My mom’s mom, my Baba makes the best cheese pita in the world. This is an undisputed fact, it is known among everyone whoever tried it. If you have ever had burek or gibanica it is like that. The recipe calls for half a dozen eggs, a pound of brick cheese, cream cheese, and a stick of butter. My mom more often would make the spinach version, like spanakopita, when I was a kid called Zeljanica which I preferred, probably because it is fun to say (zel E on it za). It was definitely the first dish that I can recall eating my greens and liking them. It was also one of the first things that I learned to make and when I went away to school I liked to make it for potlucks because it is so delicious and easy to make and the recipe makes more than just a few people *should* eat.
After I went vegan I sadly realized I would never eat it again since there was just too much to substitute. Plus, the eggs make it puff up and I didn’t want a bunch of green muck which happened to me once before when I didn’t have the recipe right. A few weeks ago Chicago Soy Dairy sent me some mozzarella Teese and it eventually got me thinking that now I had the perfect cheese element wrapped up in front of me! I could easily replace the cream cheese with tofutti cream cheese and olive oil replaced the butter (I didn’t want to use melted earth balance but I think it would be great). The only problem was the cottage cheese and egg so I replaced both with big tofu crumbles marinated for a couple of minutes in salt and lemon juice and some pine nuts. I also thought that I would have more texture using Swiss Chard, spinach’s sturdier cousin. Then since it is spring time I added a giant leek. I really couldn’t believe how well it all turned out, I still can’t. It is just perfect, even better than I had hoped. The teese worked perfect, there is no weird taste and it is decidedly rich. I don’t want to say “you won’t believe it is vegan” but dammit, I have to! I am also excited because I have my go to potluck dish back!
The Zeljanica also works great as an easter dish, especially if you want to serve it to your Serbian Orthodox friends for American easter since they will still be fasting for another week. You can also sing along with them to this video or enjoy 3 X Love and everyone can have a laugh. You could also serve it for your equinox festival, to celebrate the opening of the first public library (in 1833, in Peterborough, NH), your 4/20 throwdown, Buddha’s birthday or for brunch. It is a dish that will work for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, appetizer, or feast. Hot or cold, it doesn’t matter.
Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes. The edges will be the first thing to burn so keep an eye on them after 20 minutes. After it has cooled you can cut it into pieces to serve cold or you can keep it whole and warm it up back in the oven if you are not serving immediately. Enjoy!