Fatayer bi Sabanegh: Spinach Triangles

Some recipes are absolutely synonymous with a certain culture. Everybody knows and loves them. Every family, every village, every city has their own recipe for the dish, borrowed from someone they know and love.

Fatayer is a classic example. These popular spinach pastries are a staple within the sea of mezze at the Middle Eastern table, every family adding the thumbprint that makes theirs, theirs.

This recipe is my Teta’s – my grandmother’s – so to me, it is perfect in every way. The dough is crisp on the outside and springy between the teeth. The spinach is lemony but not lip-pursing, punctuated by soft pine and walnuts. Nostalgia swells with every bite.

Fatayer are made using olive oil dough very similar to that of the sfeeha and mana’eesh. It’s a low maintenance dough that needs only one rising. It yields a crispy pastry with the faintly fruity aroma of the olives, and contrary to what we might imagine, they emerge from the oven dry and soft, not oily at all.

Daunting at first, the folding into triangles is actually quite easy after the first few tries. Put on a bit of music and the time will fly by. Or, if you’re going for authenticity, a few soap operas fussing in the background will do.


FATAYER BI SABANEGH: SPINACH TRIANGLES
Makes ~20 pastries

Provisions:
For the dough
   3 cups plain flour
   1/2 cup olive oil
   1/4 tsp salt
   1/2 tbsp yeast, dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water
   1/2 cup water
For the filling
   1/2 kg (1 lb) fresh baby spinach
   1 small onion, diced
   1/4 cup pine nuts
   1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
   1/4 cup olive oil
   1/4 cup lemon juice
   Generous pinch each: salt, black pepper, cinnamon
   Optional: 1/4 cup raisins

Method:
Dissolve the yeast in the 1/4 cup wam water and set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, add the oil, and mix well with your fingertips. Add the yeast and remaining 1/2 cup water, and mix well again, until a sticky dough forms.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead well, adding a sprinkle of flour as needed, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a damp tea towel and set in a warm place to rise until doubled in size.

While the dough is rising, make the spinach filling. Finely chop the spinach leaves and add to a bowl with the salt. “Knead” the spinach and salt together until the spinach is well coated. Place in a colander and rinse well. Squeeze excess moisture from the spinach with paper towels or wrapped tightly in cheesecloth.

Saute the onions in a drop of olive oil over medium-low heat until translucent (not brown). Add to the spinach, along with the remaining ingredients: pine nuts, walnuts, olive oil, lemon juice, and spices. Mix well.

Preheat oven to 180C / 350F.

On a floured surface, roll out the dough to about 1/2 centimeter thickness. Using a biscuit cutter or a drinking glass (what I use), cut as many even circles out as possible. Re-roll the remaining dough and repeat.

Place a full spoon of spinach and nut mixture in the centre of each pastry round. Using your thumbs and index fingers, raise 3 “edges” of the circle to meet in the middle. Pinch the center meeting point, and then down each crease to seal. Voila! Triangle shape.

Brush each triangle lightly with a egg wash (or omit for vegan version), and bake 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with extra lemon wedges.

  • Bryan Oon

    Ooo was this what I had at Manakish? It was beautiful!!!

  • http://twitter.com/RosasYummyYums Rosa May

    Scrumptious! That is a speciality I adore.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  • http://profiles.google.com/susanlightfoot21 Susan Moran

    These look so good, and your description of the flavors is beautiful and convincing!

  • http://darjeelingdreams.blogspot.com/ Joyti

    Oh, those look delicious. Yum!

  • Teresa

    And that they’re so our make them the perfect comfort food, doesn’t it? Like a yummy “welcome home”.
    Thank you for sharing yours.

  • http://nuhasofiyan.blogspot.com/ Nuha

    these are definitely a staple in my house..made them last week ( but i don’t put nuts in mine) and today I’m making za3tar and cheese :-)

  • http://discoveringcandace.blogspot.com/ Candace

    If only I could get past my fear of yeast, I would make these.  I love pastry and spinach so much.  These look delicious, Yasmeen!

  • Soma

    I am so loving the filling here and the little cute shapes.

  • http://wayfaringchocolate.com/ Hannah

    That was such a beautifully-written introduction to this recipe, Yasmeen! Thank you for sharing. Was Teti your grandmother’s name, or is it a word for grandmother?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11637278501455738531 Shulie

    Gasp these fatayer looks so good. Just delicious. Reminds me of the Arab pastries in Old Jaffa.

  • Paola Yevenes

    These are just the type of yummies that I wouldn’t be able to resist eating just one.  I would need to have another one.  And another one.  And maybe just one more.

    I love the way you write, Yasmeen.  I could see your Teta working the dough while I was reading.  Just beautiful.

  • Anna @ The Littlest Anchovy

    What a wonderful story. I love dishes that evoke a memory. These look beautiful Yasmeen :)

  • http://mykeuken.blogspot.com/ Lisa H

    Wonderful treat especially from Grandma :D

  • http://www.strayedtable.com/ Liz

    Love these, and will now be able to make them.  Thanks for posting the recipe

  • Baker Street

    Love the idea and love your story! :) 

  • http://tete-a-tete4food.blogspot.com/ Miss Conversationalist

    Yasmeen, I love the stories behind each of your posts and the recipes are always so inviting, please see my blog http://tete-a-tete4food.blogspot.com for a surprise!

  • http://www.ichigoshortcake.com/ Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake

    Ahhh the story is making me reminisce about what I had as a child and the things that my grandma used to make for us all.
    Love your recipe too, spinach is so delicious!

  • http://thehungryexcavator.com/ Winston

    YUMMY, Yas!! This looks absolutely delicious. Something I can totally imagine popping in my mouth until the whole batch is gone, seriously. LOVE that it was passed down to you from your Teta, am sure it reminded you of her each time you made and ate this dish. I’m at a stage in my life where I’m trying to remember my late Grandma as much as possible through the foods she used to feed me too. Thanks for sharing this! =)

  • http://applesundermybed.blogspot.com/ Heidi – applesundermybed

    Beautiful recipe, thank you so much for sharing!
    Heidi xo

  • http://www.wholepromise.blogspot.com/ Sherilyn@Wholepromise

    These sound amazing! I can only imagine how good they were.  Hope you are well…

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