Rolled Pastry with Spinach and Feta

Ispanakli Kol Böreği

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The Turkish word kol means ‘arm’, and presumably gets into the Turkish name for this börek because each roll of pastry is bent to look like an arm coming round to hug you. It would make more sense to call this a spiral or a labyrinth, since that is how it looks when all the arms are linked together.

My maternal grandma, who came from Yugoslavia, was a master of the ‘arm börek’, and she made giant spirals to feed a large family. In later life, she used an electric börek cooker, called a drum oven, which was a cylinder with doors on the side and shelves onto which you could place multiple layers of börek.

Spinach is the traditional filling, but you can use kale, silverbeet or even minced lamb.

Ingredients

  • 250 g (9 oz) English spinach
  • 1 onion
  • 4 spring onions (scallion)
  • 120 ml (4 fl oz) sunflower or vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon chilli flakes
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried mint
  • 150 g ( oz) feta
  • 80 ml ( fl oz/ cup) milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon plain yoğurt
  • 2 sheets yufka (if you cannot buy yufka, or prefer to make your own)

Method

Wash the spinach thoroughly. Remove the stalks, then finely chop the leaves. Finely slice the onion. Wash the spring onions, then remove the roots and green outer layer. Finely chop.

Put 2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 3 minutes. Add the spring onions and cook for 3 minutes more. Add the spinach and cook for a further 3 minutes, then remove from the heat. Mix in all the herbs and spices and leave in the frying pan to cool. Grate the feta into the cooled spinach mixture.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4).

Whisk the milk, egg, yoğurt and 2 teaspoons of oil in a mixing bowl.

Unfold a sheet of yufka and slice it down the middle to create a half moon shape.

Brush a quarter of the egg mixture onto each half moon of yufka. Spread a quarter of the spinach mixture along the flat side of the half moon, making a strip about 5 cm (2 in) wide. Fold the strip over and tightly roll the yufka into a tube about 80 cm (31½ in) long.

Brush a 20 cm (8 in) wide baking tray with the remaining oil. Place the rolled börek onto the tray and pull it around into a circle, with the ends overlapping. Make another börek and join that to the inside end of the previous circle, so that it forms a smaller ring inside the first one. Add two more börek tubes so you have a spiral of smaller and smaller rings.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the börek are golden. Turn off the heat, leaving the tray in the oven, and rest for 10 minutes.

Cut across the spiral four times to make eight wedges, and serve.