Fatayer are like small pockets pies, or empañadas… they make the perfect appetizer and are cute, lemony and filled with spinach. There are many versions of fillings; the spinach one is very popular in Lebanon but you will also find meat or cheese options. All are delicious of course but the spinach one has a special place in our household. This is my son’s Alexander absolute favorite finger food. Every single time I ask him what he would like me to prepare for the coming week or even for his birthday… the answer in unequivocally: FATAYER!
I got the dough recipe from my mother-in-law. It is easy to prepare but needs two hours to rest. It does not include yeast or leavening agents, so it will not rise.
This recipe is divided into 4 main steps:
1: Making the dough
2: Preparing the spinach filling
3: Assembling the fatayer
Yes it takes some time to make the fatayer but I have a few very helpful shortcuts; you can prepare the spinach mixture a day in advance and keep it in the fridge until ready to use. Once assembled, you can freeze the fatayer. When ready to enjoy, just place them on a baking tray and bake in a hot oven. Voila! No need to thaw or bring to room temperature. It is super handy when you have an impromptu visitor you want to entertain (I mean… impress!). I usually double the quantities and make enough fatayer to last for a couple of events,…
Recipe credits: Rafaella Sargi
Makes about 100 Fatayer
Fatayer Dough Ingredients
3 cups All purpose flour
1 cup semolina flour
2 Tablespoons powdered milk
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/3 cup hot water
2/3 cup vegetable oil
Fatayer Dough Directions
Prep all the ingredients.
You will need a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment and plastic wrap.
Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. On low speed, let all the ingredients combine. Once the dough look homogeneous and coming off the sides of the bowl, increase the speed to medium and mix the dough for 5 additional minutes.
Form a ball and place the dough back in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for 2 hours at room temperature.
Spinach Filling Ingredients
2 lb (1 kg) of baby spinach
1 cup very small diced onions
4 teaspoon ground sumac
2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup chopped parsley
Pinch of ground allspice
2 teaspoon lemon juice
Spinach Filling Directions
Prep all the ingredients.
You will need two big bowls, food safe gloves, paper towels and a fork.
In a large bowl, place the spinach and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of sea salt. It will help draining out the water from the fresh spinach.
Wearing food safe gloves, mix the spinach until it is all wilted as if you were trying to brake the spinach leaves. You will end up with a lot of beautiful green liquid and “smashed” spinach. Work above the sink for the next step. Take a handful of spinach and press the water out of it. Use paper towels to extract as much liquid and moisture as possible. Place the drained-squeezed-spinach in a clean bowl.
Repeat this step, above the sink, until all the spinach is processed. I insist on the location ”above the sink” because it is kind of messy and I don’t want you to insult me if all your counter ends up with deep green splashes of color and spinach. You have been warned.
In the new clean bowl, with the drained-squeezed-spinach add the small diced onions, sumac, sea salt, parsley, allspice and lemon juice. Use a fork and incorporate all the ingredients to the spinach.Taste and correct the seasoning. If you need little more acid notes, add sumac and not lemon juice. Avoid turning the mixture into a watery one. You just spend some time squeezing the spinach leaves…
You will need a rolling pin and a round cookie cutter 3 inch / 7 cm.
You are going to make small pyramids of dough with a spinach filling.
Take one quarter of the dough and roll it out on a lightly floured surface. You want the dough thickness to be even and very thin. Using a round cookie cutter, make dough cutouts. Place two teaspoons of the spinach mixture at the center of each disk. Pinch the dough on one side towards its center line. Stop. It now looks like a cone… take the opposite side and bring it to the top center of the disk. Pinch all sides. Do it well to minimize the chances of the fatayer opening during the baking process… You should end up with a pyramid filled with some spinach mixture.
Repeat until with the remaining of the dough and filling.
If baking right away: place on a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 400F (200 C) for approximately 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly golden on the edges.
If freezing: place the prepared fatayer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and let the fatayer freeze completely before transferring them to an airtight container, label and keep in the freezer until ready to bake.