Sunday, February 27, 2011

Spinach and Feta Borek (Ispanaklı ve Beyaz Peynirli Börek)

Two years ago, I made a spinach and feta börek and prepared the recipe and all the pictures step by step and never got around to publishing it. Just recently, I made this börek and documented it again. This time, I made a few changes in the recipe and I decided to publish this version instead of the previous one. The taste of this one surpassed the previous one, so I decided to publish this version.

Note: The Phyllo dough sheets can be found in the frozen section of most markets. If the Pyhllo sheets are too big for the tray or Pyrex dish you are using, the phyllo sheets can be folded to reach the size of the baking dish.

1 package Phyllo sheets
½ cup yogurt
½ cup olive oil
1 egg

For the Filling:

2 bunches fresh spinach (approximately 2 lb)
2 cloves of garlic (chopped fine)
2 shallots (chopped fine)
1 cup feta cheese (crumbled)
¼ cup olive oil
½ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp salt (if the feta cheese is not too salty)
Pinch of black sesame seeds

Preparation of Filling:

Wash the spinach thoroughly. In a large pot, boil water and add the spinach in the boiled water for 2 minutes. Do not keep them in the boiled water long as their texture will become mushy. Immediately run the spinach under cold water in order to stop the cooking process. Create small balls from the spinach and give them a nice squeeze to remove the excess water in the spinach. Chop each spinach ball coarsely and with your hands, separate the spinach leaves from each other as sticking together will hinder the salt and spices to get inside the spinach.

Heat olive oil in a large pan. Add onions and garlic and sauté for 2-4 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Add the spinach to the onions and garlic. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the cheese for the filling and sauté for 5-6 minutes. Make sure the salt, cumin, black and cayenne peppers are distributed evenly in the spinach.

Remove the spinach filling from heat and let it cool. When the filling cools down, add the crumbled feta cheese. If the feta is very salty, no salt is needed for the filling as feta cheese may compensate for the salt.

Putting All Ingredients Together:

In a deep bowl, add the yogurt, olive oil and egg. Mix vigorously until all three ingredients are mixed well.

Using a brush, spread a small amount of the yogurt-olive oil-egg mixture in a large Pyrex dish. This is to prevent the Phyllo sheets from sticking to the Pyrex dish.

Open the Phyllo dough package. Place a damp cloth on top so that the Phyllo sheets do not dry out. These are the same dough sheets that are used for baklava.

Place one sheet of the Phyllo dough in the Pyrex dish. Dip the brush in the yogurt-olive oil-egg mixture and brush the Phyllo sheet. Do this one by one until half of the Phyllo sheets are used up. After half of the phyllo sheets are layered, spread the spinach filling on top. Add another sheet of the phyllo sheet on top of the filling and brush with the yogurt-olive oil-egg mixture. Continue the process of brushing each Phyllo sheet and placing them on top of each other until all the Phyllo sheets are used up. If you have any of the yogurt-olive oil-egg mixture left over, pour it on top and spread it evenly with a brush. The result will be a spinach filling in the middle of the layered phyllo sheets. Half of the phyllo sheets will be in the bottom of the filling and the other half will be on top of the filling.Sprinkle black sesame seeds on top.

Bake at 350º F in the middle rack of the oven for 40 minutes or until golden brown. Let it cool before cutting, otherwise the bottom part of the börek may get soggy.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Joy said...

Yum! Classic!

mvmaithai said...

I love Borek and learned to make it from a dear Turkish friend. The sesame seed looks interesting. Does it actually add flavor?

Mediterranean Turkish Cook said...

mvmaithai, yes sesame seeds do actually add a nice nutty flavor. I like to add it to bread too.

ayseavci said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ayseavci said...

I am newly attempting turkish food and found when i made my borek it didnt go dolfen and crisp like your but the edges started to burn.. how do i go about solving this?

Mediterranean Turkish Cook said...

Hi ayseavci, sorry for the late response and thanks for trying my recipe. I am sorry to hear the problem you had with the borek. What makes this borek take the glossy golden color is the egg, yogurt and olive oil mixture which is brushed on top of the borek. If the amount of this mixture is proportional, the oven may not be heating evenly. From my past experience, I have noticed that some ovens do not heat evenly which can cause certain parts of the borek to cook faster than other parts. If you think that the oven heats evenly, then may be the borek wasn’t left long enough in the oven. If that is the case, wait until it takes a golden color and then pull it out. I have made this recipe a few times and it has always worked the same way. I hope next time it will work out. Thanks for your feedback.


Nesli Yilmaz said...


I love your blogs, thank you for the great recipes :-)

I followed the recipe it was very tasty but bottom didn't cook very well, top was cooking too much. How can I prevent this?

Many thanks

Mediterranean Turkish Cook said...

Hi Nesli. Thanks. Sorry you had this problem. Again, I think different ovens may heat differently and may have uneven heat distribution. I would make sure that the borek is in the middle rack of the oven. Cover it with aluminum foil to prevent cooking too much on top. Towards the end of the baking, maybe 10 minutes before taking it out (you may need to bake it a few minutes longer if the bottom is not cooking well enough), you can remove it so it can get the golden color. Try that and see if that helps. Good luck.