Growing up I remember large gatherings with extended family at my grandparents house. My grandparents on my father’s side were the only grandparents I ever knew. My grandfather, Ghidoo provided the Lebanese food culture and my grandmother the Italian.
While no one has ever replicated Sitoo’s meatballs, my parents and aunts and uncles have had more success with recreating the Lebanese food we love. Tabouleh salad, hummus, meat pies, grape leaves and spinach pies – or as they call them in Taste of Beirut, spinach turnovers.
When my parents were in town earlier this summer we made delicious meat pies, but I have never attempted to make any savory pie on my own. When I saw spinach pies on the cover of Taste of Beirut, I knew exactly what I wanted to make first. I can’t wait to try the other recipes, too.
We shape our meat pies in the same way. For us we just change the stuffing from lamb to spinach when we make the vegetarian pies. I wanted to capture the folding technique which basically forms each pie or turnover into a pyramid shape.
When it comes time to bake, I love lining my cookie sheets with my silpat baking mat – nothing sticks to this thing.
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 tsp sugar
- 3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 lbs fresh spinach
- 4 large onions
- ¼ cup ground sumac or allspice
- 1 tbsp salt plus more as needed
- 1 tsp pepper black or white
- ⅓ cup olive oil extra virgin
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ⅓ cup pine nuts soaked in water for one hour (optional)
- Combine the flour, salt and sugar in a stand mixer on low speed. Slowly pour in the oil.
- Add the water and knead at low speed for about 5-10 minutes.
- Once the dough forms a ball and has peeled away from the bowl it is ready. If too dry, add water and if too wet add flour.
- Cut the dough into six sections and roll each into a ball. Place on a floured surface and cover with a towel while you work on the stuffing.
- Soak the pine nuts in water for an hour.
- Meanwhile, chop the spinach coarsely with the stems. Place the spinach and the onions in a large colander and sprinkle with sumac, salt and pepper. Set over the sink and squeeze the moisture from the mix. Transfer to a large bowl.
- Mix the oil and lemon juice in a small bowl. Pour the dressing over the spinach mix until it moistened but no more than that. If the mix is too wet, it causes the turnovers to open up.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Roll out the dough out thinly on a floured counter, one ball at a time. Cut rounds with a large round 3-4 inch cutter or you can use a bowl and a knife.
- Place one tablespoon of stuffing in each round. Lift the edges on two sides at the top and close.
- Then lift the other side and cinch with the other seam to form a pyramid.
- Place onto a cookie sheet with a liner, or a greased cookie sheet. Brush the tops with olive oil and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve the pies at room temperature.
My pies took a bit longer to bake and they were difficult to brown so I turned on the broiler for a few minutes at the end. If you do this do not walk away - make sure you watch the pies until they're just browned.
This is only one of the amazing recipes in Taste of Beirut. This recipe was reprinted with permission.