SPINACH & FETA BOREK

SPINACH & FETA BOREK

Exploding with creamy salty feta and earthy spinach with hints of fresh parsley and dill, as well as little bursts of nutty toasted pine nuts, this borek is absolutely delicious. Beautifully crisp filo on the outside with an amazingly chewy centre resulting from the filo being drizzled with a rich eggy yogurt custard.

I have always made borek, but it was not until a recent trip to Istanbul that I realized that I had been making it wrong! I basically used to just add a cheese or meat filling to layers of buttered filo and then bake in the oven. As delicious as this was, I was blown away by the texture of my first borek in Turkey. It was crisp on the outside but the filo on the inside had the most delicious chewy like texture and for the life of me I could not understand how they were able to do this. So of course, I had to try many, many, many boreks to try figuring it out!

Luckily for me, my children also fell in love with this beautiful pastry, especially from this small little restaurant / café, as they loved watching this sweet little Turkish old lady, Fatma, make it for them. She used to babble away at them and they at her as they were completely taken by her. We all were, as she was always smiling and even though we couldn’t understand her, she was always making prayers for us with her hands cupped together and especially blessing the children. On our last day she taught me how to make her borek so that I could make it for the kids at home. It really was a beautiful and humbling experience, as neither of us could understand one another but we spoke the language of food and completely understood one another.

I was finally able to understand how the beautiful chewy texture in the borek was made! It was from a buttery eggy custard that had yogurt mixed in, and this was drizzled between the layers of filo. It was incredible how something so simple could transform the borek. I also slightly adapted Fatma’s recipe, as her  borek was the traditional feta and parsley borek. I like to add spinach and dill as well as some onion, garlic and a hint of green chilli to intensify the flavour. I also like to add toasted pine nuts, as I just love them with feta. Also in her original recipe she used butter which I replaced with olive oil, as it really is a very very rich dish and so dangerously moreish that I feel a bit better knowing the butter has been cut out. There really is no difference in taste, trust me I have tried out both versions, and tested it on family and friends who also could not find any difference in taste. But if you want to keep to the traditional method, and don’t mind the extra calories, you can replace the olive oil with equal amounts of melted butter. One thing is for sure you will not be able to stop at one slice, these really are exceptional, they were after all taught to me by a very sweet Turkish lady, called Fatma!

SPINACH & FETA BOREK

December 6, 2018
: 6 - 8
: 30 min
: 1 hr

Exploding with creamy salty feta and earthy spinach with hints of fresh parsley and dill, as well as little bursts of nutty toasted pine nuts, this borek is absolutely delicious. Beautifully crisp filo on the outside with an amazingly chewy centre resulting from the filo being drizzled with a rich eggy yogurt custard.

By:

Ingredients
  • Filling:
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup (1 large) onion, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp garlic, finely crushed
  • 1 small green birds eye chilli, finely diced
  • 1 chicken or vegetable stock cube
  • 3 packed cups (675g) spinach
  • 1 cup (30g) parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 cup (40g) dill, finely chopped
  • 3 1/2 cups (500g) soft feta
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp nigella seeds (optional)
  • 24 filo sheets
  • Custard:
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • 4 large eggs (reserve 1 of the yolks for brushing top of borek)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
Directions
  • Step 1 Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F). Using olive oil, lightly brush the bottom and sides of a 40cm x 28cm baking dish or tin. (You can also divide between two baking dishes or tins if you do not have one large enough).
  • Step 2 Make Filling: In a large pan heat the olive oil and then add the onions. Sauté until soft and translucent. (If you do not cook for long enough you will get bites of onion in your borek, which will spoil the taste).
  • Step 3 Add the garlic and chilli and cook till the raw smell of the garlic has gone.
  • Step 4 Crush in the stock cube. Stirring continuously cook for further 1- 2 minutes.
  • Step 5 Add the spinach, coating as much as you can with the onion garlic mixture. Put a lid and turn off the heat allowing the spinach to wilt in the residual heat.
  • Step 6 Once spinach has completely wilted, move the pan off the hob and add the parsley and dill. Mix until fully combined.
  • Step 7 Allow the mixture to fully cool.
  • Step 8 Stir in the feta and black pepper, mixing until everything is fully combined.
  • Step 9 Make Custard: Combine all the ingredients together, and whisk until you have a smooth consistency.
  • Step 10 Assemble Borek: Lay 3 sheets of filo onto the baking dish / tin. You may need to trim the filo sheet depending on the size of your dish / tin.
  • Step 11 Drizzle the custard mixture on top liberally.
  • Step 12 Layer another 3 sheets of filo, and once again drizzle with the custard mixture.
  • Step 13 Repeat the layering and drizzling 2 more times. (You should have 4 layers of 3 filo sheets drizzled with custard).
  • Step 14 Spread the feta and spinach filling evenly.
  • Step 15 Cover with 3 sheets of filo.
  • Step 16 Drizzle the top with the custard.
  • Step 17 Layer another 3 sheets of filo and drizzle the top with the custard.
  • Step 18 Repeat with 2 more layers of 3 sheets of filo but do not drizzle the final 3 layers of filo with the custard. Try using it all before the final layer.
  • Step 19 Add approximately 1 tablespoon of water to the egg yolk and gently whisk. Brush the top of the final filo layer with the egg yolk.
  • Step 20 If using, sprinkle the top with nigella seeds.
  • Step 21 Bake in the oven for 30 – 40 minutes, until the top is crisp and golden.
  • Step 22 Cut into slices and serve whilst warm.
  • Step 23 Enjoy x



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