Fatayer are little pies popular throughout the Middle East. They can have a variety of fillings, from meat to cheese or spinach. I made a version called Fatayer bi Sabanekh, Lebanese Fatayer filled with spinach. Spelling variations may include Fatayer bil Sabanegh, Fatayer be Sabanegh, or Fatayer Bes Sabanekh. Spinach is combined with onions and seasoned with sumac, paprika, salt, pepper, and cayenne. It is lightly coated in a lemon and olive oil dressing before sealing inside circles of dough and baking until golden and flaky. Its small size makes Fatayer a perfect appetizer or light snack.
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When preparing the filling, make sure to squeeze out as much moisture as possible from the ingredients and be careful when adding the dressing. Too much water will make the Fatayer pop open and become soggy.
A few of the ingredients are optional based on taste. Some do not add yeast to their dough. If you don’t want to work with a yeast bread, just omit the yeast and ignore the rising instructions. Still let the dough sit for about an hour after making to give it a chance to rest before rolling out. I added the pine nuts, but didn’t use pomegranate molasses since I didn’t have any on hand.
When rolling the dough, make it as thin as possible.
Any remaining Fatayer can be frozen for future use. After baking, allow them to come to room temperature. Place in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet and place in freezer. Once frozen they can be transferred to a freezer bag. Use within a month. Bake in 350 degree F oven for 25-30 minutes, until cooked through and golden.
Sumac is a spice made from the berries of the sumac bush and is common in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cooking. It is available in berry or ground form. Sumac has a lightly bitter, lemony taste and a deep brownish red hue. There are no good substitutes for the flavor. I have been able to find it in the specialty section of some ethnic grocery stores and the spice section of Williams-Sonoma. Watch the ingredient list and color of sumac. It should be a deep red. Bright red spices may have added coloring and some have added salt. It is also available of Amazon: Sumac 4.0 oz by Zamouri Spices.
Fatayer bi Sabanekh (Lebanese Spinach Turnovers) Recipe
Adapted from Taste of Beirut
Fatayer bi Sabanekh (Lebanese Spinach Turnovers)
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 3/4 cup lukewarm water 105-115˚F
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose or 00 flour
- 1 cup all-purpose or pastry flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup canola or olive oil
- 1 pound spinach
- 2 medium onions 6 ounces
- 2 tablespoons sumac
- 1/2 tablespoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- pinch cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts optional
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1-2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses optional
- In a small bowl, sprinkle yeast over the water. Let sit for a minute before stirring to combine. Let sit until frothy, about 10 minutes.
- In the bowl of a large food processor fitted with a dough blade or a large bowl, combine flours, sugar, and salt. Gradually stir in the oil, then yeast with water until dough comes together. On a lightly greased surface, knead until smooth and elastic. Place in large bowl, cover, and let rest 1-2 hours.
- If using fresh spinach, head a large pan over medium heat and drizzle with about 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add spinach and cook just until wilted. Remove to colander. Once cool enough to handle, squeeze out all excess moisture. For frozen spinach, defrost and squeeze out all excess moisture.
- Finely chop the onions and place in medium bowl. Stir in the sumac, salt, paprika, black pepper, and cayenne. Let sit while you make the dressing.
- In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, olive oil, and pomegranate molasses, if using. Set aside.
- Squeeze all excess moisture from the onions. Combine the onions and pine nuts with the spinach. Lightly coat with the dressing until just moistened, not wet.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or lightly grease.
- Divide the dough in half, covering one half. On a large, oiled work surface, roll half the dough until thin, 1/16 to 1/8 of an inch. Use a 4 inch wide circle cutter to cut out the dough.
- Place about 1 tablespoon filling in the center of each circle. Pinch together 3 edges of the circle over the center of the filling. Seal down one side, then across the other to form pyramid shape. Place on prepared baking sheet and repeat with remaining circles and other half of dough.
- Bake in preheated oven until golden, 15-20 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.