Easy vegan halloumi & spinach borek are a twist on Turkish filo parcels, which are perfect for lunch (and lunchboxes) with a salad.
Let's start by saying this cheese is called hellim in Turkey and not halloumi.
Halloumi is actually the Greek name for the salty cheese in these parcels, but as that's not a familiar word to most people, I decided to call this halloumi borek, then explain here in the post.
Of course, it's a vegan version of hellim (or halloumi) I use, which is meltier than the original, but still so good in this borek.
- 💭 Filo pastry
- 💭 Tips to get the best from filo pastry
- 🧀 Vegan Halloumi cheese & vegan Feta cheese
- 🥗 How to wilt spinach
- 🥗 Can you use frozen spinach?
- 📋 What you need to make vegan halloumi and spinach borek
- 📖 Variations on Halloumi Borek
- 📖 Additions to Halloumi Borek
- 💭 Leftover filo pastry
- 💭 Storing filo pastry parcels
- 🧾 More vegan filo pastry recipes to try
- 📋 Want new recipes delivered to your inbox?
- ⭐ Pin it for later
- 🥦 Living on the Veg
- 🧾 How to make Vegan Halloumi & Spinach Borek
- 📖 Recipe
💭 Filo pastry
These spinach and halloumi parcels are made with filo pastry.
This particular pastry is a super-thin pastry that you build in layers for a crispy finish.
Filo pastry, also called phyllo dough originates from Turkey in the 11th Century.
I've watched it being made in North Cyprus (the Turkish side) and stretched paper-thin by some very skilled ladies with the thinnest of rolling pins. They roll it into huge sheets. It's quite amazing to see.
Thankfully shop-bought filo pastry is very good quality.
💭 Tips to get the best from filo pastry
Here are a few tips to get the best results from filo pastry.
- Preheat your oven and line your baking sheets before you start.
- Make sure your fillings are prepared before you take the pastry sheets out of the fridge. You want to work quickly with them as they dry out.
- Unfold the sheets of pastry gently.
- Take what you need to use and set the rest aside.
- Wrap the waiting pastry in a clean, damp kitchen towel to keep it from drying out.
- Build it in layers. For a wetter filling or one likely to ooze, add an extra layer or two.
- Spray each sheet with spray olive oil, instead of melted butter. It works just as well and you use less.
- Once you have made your parcel (or other dish you are making) give the pastry a final spray of oil for a golden crisp finish.
🧀 Vegan Halloumi cheese & vegan Feta cheese
There are several brands that now do vegan halloumi and feta cheese.
Vegan halloumi actually grills quite well, although it does release more water than the dairy style.
When it is baked into these filo pastry cigars, it melts more than standard halloumi would.
When cooked with the feta it's more like a stretchy mozzarella. It's quite melty but still has some substance.
A very pleasing mouthfeel with a slightly salty flavour.
🥗 How to wilt spinach
No need to get a pot out to cook spinach, as it only needs to be wilted.
Pop it in a colander and rinse well, then boil the kettle and pour boiling water over the spinach to wilt it.
If you have a tap with really hot water, you can use that to wilt the spinach.
Once it has softened, rinse it with cold water (so you don't burn your hands), then squeeze as much water out as you can.
It will look like you have hardly any spinach let, but once you chop it, it will distribute through the filling well.
🥗 Can you use frozen spinach?
Yes, you can definitely use frozen spinach to make these vegan filo pastries.
Just defrost it and dry it on kitchen paper.
For a quicker defrost, pop a bundle (cube) or two in a bowl of hot water and set it aside to defrost. Once it has, just drain, then squeeze out the excess water and pat dry with kitchen paper.
📋 What you need to make vegan halloumi and spinach borek
Here are the simple ingredients you need to make these filo cigars.
- Filo pastry
- Spray oil - or melted vegan butter
- Vegan halloumi
- Vegan feta - also called vegan Greek cheese
- Vegan mayo
- Spinach - or frozen spinach
- Spring onions - also known as scallions
- Nutritional yeast - optional, but adds to the cheesy flavour and a source of Vitamin B 12.
- Chilli powder - or flakes
- Salt & Pepper
- Seeds - to decorate, you could use onion seeds, nigella seeds or poppy seeds.
📖 Variations on Halloumi Borek
Here are a few ideas for tweaking these pastry parcels.
- Feta - add grated vegan mozzarella or cheddar instead
- Spinach - you could use kale instead or even spring greens (spring cabbage)
- Spring onions - add some finely chopped shallots or red onions instead
📖 Additions to Halloumi Borek
Here are a few extras you could add to change up these tasty filo cigars.
- Grated carrot
- Finely shredded red, orange or yellow pepper
- Fresh herbs
💭 Leftover filo pastry
My box of filo pastry stated 10 sheets, but it actually had 12, this is fairly common.
I used my leftover filo sheets to make a couple of sweet pastries.
A added some peanut butter and choc chips and folded the parcels the same way, but topped them with chocolate sprinkles and a sprinkle of cinnamon instead of seeds.
You could use biscoff spread instead of peanut butter if you like.
They were seriously lush.
💭 Storing filo pastry parcels
These pastries are best served on the day you make them.
They are still tasty the next day, but won't be quite as crisp.
Once cool, store them in an airtight container lined with kitchen paper to absorb any moisture.
🧾 More vegan filo pastry recipes to try
Here are a few more filo hand pies to try.
- Easy Filo Apple Crumble Pies
- Vegan Caramel Banana Filo Hand Pies
- Vegan Cheese & Red Pepper Filo Hand Pies
- Vegan Cherry & Cream Cheese Ruffle Hand Pies
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🧾 How to make Vegan Halloumi & Spinach Borek
Step-by-step photos. Keep scrolling for the full printable recipe (with full ingredient list and nutritional info).
- Preheat the oven and line a large baking tray (scroll down for the full printable recipe).
- Wilt your spinach. I rinse mine then pour boiling water over to to wilt it, then refresh with cold water, squeeze as much water out as possible.
- Chop the wilted spinach and set aside.
- Crumble the feta into a large bowl, then grate the halloumi (hellim) and add it too.
- Add the sping onion and chopped wilted spinach.
- Add the nutritional yeast, nutmeg, chilli, mayo and salt and pepper, then mix well.
- Take your filo pastry out of the fridge, unwrap and carefully unroll.
- Cut in half down the middle of the long side, so you are left with two long piles.
- Take out the first two cut sheets and wrap the rest in a clean, damp teatowel to keep them from drying out.
- Spray the first sheet with some olive oil (or brush with melted vegan butter) and top with the second sheet.
- Spray down both long edges with oil, then add a sausage of filling near the bottom, leaving a border all the way round.
- Fold the sides over the edge of the filling.
- Tuck the bottom edge of pastry over the filling and start to roll up the pastry.
- Keep rolling until you end up with a cigar shape.
- Place on the lined tray and keep going with the rest of the filling anf filo sheets.
- Once they are all in the tray, spray with oil and top with a sprinkle of sesame, poppy or nigella seeds.
- Bake until golden and serve.
Vegan Halloumi & Spinach Borek
- 10 sheets filo pastry
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (spray) or melted vegan butter
- 100 g baby spinach or frozen spinach (see notes)
- 4 spring onions , chopped (also known as scallions)
- 100 g vegan feta
- 200 g vegan halloumi grated
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast also known as nooch
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon chilli powder or flakes
- 2 tablespoons vegan mayo
- 1 pinch salt and pepper
- 1 teaspoon onion seeds or nigella or poppy seeds
- Preheat the oven to 180c/160c fan/350f/gas mark 4 and line a large baking tray.
- Wilt your spinach. Give it a good rinse in a colander, then sit the colander in the sink and pour boiling water over the spinach to wilt it. Refresh with cold water.
- Squeeze as much of the water out of the spinach as you can, then chop it and set aside.
- Crumble the feta into a large mixing bowl, then add the grated halloumi.
- Add the spring onions and chopped wilted spinach.
- Now add the nutritional yeast, nutmeg, chilli, salt and pepper and mayo and mix well.
- Take your filo pastry out of the fridge, remove from the package and carefully unroll the sheets. Cut in half lengthways, so you have two long piles of pastry.
- Take two sheets from the pile and wrap the rest in a clean, damp teatowel, to stop it from drying out.
- Lay down one sheet, spray a light mist of oil over it (or brush with melted vegan butter), then place the second sheet on top. Spray down the long side with oil.
- Add a sausage shape of the cheese mixture to the bottom of your rectangle of pastry, leaving a border around it. About 2 generous tablespoons of mixture.
- Fold the bottom sides of the pastry over the edge of the filling and then roll the bottom of the pastry over the filling and keep rolling up the pastry until you have a cigar shape. Place on the lined sheet.
- Do the same for the rest of the filling and pastry sheets.
- When they are all made and on the tray, spray with oil and sprinkle with seeds, then bake in the pre-heated oven for 20 minutes until golden and crisp.
- See notes for leftover pastry ideas.
- Leave to cool, then serve with salad.
- If you don't have olive oil spray, you can brush the pastry with olive oil or melted vegan butter.
- Nutritional yeast (also called nooch) is optional, but gives a good flavour and is a source of vitamin B 12.
- If you have leftover sheets (my 10 sheet box had 12 sheets), you can add some peanut butter or biscoff spread and a few choc chips as a filling to make a sweet filo pastry.
- Store these pastries in a kitchen paper-lined airtight container in the fridge. They are at their crispiest when made, bit still taste good for a couple of days.