I’m writing this blog post in my sick bed right now. Or ok, more like recovering bed because the peak of flu passed and I am indeed on the path of recovery. And I can breathe again. And I feel like eating again, dreaming of pastries like this one.
So, a few months ago, I published a similar recipe with almost same ingredients but different shape: phyllo triangles. This recipe today is a slightly faster version of it, because you don’t have to individually shape each pastry.
This kind of pastry or “börek” making is fast, easy and can be applied with many different fillings. If you have a pack of phyllo, you’re good to go. Just look at what you have available in the fridge, from cheese to vegetables, and put whatever you have available in the pastry. You just need to learn – or even create your own way of – how to stack phyllo sheets and you need to make them moist so that they stick to each other and not get all dry.
In my non-vegan pastries, I use an egg / oil / yogurt mixture to moisten the phyllo layers and I use non-dairy milk / oil mixture for my vegan ones. If you don’t have yogurt available and you are not trying to do it vegan, you can also use regular milk. As long as you understand the logic behind it, you can play with all these easily according to your wishes and what you have available.
This version of the spinach pastry in this blog post is a more common way of making spinach pastry in Turkish cuisine, rather than the triangular version which is more Greek. In Turkey, this kind of pastry is generally done with fresh phyllo in circular shape, which is maybe not as thin as baklava dough. The one I am using here is baklava dough since I can only find that in Turkish market, and frankly I like it better. Even when I go to Turkey to visit family, if I want to make a pastry for them, I find baklava sheets from the local market.
You can also use frozen phyllo sheets found in any regular supermarket (though, the smaller Alepa stores do not always have them). Frozen sheets are a bit harder to use because you need to know how to thaw it properly and it takes time of course. But if that is the only phyllo you can find, then go ahead.
(makes about 20-24 slices in a 20×30 dish)
To keep the layers moist:
3 tbsp yogurt (or milk)
4 tbsp vegetable oil, plus a bit more to grease the oven dish
some water in room temperature (to thin the mixture up) – explained in step 3
If you want to do a vegan version, the ingredients for moistening the layers:
3 tbsp non-dairy milk
4 tbsp vegetable oil (olive oil is best actually)
some water in room temperature to thin it up
For the pastry:
2 tbsp olive oil
3 medium onions, diced
500 gr. spinach, frozen and thawed (I mostly actually use canned spinach), you can also use fresh spinach
200 gr. crumbled feta (or 200 gr. crumbled or cubed tofu if you are going vegan)
1 tsp salt (check how salty your feta is, and decide on the amount of salt you add accordingly)
15 phyllo sheets*
6-8 small butter cubes (or vegan butter cubes for vegan option) to put on top of the pastry before baking (optional)
*This is the amount of phyllo sheets in 1 baklava dough pack I buy from Turkish market in Itäeskus. If you have a couple more or fewer sheets, it’s fine too, you just distribute what you have in the dish accordingly.
1. Prepare the onion and spinach mixture with the instructions in my other blog post here. Lightly grease your oven dish with vegetable oil. Preheat the oven to 200C.
2. In a small bowl, put all the ingredients except water for moistening the layers and whisk well.
3. Add water. The amount of water used for this depends on how dense your mixture is without water. You need to add water gradually. The resulting mixture should be not too dense but not too liquid either.
4. Add feta (or tofu) and salt (if you need it) to spinach and onion mixture and mix.
5. (Before we start spreading the phyllo sheets on the dish: Remember, I am using a pack of 15 sheets. If you have fewer sheets, adjust your amount of sheets accordingly.) Put 1 sheet of phyllo on your oven and gently press it so that it sticks to the dish and takes it shape. Lightly brush a little liquid mixture on the phyllo.
6. Put another sheet of phyllo on top and repeat the same steps.
7. Loosely fold 4 sheets one by one and put next to each other in 1 layer inside the dish covering all the surface. Generously brush each one with liquid mixture.
8. Spread half of the spinach filling on the phyllo layers.
9. Repeat step 7 on top of the spinach filling layer.
10. Spread the remaining filling on the phyllo layers.
11. Repeat step 7 with 3 sheets.
12. Cover the whole thing with 2 remaining layers of phyllo, moistening with liquid mixture after each layer.
13. Fold the parts of phyllo hanging out of the oven dish on to the pastry and brush with liquid in between each layer to make them stick.
14. If you want a nice buttery taste, put 6-8 mini cubes of butter on top (you can omit this if you don’t want butter, or you can put fewer cubes than recommended). Put the pastry in the oven, in medium rack and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the you get a nice, crispy, slightly browned top. Let the pastry cool down a little in the dish after it is baked, then gently loosen it from the dish and transfer to a plate or a tray. Let it cool about half an hour at least and then cut and serve. Enjoy!