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.
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.