Spinach fatayir are a family favorite. My husband's grandmother made legendary fatayir, and while her recipe may be lost forever, my father-in-law claims these are as close as he has ever tasted. There are a few tricks to know before getting started, but the most important is tasting the filling before assembly. Adjust salt and lemon to taste, remembering that the acidity of lemon juice dissipates with heat, so some of the tartness is lost through baking; we like our spinach pies with a kick of tart so I often add more lemon juice to compensate. Salt is the other component of note, once that filling is wrapped in dough, it is too late to add anything, so taste before filling and adjust as desired.
There are a few other tricks as well, noted in the how-to method with pictures below. The basic recipe is as follows:
2 lbs fresh or frozen whole leaf spinach
1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, chopped fine
1-2 leeks, chopped (can substitute shallot or onion)
1 bunch parsley, minced
5-6 green onions, white and some green stem, minced
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
juice of 1 lemon (or more to taste)
1/2 cup oil (half margarine/butter, half olive oil) melted
If using fresh spinach, it should be chopped and sauteed lightly in a pan with a bit of olive oil to release the water, just until it wilts. Remove to plate and allow to cool before squeezing any remaining water out by hand. Frozen spinach should be thawed and then squeezed by hand to extract as much water as possible, chop lightly. Place spinach in a large bowl.
Heat oil in a large fry pan and add onion and leek/shallot and saute until translucent. Remove to bowl with spinach and proceed to add all remaining ingredients, with the exception of the melted oil. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
See folding methods below. Brush with melted oil. Bake 18-20 minutes at 400-degrees
|Fatayir made by dividing the dough into balls, flattening to circle shape and then filling each.|
|Fatayir made by rolling the dough thin and cutting the shape with a cookie cutter before filling.|
The recipe as written will make 24-30 fatayir using the rolling dough method with a 4 1/4-inch circle cookie cutter and 1/4 cup spinach filling in each.The method for folding is the same and since I prefer the more nontraditional method, most of the pictures below illustrate the rolling dough method unless otherwise indicated.
ORTwo dozen fatayir with the method of dividing the dough into 24 equal dough balls, rolling, flattening, or stretching the balls flat to at least 5-inch circles and then filling them with 1/3 cup filling.
|Place 1/4 cup of filling on each circle, but move quickly so the dough does not dry out. If it does, simply dampen the edge of the circle with your finger to encourage it to stick as you fold the triangles.|
|Take the remaining flap and pull the middle section toward the folded dough, again being careful as to not let the spinach filling come in contact with the edges that are being folded and pinched together.|
|A perfectly folded fatayir takes some practice. Even after 15+ years of making them, I rarely get them all folded as perfectly as the one in the picture. Tell your loved ones to eat the ugly ones first (I bet they don't complain.)|
|Brush the fatayir generously with melted oil, both now before the baking and again just before they are done to give them a more beautiful golden brown color and to enhance the flavor.|
Serve warm or at room temperature with a wedge of lemon if desired. Store leftovers in a sealed container. Fatayir can be reheated in a 425-degree oven for 5-7 minutes with excellent results.