This humble spinach pie from the Middle East is anything but ordinary, it’s a wonderful package of vegetable goodness.
My aunt Huda makes the best ones that I have ever tasted, and lucky for me, she would always make them for me.
Whenever she heard that I was back in town she would rush over to see me with a tray of the most delicious spinach turnovers.
She makes a very light dough, with a nice crispy bottom that blends so well I can’t stand it, and have to eat a whole bunch of them until I am full to the gills, and then I’m annoyed I can’t fit anymore down my throat!
Spinach is a wonderful food, tasty, and good for you too, full of nutrients, vitamins, and fiber, helps you have a healthier life.
A wonder food like this should definitely be a part of your regular diet, like it is in the Middle East, and Mediterranean diets.
Green leafy vegetables are rich in antioxidants, and are a must in a good diet, I will always include them in my meals.
I remember watching Popeye cartoons as a kid, and no sooner had Popeye downed his can of spinach than his muscles would bulge and he would every fight saving his beloved Olive Oyl from danger.
Well it turns out that spinach actually contains some compounds called CO-Q10 which is all about strengthening muscles, so sometimes fiction has some truth to it.
How to Make Fatayer
Before anything else you will need to make the dough, I usually just use my basic dough recipe to make these.
Once the dough is formed, has been allowed to double in size, been punched down, has risen again, and been punched down again.
I will divide the dough into equal parts, and place on parchment paper so they don’t stick to the counter.
You can use fresh chopped spinach, but I find frozen chopped spinach easier to use.
I will thaw the spinach add it to sauteed onions, then cook in olive oil with salt, black pepper, and a couple of other ingredients until the spinach is no longer bright green, and is done.
Once the filling is done, I remove it from the heat and leave it to cool before adding the cheese.
Take each ball of dough and using a rolling pin, roll flat until you have a flat disc shape, place a small spoonful of filling in the middle of the dough and fold over edges to form a triangle.
Pinch the ends, and place on a baking sheet, bake in the oven until brown, serve with yogurt.
How to Fold Fatayer
There are a couple of ways to fold fatayer that are common Middle Eastern methods.
The first is to hold the front two sides of the circle of dough, fold one back over the filling and then fold the other piece of it, finally take the flap of dough at the back and fold it over the other two.
Pinch each corner of the triangle to be sure that the dough sticks to itself so as not to let the filling leak out 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 a ridge on the top of the turnover.
With this method it is good to put a little water with your finger around the outer edge of the dough circle so that it better sticks to itself.
Can I Freeze Fatayer?
Yes you can, in fact these pies were made for freezing in my opinion.
They freeze very well and can be thawed in the fridge, or popped straight into the oven, there are times when I will par bake them, meaning I will cook them for only twenty minutes so I can freeze them and finish cooking later.
By keeping them in the freezer you will always have a meal or snack that is just a few minutes from serving.
Fatayer also has a version with a ground lamb filling that is very delicious and well worth making along with the spinach version for your family and friends.
I will be putting this recipe on the website soon, so stay tuned.
Equipment I Used
Spinach Fatayer Recipe
Spinach Fatayer (Lebanese Spinach Pie)
For the Dough
- Place flour in a large bowl, add salt and yeast, whisk until well mixed.
- Create a well in the middle of the flour mixture, pour olive oil in the bowl, combine with water.
- 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.
- Set aside while you make the filling.
For the Filling
- Thaw the spinach in a colander.
- Once thawed squeeze out as much water as possible with your hands.
- Add olive oil to a pot, place over low to medium heat.
- Add onions. Saute until translucent. About 10 minutes.
- Add the spinach, salt, black pepper, sumac, stir and cook for about ten minutes.
- Add lemon juice, stir, cover and lower heat to low, cook for 15 minutes, stirring at intervals.
- Remove once spinach has lost its bright green color, let cool.
- Add feta cheese and mix thoroughly.
- 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.
- Fold edges of the dough over each other creating a triangle shape.
- Pinch the ends of the triangle to the dough sticks together.
- Place pies onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
- Place in the oven for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove from the oven, and tray, and cool on a cooling rack.