Spinach and Feta Bourek

There are so many bourek variations out there. Especially here in Melbourne, it’s like a bourek melting pot of Greek, Turkish and Lebanese renditions. Some are heavier on the spinach, some are all cheese. A few are light and crispy, others quite bready. I’ve made it a point to taste as many as possible – mostly because I can’t curb my spinach-feta addiction – but also to see if I can find a favorite. Somehow I almost always come back to my original recipe: light crispy phyllo dough stuffed with bold feta, mild spinach and a few extras…

I grew up eating bourek. My parents entertain a lot, so mom would make spinach or meat bourek when friends or family came over. In more recent years she started adding a bit of shredded mozzarella to the mix. Traditional? Not quite. But the melted mozzarella acts as a binding agent, and also gives the filling a bit of pull between your teeth to make these little treats a bit of reinforcement. She/I usually brush each sheet with olive oil. This time I used a quality extra virgin olive oil spray, which sped up the process and also cut out a fair bit of extra oil with equally crispy and flavorful results.

The recipe, of course, requires phyllo… the pastry with an unfairly nasty reputation of finickiness. Each box differs slightly, and yes, it can be moody. But if there was ever a recipe to experiment with phyllo, this is it. The layers do not have to be perfect; since the pastry is folded several times (and has a few layers of reinforcement) the finished product won’t show holes or tears. You can also work around the 2-hour thaw time by removing the phyllo from the box, and microwaving on high for 30 seconds in the plastic wrapper. If you have time to spare, do it the “real” way, but I tried the nuking technique and it worked a treat. Once thawed, lay the phyllo out on a clean work surface and cover with plastic wrap, then a damp tea towel to keep it from drying out. That’s it!

When I think of lunch/dinner/cocktail parties, my mind wanders to bourek. So, if you invite me to a party and there’s finger food involved, chances are I’ll bring along a few of these. These little pockets are delicious on their own, or as part a full mezze (small plates) spread. Or try them alongside a crisp baby greens salad for a light and refreshing lunch.

SPINACH AND FETA BOUREK

Provisions:
1 block (220g / 7.70oz) feta
1 package frozen chopped spinach leaves (approx 220g / 7.7oz), thawed and thoroughly drained
1/3 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
1 egg, gently whisked
1 tsp dill
Fresh black pepper, to taste
9 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
Olive oil spray

Method:
Thaw your phyllo dough: you can either leaving it to rest 2 hours at room temperature, or microwave it for 30 seconds on high in the plastic wrapper. Preheat oven to 180C / 350F.

Crumble the feta in a medium sized bowl. Add the mozzarella, egg, dill and pepper, tossing to combine. Place the thawed spinach in a cheesecloth (or between paper towels), and squeeze thoroughly to drain all excess moisture – too much water will make for soggy pastry. Loosen the packed spinach with your fingers and sprinkle into the cheese mixture, tossing again to evenly incorporate with the egg.

Remove the phyllo from its package and place on a clean work surface. Cover it with plastic wrap or a clean tea towel to prevent over drying. Carefully peel off one sheet from the stack, spray both sides with olive oil, and lay width-wise in front of you. Repeat with two more sheets to make a base of three phyllo sheets, each one sprayed with olive oil on both sides.

Line up five rounded tablespoons of filling alongside the bottom of the sheet (closest to you). Slice vertically in between each bit of filling to make five columns. Fold one bottom corner over the filling to the opposite side, to form a triangle. Continue “rolling” the pastry diagonally, maintaining the triangle shape, until you reach the end of the pastry column. Place the finished bourek on a sprayed or lined baking sheet, and cover with plastic wrap until the sheet is filled and ready to bake.

Repeat the phyllo laying, filling and folding process three times (using three sheets of sprayed phyllo each time, and five tablespoons of filling) to make 15 boureks. Bake 20-25 minutes until lightly golden brown, and place on a wire rack to cool.

Tip: these boureks will store for several days in an airtight container or simply on a plate covered with aluminum foil. They will lose their crispiness while stored, but quickly toasting them in the oven or on a hot pan (no oil necessary) will restore all the original crunch.

Audio pairing: Chinese Man, “I’ve Got That Tune”

  • http://www.miracrisp.com/ Mira

    Bourek! How I miss it! I agree, a light dough stuffed with cheese, mild spinach and a few extras is the best one! Cheese boureks are my favorite even though meat ones aren’t bad either. I have a craving for a real Bosnian bourek now! :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02265240462060082738 leaf (the indolent cook)

    Spinach and feta just go so well together, and I love your addition of mozzarella. Oh cheesy goodness.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01911921579763949068 Two fit and fun gals

    ive had bourek once- it was quite oily! but it was nice nonetheless :D

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16676377432748642552 ♥ Nadine ♥

    Hmmm, mouth-watering. :) Spinach and Feta is a good combination, I need to try that one…

    Here’s to a happy rest of the week. XO.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03024227562100654617 NJ

    This sounds great – I have pinned this on pinterest to try! :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02722720171083290211 girlichef

    Beautiful, flaky bites!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15613979981355164437 Phoebe

    These have fond memories of childhood for me too! My Yiayia always adds ricotta and a little bit of tasty chees to her fetta mix. The combo creates a kind of solidness that is really sweet and tasty.
    I love reading your blog too by the way!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14896399490504189192 PFx

    Ouuu… so that’s what it’s called. Bourek.
    Mozzarella sounds like a great touch! I think I’d love a little pinch of fresh nutmeg on mine. ;)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08820908415315702778 KY

    YUM!! That sounds and looks absolutely delish! I have been eating spinach, blue cheese crumbles, feta, and bacon piece salads EVERY SINGLE DAY for the past month! Delish combo!

  • http://www.ledelicieux.com/ Jennifer (Delicieux)

    I love the look of your little cheesey parcels. I love spinach and feta together.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09712039473488252840 Anh

    that microwave trick is GOOD!! Thanks!!

  • http://ooh-look.blogspot.com/ OohLookBel

    Yummo! Your bourek looks so delicious. I’ve seen these as spanakopita triangles and pastizzi, as well.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00267762026583525273 Foodness Gracious

    I could eat like a ton of these! They sound tasty. Your pictures are looking good, any secrets you want to share about how you take them, I feel like I’m struggling in that dept..
    Take care.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07860926520623322800 Simply_Tea

    Thanks so much for dropping into The Simply Tea Blog – i love these little morsels! Delish! My sister-in-law also moved from Holland last year to marry my brother! Seems these dutch girls like the aussie blokes! ;-) hope your enjoying Oz!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17133232352924060797 Joanne

    I love that these are like mini spanakopitas! Anything with that spinach feta mix sounds so good to me, and these are adorable!

  • http://msihua.com/ msihua

    I’m not sure if I’ve ever eaten bourek before… I know.. living in Melb all these years, I must have, just didn’t know that I did! Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.flavourfiesta.com/ Divya Yadava

    These are adorable! I’ve never tried bourek before – I’ll need to try them out sometime.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16949599141577685866 Nuha

    okay, this is going on my list of things i love (but always forget to make)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16327344027557036250 Candace

    I have got to have some of these today. Love spinach and feta so much that I actually crave it. I have never heard of bourek but it seems to be like spanokopita which I literally cannot get enough of…ever. Thank you, Yasmeen, for sharing your wonderful recipes. I’ve got to go catch up with what I’ve been missing around here this summer. Have a fantastic weekend!

  • http://www.ladybehindthecurtain.com/ ladybehindthecurtain.com

    Thank you so much for stopping by Cast Party Wednesday last week. I really appreciate you sharing your recipe with us. I hope you will join us again for another awesome party filled with yummy recipes.
    Thanks Again!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08540872180823771651 Lauren aka Ms Baklover

    Yum yum yum… I make this too but usually as a big pie in a square dish. I use puff pastry not filo and instead of mozz, use tasty cheese. I also add some short grain rice which I find helps absorb any excess moisture from the spinach and give more body. Dill is a nice touch I will have to try. An all-time fave!

  • Hanan

    Salaam Yasmeen,

    Can I ask what kind of Mozzarella did you use? Pizza one or the fresh balls?

    Thanks,
    Hanan

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