Featured Recipes

Spinach and Onion Turnovers (Fatayer Sabanikh)

From Arabiyya: Recipes from the Life of an Arab in Diaspora

by Chef Reem Assil
Reem's California, San Francisco, CA

Spinach and Onion Turnovers (Fatayer Sabanikh)

Ingredients

Makes 24 turnovers

Fatayer Dough

  • ¾ cup/180ml warm water (about 100 degrees F)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons/4g active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon/4g sugar
  • 2 ¾ cups plus 1 tablespoon/385g all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 ½ teaspoons/5g kosher salt
  • ⅓ cup/80ml TRULY® Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus more for greasing the bowl

Filling

  • 12 cups/32g spinach leaves, cleaned and coarsely chopped
  • 1 ½ teaspoons/5g kosher salt
  • 2 cups/280g red onion, finely diced (about 1 small red onion)
  • ⅓ cup/80ml TRULY® Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tablespoon/15ml lemon juice (about ½ lemon)
  • ½ teaspoon/2g lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoon/18g sumac
  • ¼ teaspoon/1g freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon/0.5g ground allspice
  • ½ cup/60g toasted pine nuts or coarsely chopped toasted walnuts (optional)
  • TRULY® Extra Virgin Olive Oil for brushing the tops

EQUALLY AT HOME on the plates of vegans and meat lovers alike, spiced spinach and onion flavors burst from these pyramid-shaped, crispy-seamed turnovers. The trick to a perfect seal is to squeeze out as much moisture as possible from the spinach mixture before placing it on the dough, so that when the spinach cooks, it won’t steam and pop the pie open, exposing its innards for all to see. If your pie opens, don’t be hard on yourself. My mom never cared. The turnovers are still equally as delicious!

I always thought of fatayer as a baking affair prepared by women to be enjoyed at a big azoumeh, which in Arabic translates to “house party.” So, I was shocked the first time I saw burly men making them en masse in bakeries in Lebanon, where men hold more of the large-scale production-type jobs.

Fatayer makes a great seasonal dish as well. It can be stuffed with chard, purslane, lamb’s-quarters, or a host of greens that are often used in Lebanon. Starting with triple-washed baby spinach that is widely available and reasonably priced saves the extra step of rinsing and drying and will give you a head start on producing spinach with a minimum of water content.

Directions

Dough

In a small bowl, combine ¼ cup/60ml of the water with the yeast and sugar and set aside in a draft-free space for 10 minutes or until foamy.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl, combine the flour and salt.

To mix by hand: Using your hands, slowly drizzle in the oil until the flour forms a fine crumble. Form a well inside the crumble, add the yeast mixture and the remaining ½ cup/120ml water, and use your hands to pull the flour mixture into the wet mix a little at a time. Continue working with your hands, until you get shaggy pieces of dough. Turn out onto a flat work surface and knead until the dough is smooth, dimples, and stretches like a windowpane. This usually takes up to 10 minutes of kneading.

To mix in a stand mixer: Using the paddle attachment on low speed, slowly drizzle in the oil, until the flour forms a fine crumble. Switch to the dough hook and add the yeast mixture and the remaining ½ cup/120ml water and mix on medium speed until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, 8 to 10 minutes. You should hear the dough slap the sides of the bowl.

Form the dough into a ball. Then coat a large bowl with oil and transfer the dough into the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp dish towel and let the dough rise in a warm draft-free place for 1 ½ hours or until doubled in size. If you are not planning to use the dough right away, refrigerate for up to 12 hours, until doubled in size.

Filling

In your largest bowl, sprinkle the spinach with the salt. Rub the salt into the leaves, using your hands, and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a separate medium bowl, combine the onion with the oil, lemon juice and zest, sumac, pepper, allspice, and pine nuts.

Once the spinach has softened, scoop as much as you can hold in one hand, cup it with your other hand, and squeeze it over a sink to draw out excess water. Continue removing as much moisture as possible from the remaining spinach and then add it to the onion-spice mix until it has all been incorporated. Set aside.

Turnovers

When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and, using a bench scraper or knife, divide the dough into quarters. Cut each of the quarters into 6 pieces for a total of 24 pieces (about 25 grams each). Shape each piece into a smooth round (see page 62) and place on a sheet tray. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp dish towel and let the rounds rest for another 5 minutes.

Working with about six rounds at a time, roll out or hand-press each round on a lightly floured work surface with a floured rolling pin or floured fingers, flipping the dough and dusting beneath with flour, until the dough is ⅛ inch thick and each round is about 4 inches in diameter. Cover the remaining rounds with plastic wrap or a damp dish towel to prevent them from drying.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line an 8 by 13-inch sheet tray with parchment paper.

Mound 2 packed tablespoons of the filling in the center of each disk. Lift three edges of the circle with one hand, holding the point where they meet at the center and, with the other hand, pinch the seams together from top to bottom to form pronounced ridges (about ⅛ inch) along the seams. Make sure to pinch the seams together well to prevent the spinach from bursting out of the dough while the disks cook. If your seams are not closing, it may mean your dough has dried. Dip your finger in a bowl of water and trace the edges of the disks to hydrate. Repeat this process four more times, until all of the turnovers have been shaped.

turnover folding folding_demonstration

Place the turnovers on the prepared sheet tray ¼ inch apart, brush the ridges with oil to accentuate the crunch, and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the sides turn golden and the ridges darken to a caramel color. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Once cooled, the turnovers can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for 3 months and can be reheated, directly from the freezer, in the oven.

Reprinted with permission from Arabiyya: Recipes from the Life of an Arab in Diaspora by Reem Assil, copyright © 2022.
Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.”
Photographs copyright © 2022 by Alanna Hale
Illustrations copyright © 2022 by Cece Carpio

Arabiyya: Recipes from the Life of an Arab in Diaspora by Reem Assil is available for purchase via Omnivore Books or any online bookseller of your choice.