Tray bake spinach and cheese filo pastry – Ispanakli, Peynirli Borek
This borek is immensely popular throughout my homeland as well as at my Turkish cookery classes. It is also my children’s favourite snack food – even the fussiest child will enjoy this borek and ask for seconds. I use filo pastry and you’ll be amazed how simple it is to make.
Turkish white cheese, beyaz peynir is traditionally used in this borek. Living abroad, it’s hard to get beyaz peynir so I use a combination of feta cheese and grated mozzarella, which work well. Serve this flavourful vegetarian borek for brunch or for lunch with a light salad or as an appetizer for a dinner party.
24 sheets of filo pastry – 48cm x 25cm/19in x 10in each sheet, thawed 200g/7oz spinach leaves, washed and pat dried
200g/7oz Turkish white cheese or feta cheese, juice drained and mashed with a fork
110g/4oz grated mozzarella
3 eggs, beaten
120ml/4fl oz milk 120ml/4fl oz water
45ml/3 tablespoons mild olive oil
30ml/2 tablespoons sesame seeds
Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4
Wash the spinach leaves, pat dry and chop roughly. Beat 2 eggs in a small bowl.
Combine the Turkish white cheese or feta cheese, grated mozzarella and two beaten eggs with the spinach leaves in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the water, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and milk.
Grease the baking tray with the remaining olive oil. Lay the pastry sheets alongside the baking tray. Open the filo sheets only when you are ready to use them and cover the rest with a slightly damp towel so that they don’t dry out.
Lay two filo sheets in the greased baking tray. Pour 2 tablespoons of the milk-olive oil-water mixture and brush all over the sheet. Repeat this layering until you reach the 12th sheet, using two filo sheets each time.
When you reached the 12th filo sheet, spread the spinach and cheese filling evenly. Continue layering the filo sheets and spreading over the milk mixture every two layers until you reach the 24th sheet.
Beat the remaining egg with a drop of olive oil and brush over the final sheet. Sprinkle sesame seeds all over the pastry.
Bake the borek in the preheated oven 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 for about 30-35 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Take the borek out of the oven and cover with flax or parchment/baking paper for 10 minutes, this will keep the borek moist.
Cut into pieces and serve warm or at room temperature.
Tips: 1)This borek freezes wonderfully. Once cooled, slice the borek and put in freezer bags and seal to freeze. You can reheat the frozen borek in a greased tray at a preheated oven at 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 for about 10 minutes. 2) You can also use your favourite cheese, mashed potato, grated courgette/zucchini as well as herbs like parsley and dill as part of the filling.
Source: Ozlem’s Turkish Table