Hye Thyme Cafe: Spinach Bouregs (Spanakopita)

Welcome to the Hy
e Thyme Cafe. Although not all of my recipes are Armenian, the name is a little nod to my Armenian grandmother who is no longer with us. The Hye refers to all things related to her homeland, and she represents all things food-related to me, so the two just seemed to go together. I can't even claim that my Armenian recipes are truly Armenian, since Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Lebanon, Syria, and even Egypt share so many foods that they've all sort of morphed into one over thousands of years.

Whether you like to cook, bake, have never done either, or just like to play with your food...come on in and join me! :)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Spinach Bouregs (Spanakopita)

Spinach Bouregs (Spanakopita) : Hye Thyme Cafe

Let me start by making two apologies. The first is for not being around/posting much lately. There has just been other stuff going on, and I haven't been in the kitchen much. I don't expect that to really change until probably sometime in August, so don't give up on me. I'll be back to posting more regularly soon. The second apology is for not having posted this sooner! I was thinking about these yesterday, but I noticed that I had never posted the recipe. I can only assume I was waiting to make them again to take better pictures. The problem with that is that I have made them a few times since and didn't take pictures, thinking I had already posted it. Sigh ...  I'll try to remember to take pictures next time and update this post.  :)

The one thing to really pay attention to is removing as much liquid as you can from the spinach. Growing up, my mother and grandmother made these all the time - sometimes the triangles, other times layered in a tray like Paklava and cut into squares, so I never bothered. A year or so after I had moved out on my own, I was putting together a baby shower for a friend and decided to make these as one of the food items. Talk about an EPIC FAIL! I didn't squeeze out enough of the liquid, so it turned into a gummy mess! I was soooooooo mad at myself.

If you have enough time to plan ahead, you can defrost the spinach overnight in the fridge over a strainer. Sometimes I'll run water over it to defrost it, but then my hands cramp from it still being so cold when I try to squeeze it. I know a lot of people will twist it in a clean dishcloth or a cheesecloth, but I just think that makes a mess, and I'd probably end up with strings in my spinach or something. I finally realized it makes things a whole lot easier if you pop it in the microwave for a minute or two. That draws out a lot of the liquid and you can squeeze it without getting frostbite!

When I was living in New Orleans, one of the attorneys I worked with (she was Greek) brought me some Spanakopita that her daughter had made. It was very good and had a kick to it that I really liked. I asked for the recipe a few times but never got it.  I'm still not sure if she kept forgetting or if it was a recipe they didn't want to part with. In any event, I couldn't pinpoint what their heat source was, but since then, I've been adding a few Pepperoncini peppers into my filling. 

6 eggs
1/2 lb feta cheese
1 c cottage cheese
1/2 c grated Romano cheese
3 boxes frozen chopped spinach
1 med onion, chopped fine
3 T olive oil
3 T fresh chopped parsley
2 T fresh chopped mint
1 T farina (cream of wheat)
3-4 Pepperoncini peppers, minced (optional)
salt and pepper
1 lb phyllo dough
clarified butter (see link to Paklava above)

Beat the eggs in a large bowl, then stir in the cheeses.

Defrost and squeeze the spinach (very) dry, then blend into the cheese mixture.

Stir in the onion, olive oil, parsley, mint, farina (and minced Pepperoncini if using), and season with a little salt and pepper.

If you want to fold them into triangles, you can see that step-by-step on my Cheese Boureg post. 

If you would prefer squares, brush your tray with clarified butter and layer two sheets of phyllo, butter again and repeat until you have used about 1/3 of the dough. Spread the spinach mixture over the phyllo, then continue layering/buttering until you run out of dough. You don't have to cut all the way through, but you will want to at least score the top layers to allow steam to escape. You can follow through with those cuts once it has come out of the oven and cooled a bit. I will never understand why some people don't cut it until it's done. Not only does that hold in the steam, but then your top layers will crumble apart when you cut into them, because they're dry. Same thing with Paklava; some people wait until it's cooked to cut it. That makes even less sense to me since the whole thing is dry. As least here you have moisture. But I digress ...

Bake at 350 for about 45" until golden. The triangles will cook faster, so just keep an eye on them.  

These and the Cheese Bouregs are great to have in the freezer for a quick appetizer or even alongside a salad for a meal. If you are making a tray of the squares, you might want to plan to assemble two. That way, you can cook one now and have the other in the freezer for another occasion. With the triangles, most people seem to freeze them on a tray, then transfer them to a zip-top bag or other container. I have always just layered them in waxed paper and stacked them directly into the zip-top (or foil). Just be sure to allow for extra time if baking directly out of the freezer.

Spinach Bouregs (Spanakopita) : Hye Thyme Cafe


  1. Replies
    1. If you think that looks good, you'd really be drooling if my photo skills were up to par! ;)

      These are definitely one of my favorites! I keep meaning to try it with artichoke sometime (or a combo).

  2. Just planted swiss chard, and am hoping for a good crop. Do you think I could substitute swiss chard for spinach in the Cheese Beoregs? After all, they're not called Spanaklu Beoreg!

    1. I don't know what you would call them, but I'm sure it would be good. I'm thinking of trying kale. Spinach and artichoke is another combo I'll have to try, but I've been on a kale kick lately.

  3. These really sound great, Chris, and it seems like there are endless opportunities to tweak them to taste. (TALU)

    1. When I attached this one to today's TALU, I had planned to leave a comment without thinking about how it didn't work that way!! I was thinking this was a good post with Thanksgiving coming up, and if you want to cut the time, you can layer it instead of doing the triangles. Just use 10-12 sheets for the bottom layer (buttering every second), add the filling, then repeat the layering to the top of the pan, slice (or at least score and re-cut later) and bake.

  4. I love how specific and detailed you were about this. I'm the kind of person who needs to be told to preheat the oven and once mixed up baking soda and baking powder (which made for some very interesting muffins). So things like "squeeze all the liquid out of the spinach" are important tips for me. I wouldn't even have realized what was wrong - I just wouldn't have made it again.

    1. Thank you for saying that! Some people actually get annoyed by it, but from my point of view, not everyone know already. That's why I'm always repeating things like how to clarify butter. If I was to write this recipe out as a card for myself, it would be a whole lot shorter because I've done it so many times. That's the problem with inheriting recipes - there is always a step or ingredient the original problem knew about but never felt the need to write down. :(

  5. I think I've had this before. It was a Mediterranean restaurant and it was called something else and it seemed like it had vinegar in it. But it SURE was delicious. I think I am going to stick to the professionals on this one.

    1. OMG, you just gave me a bad flashback! When I first moved to NY, I went to a restaurant and saw these on the menu, so I placed an order. Like you mentioned, they had vinegar in them. I was sooooooooo not prepared for that! Another place here deep fries them. That is AWESOME!

  6. Ohhh, Chris, this looks so delicious! I love that you're sharing recipes from your grandmother, So special! Thanks for linking up with the TALU!

    1. I wish I had more recipes from her ... or more Armenian ones anyhow. The problem is that a lot of the recipes she wrote out were from the later years and for more common items. A lot of her Armenian recipes (or at least I'm assuming that's what they are) are written in little notebooks in Armenian. Some day, I'll manage to get them translated.


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