Sunday, August 9, 2015

Spinach pies

Growing up we would often have borek at family functions, which is basically fried dough filled with a lightly-seasoned meat filling with onions and parsley. I doubt it's super traditional, but my family always used egg or spring roll wrappers, which makes for an incredibly crispy, hand-held snack!  I could easily eat half a dozen in one sitting...

In addition to the meat-filled ones, my mom often made a vegetarian version with spinach and feta cheese, much like a Greek spinach pie. So when I found myself with leftover egg roll wrappers, I wanted to recreate that delicious childhood snack.

Addictive spinach pies baked in egg roll wrappers
I scoured a few recipes online and from my middle eastern cookbook, and based on my personal taste preferences came up with a recipe that sounded good to me. And if I say so myself, I hit it out of the park on my first attempt!!

I baked these up to make them a bit healthier, which worked out pretty well. They definitely had a crispy bite to them, though in some spots the wrapper had a dry texture. The filling though was perfection.

Baking them was definitely less messy and made them a healthier alternative, though I won't liethey're so much better when they're fried in oil. :) You just cannot replace that uber crispy, cracklin' dough in an oven (though if anyone out there has tips for me, I'm all ears).

And if you're wondering how to roll these suckers up, I've made a handy-dandy GIF tutorial for you!

The first step that I didn't photograph was to cut your wrappers into squares (mine where slightly rectangular, so I cut off ~1/2" to make them square). But don't throw away those scraps! Fry them up in a thin layer of and top with cinnamon sugar for a yummy treat.

A handy tip when working with egg roll wrappers: make sure to always keep them covered with a dish towel, both when they're in the package and after you've filled and rolled them up. The wrapers are like phyllo dough and can dry out very quickly.

Once you're done with each egg roll, place cut side down on a baking sheet (again, keep them covered with a dish towel as you finish the batch).

Yours in re-making foods that bring back the memories,

Spinach pie borek, adapted from my memories of my mom's recipe, a variety of websites, and The Complete Middle East Cookbook
Makes ~12 borek.

Note: A lot of recipes I saw also add parsley to the dill. I didn't try it, as I don't remember my mom doing it that way, but if you have some parsley around I'm sure it'll be delicious as well. Somewhere around 1/4 cup chopped would be good. The egg is optional as some recipes called for it and others didn't, and I can't remember if I included it or not in mine! Pretty sure my mom would always use an egg. :)

1 pound spinach, frozen and thawed
1/2 cup finely chopped green onions, green and white parts (~3-4 scallions)
8 oz feta cheese, ~2 cups crumbled
1/2 oz parmesan, ~1/4 cup shredded
1/3 cup chopped dill (must be fresh, not dried), ~small bunch
1 large egg, lightly beaten (optional)
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp kosher salt

To assemble
egg roll wrappers, cut into squares*
small bowl with water (for sealing the wrappers)

*Mine were a bit rectangular, so after cutting into squares don't throw away that strip of wrapper. Just fry it in a bit of oil and sprinkle with some cinnamon sugar. Best way to use up the leftovers!

  1. If baking your egg rolls, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Squeeze the thawed spinach very well to remove as much moisture as you can. Roughly chop.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl combine all your filling ingredients.
  4. Prepare your egg roll wrappers by cutting them into squares, if needed. Make sure to keep them covered with a dish towel to preven them from drying out.
  5. Now it's time to roll your borek! See my GIF above for a visual on how to wrap. But for a written step by step:
    1. Place wrapper with point facing you (ie, diamond, not a square)
    2. Dip your finger in water and wet all 4 edges of the wrapper (~1/2")
    3. Add 3 TBSP of your filling (1/4 cup) horizontally across the center of wrapper, making sure to not fill all the way to the edge. (A mini scoop works perfect for this job!)
    4. Wrap up the bottom edge of your wrapper and tuck under your filling.
    5. Fold over the left side, then the right side of your wrapper, pressing each side to seal.
    6. Flip your egg roll up once, then once more to finish the wrap. Make sure the roll is properly sealed. (You can dip your finger in water and dampen the flap a bit more if it isn't laying flat.)
  6.  Place seal-side down on a foil- or parchment-lined baking sheet and cover with a dish towel. Repeat until you're done with all the rolls, making sure to keep them covered to prevent them from drying out.
  7. GENEROUSLY grease both sides of your borek with olive oil, and bake (seal-side down) for 10 minutes. Note: I found that I had to brush the borek with oil a few times as they were drying out in the oven instead of getting crispy. I probably could have done this even more than I did.
  8. Flip over to the other side, and bake an additional ~10 minutes.


Riya Singh said...

Very nice post, impressive. its quite different from other posts. Thanks for sharing.
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