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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