Turkish Spinach and Cheese Pastry Recipe-Ispanakli Peynirli Borek
Updated: Jun 25
Pastry is a big part of Turkish home cooking. Almost all housewives are proud of their pastries. There are many different kind of pastries. In this recipe I will be making börek.
This is a great pastry for breakfast, lunch, brunch and parties. It can stay in the refrigerator couple of days and can be reheated in the oven. It also freezes well.
Börek is made with yufka dough which is the thicker version of Filo or phyllo dough.
Yufka is thicker because it is also used as simple bread like lavash or tortilla. It is always made by hand and fresh. You can also use phyllo dough but if you can find authentic yufka, that would be much better. You can buy yufka from Amazon, please see the link on the side. I will give recipe for both versions.
Börek is a popular pastry in Turkey, Greece and Balkans and is made filling layers of yufka and phyllo dough with some kind of filling. Each layer of yufka and phyllo dough is brushed with something like butter. There are different kinds of fillings: Ground beef is very popular. Then feta and spinach is also very popular filling. And in this recipe we are going to make spinach feta cheese borek which is very popular at Turkish homes.
I changed the recipes a little bit. In this recipe, I use leeks and fresh onions instead of onions. I am also using clarified butter to wash my phyllo dough. This dish is also known as Spanakopita in Greece. I actually changed things little bit through recipe here in Kokkari Cookbook of Greek Kokkari restaurant in San Francisco. I loved to eat there when I was living there. Luckily now I can cook from this beautiful cookbook.
You can adjust the ratio of spinach and cheese to be used here as you wish. The following measurements are a suggestion
If your feta cheese is too salty, you can soak it in a little water or do not add salt to the spinach mixture. The mixture may be too salty or slightly salty, depending on the cheese you used when you first made the borek. It might be hard to balance the salt level on the first time , you have to adjust your second build accordingly.
Basically I keep layering yufka and brush each layer with clarified butter and add filling and close the dough. Add nigella seeds or sesame seeds at the top and bake.
2 tbsp butter
1.5 cups leek, finely chopped
1/4 cup spring onion, finely chopped
350 grams of spinach (stems removed)
3 tbsp dill, finely chopped
225 grams of feta cheese, crumbled
1 cup clarified butter
4 yufka or 7-8 frozen phyllo dough sheets
In a large pan or saucepan, melt the butter and heat it. Cook leeks and spring onions for 3 minutes. Cut the spinach into small pieces, add to the mixture in the pan and cook it for 1 minute. We don't need to cook the spinach too much, it will be cooked in the oven anyway. Place the mixture in a large mixing bowl and allow it to cool a little. Preheat your oven to 230C/450F degrees. Add the crumbled cheese and finely chopped dill to the cooled mixture. Stir the mixture well.
Grease the tray where you are going to make the pastry with butter.
Add the first yufka dough to the tray, the dough will be larger than the tray and the dough will hang from the sides if you are using yufka. This is a situation we want, the last time we will fold this piece over bits. Rub the clarified butter with a brush into the dough. Spread the second dough on top and rub in the clarified butter again. After this dough, add half of the spinach-cheese mixture. Add the third yufka pastry on top and rub the clarified butter on it again. Add the remaining spinach and cheese mix and add the fourth dough on top, and wrap the dough hanging from the sides and cover the pastry.
USING PHYLLO(FILO) DOUGH
Since filo is thinner than yufka we will put 3 filo dough at the bottom and add the filling and then add another 2 layers and add the filling and then add the remaining filo at the top.
Spread the remaining clarified butter onto the top layer of the pastry and, if desired, sprinkle nigella and sesame seeds on top of the pastry. Cook the pastry in a pre-heated oven at 230 degrees for 12-15 minutes until the color is golden brown.