This is, without a doubt, the best spinach and feta börek I have ever eaten, anywhere. Either from my own fair hands or from someone else’s. I am frankly embarrassed at what I have served people in the past under the name of “börek”. Sorry about that!
The secret is rolling out the pastry with a pasta machine. I thought my rolling skills were sufficient, that the pieces of pastry I had created were thin enough. Not even close. I think my ‘thin’ sheets were actually about 5 times too thick. So a pasta machine is the answer, rolling the pastry out incrementally to the 6th or 7th setting. The 7th setting is best, but the dough is quite hard to work with at that thickness.
With the delicacy of the dough in mind, be sure to keep everything well floured. Don’t go crazy or anything, it’s always best to use a little flour as possible to complete the task at hand, just sprinkle a light coating of flour over everything regularly, bearing in mind this dough is very keen to stick to both the pasta rollers and your worktop. Both of these scenarios are extremely frustrating.
Rest assured though, that the neatness of the pastry is not important as everything will be folded over and coiled around – don’t worry about tears (unless their yours!) or misshapen pastry. However, to further mitigate against sticking, roll out and fill only one sheet of pastry at a time. Be sure to keep the rest of the dough loosely covered while you work so it doesn’t dry out.
It might seem like there’s a lot of butter in this recipe and that’s because there is! It is very important for keeping the dough moist during baking, indeed part of the problem with my previous attempts at börek was stingy butter application. You could substitute the butter for olive oil for a healthier option, but this will definitely alter the flavour. It will still be marvellous, just a little different.
For tips on how to squeeze all the water out of wilted spinach, click here. For tips on how to choose the tastiest feta for this dish, click here. For tips on how to make the best spinach and feta börek ever… See this post!
- half batch of homemade filo (phyllo) pastry, recipe here (best made the day before)
- 600g frozen spinach, defrosted, squeezed dry & chopped
- 200g mushrooms, sliced thinly and sautéed
- 2 handfuls olives (c. 20), pitted & chopped
- 100g goat cheese, chopped
- 150g feta, chopped
- 2 + 1 eggs
- large handful parsley, chopped
- other herbs, to taste
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- fresh chilli, to taste
- a little salt, to taste
- lots of black pepper, to taste
- 100g butter, melted
- 2 heaped tbsp Turkish yoghurt
- Make the glaze by whisking one egg and the Turkish yoghurt together with a fork. With a pastry brush, use a little of the melted butter to grease the bottom of your baking dishes or trays.
- Make the filling by mixing together all the other ingredients except the melted butter and the filo dough.
- Cut the filo pastry into eight pieces. Working one piece at a time, shape a piece of filo dough as best you can into a rough rectangle and start running it through the pasta machine. Keeping it continually floured, roll the dough out working from settings 1 - 6/7 (it is best at setting 7, but is fragile and quite hard to handle).
- Lay the long, thin dough sheet on a lightly floured worktop and distribute about an eighth of the filling down the middle. Fold one long edge over the filling, then roll it over onto the other edge to make a rough tube.
- Cut the tube in half (this will make it easier to lift) and coil each piece in the bottom of a buttered baking dish, working from the outside in. When the bottom of the dish is completely filled (one layer only), brush the whole lot heavily with butter, making sure all the pastry is coated.
- Repeat until all the dough and filling is used up. Using your pastry brush again, coat the top of all the pastry with the yoghurt-egg glaze.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes, until golden, reglazing once more about half way through.
- Can be eaten hot - straight out of the oven, at room temperature or cold - straight out of the fridge. All ways were EPIC!
- You can coil the pastry in any dish you like, or even roll them up in individual spirals on a baking sheet. I used two 35 x 25cm glass baking dishes.