A version eaten as far away as South America, known as an empanada árabe was introduced by Arab immigrants.
Spinach is a wonderful food, tasty, full of nutrients, vitamins, and fiber, that helps with a healthier life.
What is Fatayer?
Fatayer are turnover-like pastries that have their origins in the countries of the Levant.
This recipe filling is for Middle Eastern spinach fatayer.
A superfood like spinach should definitely be a part of what you regularly eat, as they do in a Mediterranean diet.
I remember watching the pipe smoking, spinach eating Popeye cartoons as a kid.
No sooner had Popeye downed his can of spinach, his muscles would bulge.
After which he would always go on to save his beloved Olive Oyl from danger!
Believe it or not, it turns out that spinach actually contains a compound called CO-Q10.
This compound is all about strengthening muscles, sometimes fiction definitely has truth to it.
How to Make Fatayer
Before anything else you need to get the pastry dough started.
The higher fat content, in the form of olive oil, is what classifies this dough as a pastry.
This dough also has milk powder which contributes to a softer dough, and an egg which will lighten the texture.
All kinds of dough can be used with slightly different effect, I’ve even seen pizza dough used.
Mix all the pastry ingredients together until a dough forms, knead gently for five minutes.
Cover and set aside at room temperature until the dough has doubled in size.
Divide the dough into equal parts, and form into balls, and place in a large bowl.
Prepare your spinach by washing, chopping and cooking down until the spinach is soft.
You will have a lot less by volume at this stage given the shrinkage.
Squeeze as much liquid out of the spinach as possible, and set aside.
Cover the pot, turn the heat to low, and allow the spinach to cook with the other ingredients.
Stir occasionally and cook until the spinach has lost its bright green color, about ten minutes.
Once the filling is done, I remove it from the heat and leave it to cool.
Feta cheese can be added at this stage if desired.
Roll each dough ball to create a flat disc shape of pastry, place a small spoonful of filling in the middle.
Fold over the edges of the dough overlapping each other to form a triangle.
Pinch the ends, and place on a baking sheet, bake in a preheated oven until golden brown.
How to Fold
There are a couple of ways to fold fatayer that are common in the Middle East.
The first is to hold the front two sides of the circle of dough, fold one back over the filling, and the other over it.
Then take the flap of dough at the back and fold it over the other two bits of dough.
Pinch each corner of the triangle so that the dough sticks to itself and does not leak filling as it cooks.
The other method is of course similar in that you are making it into a triangle shape, but there is a difference.
Instead of overlapping the dough, you pinch the ends together so that you create three ridges on the turnover.
It is typical with this method that you leave an opening in the shape of a triangle in the middle of the turnover.
When making them this way it is good to brush a little warm water around the outer edge of the dough circle to enhance stickiness. .
Can I Freeze Fatayer?
Yes you can, in fact these pies were made for freezing, and reheat incredibly well.
Thaw them in the fridge, or pop them still frozen straight into the oven.
I like to par bake some, meaning I will only partially bake them so I can freeze them and bake them off later.
By keeping them in the freezer you will always have a meal, or snack that is just a few minutes from serving.
Most often served with yogurt, this spinach fatayer recipe is well loved.
Tips for Making
- Use fresh spinach when you can, but frozen chopped spinach can also work well.
- For a richer taste add a tablespoon of pomegranate molasses to the spinach mix.
- Add toasted pine nuts to the filling for an enhanced crunch and flavor.
Spinach Fatayer Recipe
For the Dough
For the Dough
- Pulling flour in from the outside with your hand as you mix it into dough.
- Once you have your dough, cover the bowl and set aside in a warm place.
- Allow dough to rise to at least twice its size, punch down dough.
- Cut dough into equal size pieces, and roll them into balls. About 2oz each.
For the Filling
- Add 2 tbsp olive oil to a pot, place over medium heat.
- Add onions. Saute until they begin to soften. About 10 minutes.
- Add ¼ cup olive oil, stir with the onions and spices.
- Add the spinach then the lemon juice, stir, cover and lower heat to low, cook for 15 minutes, stirring at intervals.
- Remove the lid and allow the liquid to cook off, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from heat once the spinach has lost its bright green color, let cool.
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC).
- Roll out the dough balls into round shapes.
- Place a spoonful of filling in the middle of the dough circle.
- Bring dough edges together creating a triangle shape by piching the edges.
- Pinch the edges from the point of the triangle in, leaving an opening in the middle of the turnover.
- Place in the oven for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove from the oven, and tray, and cool on a cooling rack.