Spinach Borek with Apple Tahini Sauce

Spinach Borek is a great little vegan savoury appetizer than you can make up ahead of time, then pop in the oven as guests are arriving.  I made up the filling the day before and filled it right before putting it in the oven, but you could also fill and fold them up ahead of time.  Just put them in the fridge with a slightly damp towel over top.  I found this recipe in Molly Katzen’s ‘Enchanted Broccoli Forest’ years ago and have only slightly modified it.

What you need for the Spinach Borek:

2 packages frozen spinach

1/4 cup olive oil

1 large onion, chopped finely (about 1&1/2 cups)

1/2 teaspoon salt

pepper

3 cloves garlic

1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

1/3 cup fine bread crumbs

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind

1/2 cup currants

a little grated nutmeg

1 pound filo pastry

What you need for the Apple Tahini Sauce:

1/2 cup tahini

1/4 cup apple juice, or more as needed

1 & 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 clove garlic, minced

pinch of salt

1/4 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch of cayenne

How to make the spinach borek:

1. Thaw filo and spinach.  Filo needs a few hours to thaw; read the instructions on the label.  If you have it in the fridge, take it out at least one hour before you plan to use it.

2.  Heat about 1 tablespoon of the oil and fry the onion over medium heat for about 8-10 minutes.  Squeeze the excess moisture out of the spinach and add it to the onions, cooking for a few minutes.

3.  Remove from heat and add all the remaining ingredients and mix them in well.

4.  Lay out the filo and brush a little olive oil over the sheet.  Follow the diagram below to fold them up, then brush on  a little more olive oil before they go in the oven.

5.  Bake at 375F for 30 minutes.  These are great hot, and can also be served at room temperature.

How to make the tahini sauce:

1.  Use electric mixer to beat tahini for about 5 minutes.

2. Gradually add apple juice and cider vinegar.  Add more apple juice if it’s too thick.

Note:  if you don’t add it gradually it will become a blobby mess and the oil may separate, like it did for me.  I spent ages trying to bring it back to the consistency it should be.

3.  Add remaining ingredients and taste to see if you want to adjust the seasonings.

4.  You can keep this in the fridge for a few weeks, but keep in mind that it thickens up when it’s cold.  You may want to take it out of the fridge a while before serving so it has time to soften up.

This sauce is also great for a veggie dip, or a spread for crackers or bread.

Fattoush – Lebanese Salad

I love to bring this salad to picnics.  While the recipe calls for pomegranate, I also make it without it, as fresh pomegranate isn’t always available.  My local Mediterranean shop carries ground sumac and pomegranate syrup, which is much thicker and more tart than pomegranate juice.

What you need:

1/4 cup fresh spearmint, chopped

1 cup tomatoes, cut into bite sized chunks

1/2 cup cucumber, cut into bite sized chunks

1/4 cup parsley, chopped

1/2 sweet onion, chopped

whole wheat pita bread

For the dressing:

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 & 1/2 teaspoons ground sumac

1 tablespoon pomegranate syrup

1 clove garlic, chopped finely

What you do:

1.  Mix the dressing ingredients together in a bowl.

2.  Put all the veggies and herbs into a large bowl.  Pour the dressing over and allow to sit for several hours before serving.

3.  Toast the pita bread in the oven until crispy, then break it into bite sized pieces.

4.  Serve the salad topped with the pita at the last minute so it doesn’t get soggy.