For a long time I’m curious of how böreks taste like because I have never eaten one before. I imagine it to be crispy on the outside and creamy and tangy from feta cheese. Layer upon layer of crispy phyllo enveloping lightly sauteed spinach and feta cheese. This doesn’t mean I know how to make correct böreks shape, but this one that I made was delicious. I’ve always loved Mediterranean flavor and I thought this goes well with an improvised and quick chickpea salad. A while ago I tasted chickpea salad from Food Front in Hillsdale that I thought was fantastic. They put all the things that I love in salad in one unity. I could eat salad like that forever
The dressing for the chickpea salad is nothing other than balsamic vinegar/red wine vinegar, lemon juice, a bit of minced garlic, extra-virgin olive oil, and salt and pepper. Add chickpeas, feta cheese, chopped red onion, spinach, chopped tomatoes, chopped parsley, and chopped artichoke hearts. Blend everything together and that’s it. There’s countless recipes to make salad like this and you can add or omit ingredients as you like.
This particular böreks recipe is taken from Anissa Helou‘s book, Savory Baking from the Mediterranean. A book that’s filled with various recipes from countries in the region, from pizza, flatbreads, breads, pies, tarts, and pastries. Though it lacks color photos, I trust Anissa Helou as she’s the experts on the Mediterranean and Middle East cuisines.
Lastly, this meal is fit to be in Meatless Monday movement that’s going on right now. I’ve done countless “meatless” days throughout the week for a long time already, so it’s not something that’s hard to participate.
Spinach Böreks (Ispanakli Tepsi Böregi)
For the filling:
1 pound fresh spinach
1 tablespoon exra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 medium onions, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
2 medium eggs
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
Fine kosher salt or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing the pie plate
1 1/2 tablespoons whole milk
1 medium egg
12 sheets phyllo pastry, thawed if frozen
Make the filling: Wash and drain the spinach and put it in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until just wilted. Drain and cool. Then squeeze the spinach by hand until it is very dry. Separate the leaves and set aside.
Put the olive oil, butter, and onions in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly golden. Add the spinach and cook for another minute or two. Remove the heat and stir in the 2 eggs and the feta. Season with salt and pepper to taste, return to the heat, and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until the eggs are very softly scrambled. Set the filling aside.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Mix the melted butter with the milk and 1 egg in a small bowl. Grease a 9-inch round and 1-inch deep pie plate with a little melted butter.
Place 1 sheet of phyllo across the pie plate, leaving half the sheet hanging over the edge. Keep the remaining sheets of phyllo covered with plastic wrap or kitchen towel. Brush the portion of the first sheet that is in the pie plate with milk mixture and fold the overhanging half over it; if any part of the sheet still hangs over the edge, either leave it there or trim it. Brush again with the milk mixture. Repeat the process with 4 more sheets of phyllo.
Spread the filling over the pastry. Cover with the remaining phyllo sheets, brushing each layer with milk mixture and folding the overhangs over. Pour any remaining milk mixture over the top and cut the pie, all the way to the bottom, into 4 squares.
Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until golden all over. Serve hot or warm.
Source: Savory Baking from the Mediterranean by Anissa Helou