The variety of savoury and sweet pastries in the Middle East is endless. The savoury ones are generally prepared with puff and flaky pastry doughs or with a traditional paper-thin flat bread called 'yufka' in Turkey and 'ouarka' in Morocco but mainly known as 'fila' throughout the rest of the region. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, ranging from half moons, tiny kayaks and rolled cigars to square packages and triangles.
500 g/1 lb. fresh spinach leaves, trimmed, washed and drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 onions, chopped
3 generous tablespoons pine nuts
freshly squeezed juice of 1 unwaxed lemon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
150 g/5 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
A small bunch of fresh dill, .finely chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Plain/all-purpose flour, for dusting
450 g/16 oz. ready-prepared puff pastry, thawed if frozen
Extra olive oil, for brushing
10-cm/4 in. round pastry cutter
2 baking sheets lined with aluminium foil
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350° F) Gas 4.
Steam the spinach until it has softened, then drain and refresh under running cold water before squeezing out the excess liquid with your hands. Place the spinach on a wooden board and chop it coarsely.
Heat the oil and butter in a heavy-based pan and stir in the onion to soften. Add 2 tablespoons of the pine nuts and cook for 2-3 minutes until both the onions and pine nuts begin to turn golden. Stir in the spinach with the lemon juice and allspice and lightly fold in the crumbled feta and dill. Season the mixture with salt and pepper and leave to cool.
Lightly dust a surface with flour and roll the pastry into a thin sheet. Using a pastry cutter or the rim of a cup, cut out as many 10 cm/4 in. rounds as you can and pile them up, lightly dusting them with flour. Take each round and spoon a little of the spinach mixture in the middle. Pull up the sides to make a pyramid by pinching the edges with your fingertips. It does not matter if one of the sides opens during cooking to reveal the filling; that is part of their appeal.
Line the baking sheets with aluminium foil and place the pastries on them. Brush the tops with a little oil and bake them in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, until golden brown.
Roughly 5 minutes before taking the pastries out of the oven, spread the remaining tablespoon of pine nuts onto a small piece of aluminium foil and toast them in the oven until they turn golden brown. Once you have placed the little pastries on a plate, sprinkle the toasted pine nuts over them and serve while they are still hot.
This recipe is from Saffron & Sumac by Ghillie Başan. To get more great blog posts like this one - direct to your inbox – be sure to sign up to our mailing list here.