Friday, October 5, 2012

Vegan MoFo - Stopover 5 - Bosnia-Herzegovina

I'm not sure what the chance of bordering countries being randomly selected in the first week are but it happened to me! After stopping off at Croatia a couple of days ago, here I am back on it's doorstep in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The cuisine is described as being influenced by Turkish, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Central Europe which is quite a large mixture when you think about it, so like Croatia there were plenty of options for me to choose from.

The dish I was particularly drawn to was a type of burek called zeljanica, traditionally filled with spinach, cottage cheese, sour cream and eggs. The only problem with this meal was how to manage such a mammoth project on a work night. Some of the traditional recipes I looked at mentioned that you should set aside an afternoon for leisurely burek making. After further googling I discovered it is also served as a filo encased pie, similar to a Greek spanakopita.

When it came to making vegan replacements I was a bit slack with this recipe. I didn't have any vegan sour cream on hand nor did I have forethought to soak cashews for my preferred style of home-made sour cream. Instead I whacked a heap of ingredients in the food processor and taste tested the mixture in between pulsing. You'll notice that I included fresh and frozen spinach in this recipe which was due to having a small amount of fresh spinach that needed using up otherwise I would have used one or the other. Bosnian salads were stated to be fairly simple and usually made up of lettuce, tomato, cucumber, onion and capsicum. This combination is what I served on the side dressed simply with some balsamic vinegar.

Regardless of the authenticity of this, it actually turned out to be very flavoursome and the meal was enjoyed by all of us. Burek making is now on my long cooking to-do list and will have to wait for a lazy weekend.


150g baby spinach leaves
1 x 250g frozen spinach, defrosted
6 spring onions (scallions), roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
500g firm tofu, drained
2 teaspoons salt
½ cup nutritional yeast flakes
2 flax eggs (2 tablespoons ground flaxseed mixed with 6 tablespoons water)
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons dairy-free margarine
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 sheets filo pastry (I find the fresh sheets are easier to use than frozen ones)

Preheat oven to 180C.

Steam the baby spinach until just wilted. Allow it cool slightly then combine with the defrosted spinach in a colander and squeeze out as much moisture out as possible. Place the spinach, spring onions, garlic, tofu, salt, nutritional yeast flakes, flax eggs and lemon juice in a food processor and pulse until all the ingredients are broken down and combined thoroughly. You may need to stop and scrape down the sides once or twice.

Melt the dairy-free margarine and mix in the olive oil. Using a pastry brush, grease a 24 cm pie dish with the margarine/oil mixture. Place a sheet of filo pastry in the pie dish, tucking it gently into the corners then brush lightly with the margarine/oil mixture (don’t worry if your sheets are overhanging the tin). Repeat this for a further 3 sheets then spoon in the contents of the food processor bowl and smooth out the top of the mixture. Complete the pie by layering the remaining sheets on top, brushing the margarine/oil mixture between each layer. Fold any overhanging pieces into the centre of the pie and press down gently.

Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes. The top of the pie may brown rather quickly, don’t be tempted to take it out early as the sides and bottom will still be soggy.


Did you know?

There are a group of naturally formed pyramids in a Bosnian town called Visoko which caused an international media frenzy in 2005. There were claims that they were man-made and the largest ancient pyramids on earth which was later proven to be a hoax.

Do you want to know where else I've been this month? Click here for the round up.


  1. Mmm, that phyllo looks delicious (I will just have to enjoy it via the photo) and it's funny that you ended back up in the same area of the world!

    1. Thanks, it is funny I ended up next door so soon out of all of the countries!

  2. Wow, your burek looks fantastic. I love phyllo stuffed with anything creamy and spinachy.

    1. Thanks jojo, I love that combination too and it's so easy to make these types of creamy fillings with tofu and nooch.

  3. I love the idea of having an afternoon to make burek. My experients with filo have been anything but leisurely - normally waving around sheets of pastry and trying to get them filled before they dry out.

    Definitely agree about the creamy-spinachy combo - looks great!

    1. I love having a spare afternoon on a weekend to work on a cooking project and I can see myself enjoying a burek session some time in the future.

      Filo can be tricky to work with, I cover the sheets with a tea towel to prevent them drying out and try to work quickly. My preference is to make a big pie rather than small filo pastries.

  4. I'm glad I'm not the only one who is sometimes defeated by too little time and too many dishes (or too time consuming dishes)! This looks very impressive for a work night and I am loving these 'Did you know' sections too :)

    1. Time challenges are everywhere at the moment and I expect they will be for the rest of October! At least I'm not alone there! Glad you like the trivia section too, I'm trying to mix it up a bit every day.

  5. love how you just threw together this sort of filling - I must try a vegan version one of these days as I prefer tofu to dairy - and I love a dish that doesn't need a leisurely afternoon!

    1. I had a similar filling in mind that I made for spanakopita recently so I based it off that really and did a bit of adding this and that along the way. I like these fillings as they are nice and light and the speed factor is helpful too.

  6. I looove Zeljanica, I make a vegan version sometimes too!