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Lebanese Spinach Pies, Fatayer Recipe

Lebanese Spinach Pies, Fatayer

These little pies filled with spinach are a Lebanese favorite. They're also wonderful with classic fillings like spiced meat or squash. Fatayar freezes well in a ziplock freezer bag and can be reheated from frozen, or simply thaw to room temperature and eat. Serve fatayar warm or room temperature as an appetizer, or for a meal with a salad.

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE DOUGH:
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup warm water
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup canola oil
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

FOR THE SPINACH FILLING:
8 cups fresh spinach, OR 2 lbs. frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry
1 1/2 cups yellow onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon or allspice
1/2 cup pine nuts or chopped walnuts, toasted

INSTRUCTIONS

MAKE THE DOUGH:
Proof the yeast by dissolving it in ¼ cup of the warm water with the sugar and letting it activate for about 10 minutes.

Whisk together the flour and salt in a mixer bowl or medium bowl. Create a well in the center and add the oil and proofed yeast mixture. Using a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment or by hand, slowly work the wet ingredients into the dry, adding 1/2 cup of water slowly. Add more of the water only as necessary to create a sticky dough.

Knead by hand or with the dough hook in the mixer until the dough is very soft, smooth, and tacky/sticky to the touch (but it should not leave dough on your fingers when touched). The kneading by hand can be awkward at first because it's such a wet mess, but as you knead, the dough will firm up a bit and absorb all of the water.

In a clean bowl at least twice the size of the dough, lightly coat the dough and the sides of the bowl with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot until doubled, about 90 minutes. Take care not to overproof the dough.

MAKE THE FATAYAR:
If using fresh spinach, sprinkle with the salt in a medium bowl. Set aside to macerate for 10 minutes, then squeeze the spinach of as much juice as possible. Discard juice. If using frozen spinach, squeeze as much juice as possible, and discard juice.

Combine the spinach and onion. Just before filling the pastry, add cinnamon or allspice, pepper, and lemon juice. If using frozen spinach, add salt (fresh has already been salted to remove the juice). Taste and adjust seasoning.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two heavy baking sheets with parchment paper or foil.

Roll half of the dough out on a dry work surface to 1/8-inch thickness (see how here). Gently lift the dough from the edges to allow for contraction. Cut dough into 4-inch rounds. Cover with plastic wrap. Knead together the scraps, cover with plastic, and set aside.

Fill the rounds of dough by placing a heaping tablespoon of filling in the center of each round. Be careful not to let the filling touch the edges of the dough where it will be gathered together and closed. A good way to keep the filling in the center is to lower the spoon with the filling over the center of the dough (parallel to it) and use your fingers to slide the filling off the spoon and into the center of the dough circle. Place three nuts on top of the filling; this method works better than adding the nuts to the filling because it’s easier to be sure each fatayar has enough nuts.

Bring three sides of the dough together in the center over the filling and pinch into a triangle. Close the dough firmly.

Place the fatayar on the baking sheets and generously brush or spray the dough with olive oil. Bake in the middle of the oven for 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Set the oven on convection bake for the last 5 minutes of baking to encourage browning.

Repeat the process with the other half of the dough, then with the scraps that have been kneaded together and left to rest for a few minutes before rolling out.

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