This filling, adapted from a recipe in Silvena Rowe's Purple Citrus and Sweet Perfume (Ecco 2011), combines rich lamb with tangy tart apple and pomegranate molasses, pine nuts, spinach and warm spices. In this version, it's folded up in phyllo for a classic triangular borek. The yogurt/egg glaze is optional, but makes a lovely finish.
Makes 3 dozen borek
12 ounces ground lamb
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and grated
4 shallots, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses*
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound spinach
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1 16-ounce package phyllo, thawed
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1 large egg
1/4 cup milk (any kind is fine)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Meanwhile, combine the lamb, pine nuts, grated apple, shallots, garlic, cilantro, pomegranate molasses, spices and salt in a bowl.
When the water comes to a boil, add the spinach, blanch for 1 minute, then drain and squeeze dry. Chop coarsely and add to the lamb mixture. Mix well.
To assemble borek: Melt the butter. Unroll the phyllo dough, leaving the unused portion covered with a dishtowel to keep from drying out. Place a sheet of phyllo on your work surface, and brush it lightly with the melted butter. Cut it down the middle width-wise, to create two long rectangles. Fold each one in half width-wise again, to create two even skinnier rectangles. Brush again with butter.
Deena Prichep for NPR
Sheets of phyllo are folded over the filling in a triangle shape, much like folding a flag.
Sheets of phyllo are folded over the filling in a triangle shape, much like folding a flag. Deena Prichep for NPR
Place a small lump of filling (about 2 tablespoons) in the corner of each strip of phyllo. Fold over in a triangle and fold, like a flag, to form a neat triangular package. Place on a baking sheet and repeat with remaining phyllo and filling.
When all of the borek are shaped, mix together the yogurt, egg and milk (if you have any remaining melted butter, you can toss it in as well). Brush the borek heavily with this mixture and allow to soak in for at least 15 minutes (it will look fairly ugly, but don't worry because it will bake up nicely).
While the borek are soaking in the glaze, preheat oven to 400 degrees. When they're ready, transfer the borek to the oven and bake until golden and sizzling, about 30 minutes. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.
* Available at Middle Eastern grocery stores