheez filling. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until top is slightly browned. Pie may not be firm if you try to cut it now. It SHOULD firm up as it cools, especially if chilled in refrigerator. However, regardless, it should taste good at any point. Enjoy!

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14 Responses to “Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free, Nut Free Cheezy Spinach Pie Recipe”

  1. Oh, Sea! You are such a creative cook. This sounds lovely. I have always liked spinach with cheese – so I am definitely intrigued. I’ll try a version of this soon – perhaps with a biscuit crust (egg-free). Thank you for writing such a thorough post on cooking with nutritional yeast. I’ll bet I’m not the only one who appreciates vegan + gluten-free! [HUGS] Karina

  2. Yup, I kind of meant to put a note about egg- both of my crusts call for egg, but I thought egg free chefs probably have their own favorite egg free pie crust recipe that they could use— or it could be made as a crumble, or even use a cheesecake approach with crumbled crackers on the bottom as a “crust”. In that case it would definitely need to be refrigerated before consumption for the firmest slice ‘o pie. :)

    You are very welcome… Thank YOU for giving me an excuse to play with one of my favorite recipes!
    (oh ya, and a hug right back at ya!)

  3. [...] Monday: Vegan Dairy Free Soy Free Vegan Spinach Pie (for Karina) Heirloom Tomato Tasting Platter [...]

  4. Wow, this really hits the spinach and un-cheese craving I’ve had on the head! Thanks for the recipe and tips, I think I’ll go venture to the store for spinach now…

    Your picture is fantastic- it looks as great as it sounds… mmmmm


  5. I THOUGHT that was a Hippie Zebra the moment I saw it! That’s been one of my stand-out tomatoes this season. Early ripening and a ton of fruit…love it! I was doing some research on gluten, and noticed that amaranth grain contains none. I’m currently growing that for Manresa, and it’s not quite ripe yet. If you’d like to have some of mine, come on over and I’ll set you up. You can take some pics of it growing, it’s quite beautiful.

  6. [...] However, as I learned from some vegetarian southern friends long ago, many foundational Southern comfort dishes like biscuits or slow cooked greens are easily divested of any meat based ingredients with absolutely scrumptious results. Further, many gluten free cookbooks have offerings for Gluten Free Biscuit recipes and pies. One of my favorites is the recipe for bisquik like gluten free biscuits in Bette Hagman’s The Gluten-Free Gourmet Cooks Fast and Healthy: Wheat-Free and Gluten-Free with Less Fuss and Less Fat.I also own a unique cookbook specializing in gluten free southern recipes, although I tend to rely on Bette Hagman or Carol Fenster’s recipes for basic breads. If making biscuits from scratch seems like too much, you can find a biscuit mix from Allergy Grocer or The Gluten-Free Pantry Quick Mix.I was recently inspired by a new (non GF) cookbook,Cookin’ Southern Vegetarian Styleto begin experimenting with the classic cornerstone of southern (especially Cajun) cuisine, roux. I first used a gluten free roux recipe to add flavor and depth to my dairy free, soy free spinach pie recipe. There was so much roux left that I decided to make a gluten free variation of a vegetarian gumbo recipe found in the above book, using heirloom tomatoes and chickpeas for additional protein and flavor. I had more okra than the recipe required, so after I cut them into chunks, coated them in cornmeal and fried them in olive oil, I put three quarters of them in the gumbo, but served the remainder as an easy fried okra appetizer. I served the gumbo with a tasty spicy onion corn muffin recipe by Bette Hagman- it was just as good as I remembered, and it perfectly complimented the gumbo. Rice would also be tasty with gumbo, if you’d prefer. It’s the most traditional accompaniment to gumbo anyway. [...]

  7. Hi Cindalou! I’ve been really in the mood for spinach lately myself- not sure why. I’m starting to feel like Popeye!

    Hi Cynthia, It’s nice to see you here! I loved the Hippie Zebra- it was absolutely delicious and so photogenic. Love that delicately patterned skin. Let me know when the amaranth grain is ripe- I’d love to see it and try some fresh from the field. (Prepared, of course). I used to love looking at the rice fields in Japan… Nothing is quite as nice a whole field full of a grain I can actually eat, heh heh.


  8. Can brown rice flour be substituted for the white rice flour?

  9. Hi Kat,
    Yes- in fact half of the time I make this recipe I use brown rice flour. I like using brown rice flour for a roux because it added a nice nutty flavor. You can always substitute brown rice for white rice, but you do have to keep in mind that brown rice flour has more flavor, and sometimes with sweet recipes it may be a little too strong. It’s great for savory recipes, though. Enjoy!

    PS One reason I used white rice is that Karina has developed an allergy to brown rice but can still tolerate white rice…

  10. [...] Here are some of my other riffs on spinach-garlic Pies.. Dairy Free Spinach Pie – can be vegan with the right pie crust or the shepard’s pie topping″>Spinach Pie or Shepard’s Spinach Pie Non-vegan Spinach Tartlets using Chebe Non-vegan [...]

  11. [...] One of my favorite recipes for holidays and dinner parties has long been a certain spinach pie recipe that one of my dearest friends shared with me. This recipe combines simple ingredients with amazing results, and is a great way to enjoy your spinach! The most time consuming part of this recipes has been the rolling out of persnickety Gluten free pastry crust. I have made very tasty pie crusts using Bette Hagman’s Dream Pastry recipe, the Gluten Free Pantry’s Perfect Pie Crust Mix, or even just winging it with a regular pie crust recipe converted to be gluten free, but they are admittedly time consuming. Some time back I had the exciting idea to use a Chebe mix to make Gluten Free Chebe Spinach Tartlets with very yummy results. I was also inspired by the amazing Karina and her new allergies to make a Dairy Free Allergy friendly spinach pie recipe. But this wasn’t the end of my experimenting with this recipe. Recently DH and I discovered the extremely dangerous (for our waistline) and delicious gluten free prepared pie crusts made by the Whole Foods GF Bakehouse. They cost about $3 per crust in California, where prices are higher than the south or east coast that is closer to their dedicated baking facility, but it is a price that seems worthwhile to me due to the time and effort involved in rolling out dough. DH has been busy making apple and pumpkin pie. For the apple, because the crust doesn’t have a top crust, DH threw together a yummy crumble and topped the pie with that. It was perfect! However, I had been eying the last crust in our fridge covetously for some time, and finally decided to try using it for a savory spinach pie. I was VERY glad I did- but it really does become a health hazard, as DH stubbornly refuses to eat anything involving that much spinach (he is the first person who has not raved about my precious pie recipe, wouldn’t you know it), so I end up having to eat the whole thing myself. This is day three, and it’s a tough job but I guess I’ll just have to have the last slice for my lunch. Oh, the agony. Woe is me. Yum yum yum yum. Anyway, this is a subtle variation of previous recipes, with gently caramelized onions and fresh garlic to add extra flavor to the recipe. The Whole Foods pie crust makes this recipe so easy, if it weren’t for the calories, I might be tempted to have it every week… Oh yes, and if you don’t want the butter in the Whole Foods crust, or don’t live near a store but still don’t want to roll out a darned thing (and who can blame you!) why not try converting this into an unconventional Spinach Cottage pie? Take leftover or freshly made garlic mashed potatoes and top the spinach filling with that. DH gave the cottage pie version thumbs up- although he mostly ate the topping, tsk tsk tsk. So, here are two EASY ways to enjoy spinach pie, just in time for the holidays. Keep in mind that when hot the filling is somewhat liquidy- but when cold it’s nice and firm, so it just depends on how important structural integrity is to you. The pie tastes great hot OR cold. [...]

  12. [...] This isn’t the first time I tried making a dairy-free allergen friendly spinach pie. Check out this earlier attempt with a southern-style roux and nutritional yeast base. [...]

  13. [...] in Nutritional Yeast as a dairy free “cheese alternative.” I have never had it but it appears to be gluten free as well, the author of “Book of Yum” uses it and she is gluten free too. I will study up and [...]

  14. [...] I have lots of recipes using nutritional yeast: Un-chicken Roasted Vegetable Soup with nutritional yeast Nutritional yeast gravy Yum nutritional yeast sauce Nutritional Yeast Coated Baked Tofu Strips Pan Fried Southern Fried Nutritional Yeast Tofu Mashed Cauliflower with Nutritional Yeast Cheesiness Dairy-Free Cheesy Nutritional Yeast Spinach Pie [...]

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