Mezze & Dolce

Light Mediterranean Meals Paired with Ample Dessert

Mezze: Spinach Borek

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Over the holidays, I needed to come up with a crowd-pleasing appetizer to bring to a family gathering. Mind you, this is for my extended family which includes a vegan, some food allergies, and at least a picky eater or two. I racked my brain for a bit about what I could bring that would also give me a chance to share the flavors we celebrate through Mezze & Dolce. And then it hit me…a flood of childhood memories spent making spinach borek during the holidays with a gaggle of aunts. Gathered in the kitchen with my mother and her sisters, all of them working carefully with the delicate phyllo dough to create my Armenian uncle’s favorite treats; me barely tall enough to reach the counter, trying to lend a hand with a pastry brush {not much has changed today}.

Spinach borek, or spanikopita to the Greeks, are buttery crisp pastry triangles filled with spinach, cheese, and spices. They are similar in concept to the Spinach Fatayer that Jaime shared a few posts ago; the main difference being the dough.  In this recipe, I’ve taken some liberties with an old family tradition to make these a little healthier and to eliminate the dairy. You’ll have to flex your patience in working with the phyllo dough {it can be finicky}, but the end result is most certainly worth it. Rich and tangy, these are best served warm straight from the oven.

As for my family holiday party, these flew off the table in record time. They were such a hit, I made a second batch the following day. –jacque

Ingredients

1 medium-sized yellow onion, finely chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon dill, fresh or dry

1 package firm tofu, drained

1 cup cashews, finely chopped

1 package frozen phyllo dough, thawed

1/2 cup vegan margarine {I use Earth Balance}

Directions

1. Heat olive oil in medium-sized saute pan; cook onions and garlic until translucent.

2. Mix in spinach, lemon juice, and dill and remove pan from heat.

3. Crumble tofu and add to the mixture. You can use a fork or your hands for this.

4. Use a food processor to finely chop cashews. Incorporate into the filling.

5. Preheat oven to 350 and grease a baking sheet. Take a deep breath and get ready to work with your phyllo dough.

6. Phyllo is very delicate and dries out rather quickly. You need to keep it moist enough to work with but not so wet that it gets overly sticky. It’s the goldilocks of dough. Gently unroll the dough and lay it on a flat surface {I use an estra baking sheet}. Cover the dough with a slightly damp towel to prevent it from drying out as you’ll be working with one sheet of dough at a time.

7. Melt your margarine and get out your pastry brush. It’s time! Start by laying a sheet of dough flat on a clean surface. Fold the dough onto itself lengthwise in thirds. Brush with a light coat of margarine.

8. Place a generous tablespoon of filling at one end of the strip of dough with enough slack so that you can start folding. Fold the bottom right corner up to form a triangle, tucking the mixture within. Continue folding the dough in a triangular formation {as in the poorly lit photos below}.

9. Once your triangle shape is complete, press the dough gently to create a seal. Brush the top with another coat of margarine and place on baking sheet. Phyllo, fill, fold, repeat!

10. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the outer shells are golden brown. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

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3 comments on “Mezze: Spinach Borek

  1. Vanessa-Jane Chapman
    January 23, 2013

    Ooh yes, these remind me of the ones my grandmother used to make! Have you ever tried making your own filo pastry? (or phyllo – I hadn’t realised it could be spelled in three different ways, I looked it up!). I haven’t myself, personally I think life is too short to make your own, but my aunt used to and she swore it was so much nicer.

    • mezzeanddolce
      January 24, 2013

      Fantastic, Vanessa-Jane! We had a feeling you might like this post. I’ve never made phyllo from scratch. Perhaps an idea for a future post?!?

  2. Pingback: Mezze: Lentil, Mozzarella and Nectarine Salad | Mezze & Dolce

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This entry was posted on January 22, 2013 by in Appetizers/Dips, Mezze, Side Dishes and tagged , , , .

About Jacque & Jaime

Jaime and Jacque are two gals who discovered a mutual passion for Mediterranean flavors and ingredients and never turned back. They started Mezze & Dolce to share this love, their recipes, and their inspirations with the world. Follow them at www.mezzeanddolce.com.

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