Byrek (also called Börek, burek, or lakror) is a family of baked or fried filled pastries made of a thin flaky dough known as yufka (or phyllo). Börek is also very popular in the cuisines of Balkans, especially in North Africa and throughout the former Ottoman Empire. In Tirana, the most common fillings include a mixture of cheese, eggs and spinach, but it can also include meat, or a sweet filling of pumpkin. It is traditionally made with several layers of dough that has been thinly rolled out by hand. The final form can either be individual triangles of byrek, especially from street vendors, or one large byrek that is cut into smaller pieces. Byrek is traditional to southern Albania but is made throughout the country with variations.
Albanian Spinach Pie (Byrek me Spinaq)
- 1 cup oil, preferably olive oil
- 1½ packets (or about 30) pastry leaves (filo dough)
- 1½ pounds spinach, chopped
- 1 cup diced feta cheese
- ½ cup chopped green onions
- 2 eggs
- salt, half teaspoon
Brush the baking pan with some of the oil, and start laying the pastry leaves inside.
First, lay two leaves, sprinkle or brush with oil, then lay two other leaves, and repeat the procedure until half of the leaves are laid.
Make sure that they cover the pan by hanging them about one inch over the edges of the pan.
Sprinkle spinach with salt, then mix well by hand.
Add the feta cheese, oil, onions, eggs and salt, and spread this mixture over the already laid pastry leaves.
Finish by covering the spinach with the rest of the pastry leaves repeating the first-half procedure and then roll the hanging edges of the bottom leaves over the pie (think of a pizza crust), sprinkle top with oil and bake moderately at 350°F for about 45 minutes, or until golden brown.
Serve hot, accompanied with buttermilk, or beaten yogurt, thinned down in cold water or with chilled stewed prunes.
Sometimes a green salad adds to the meal!
Enjoy this Albanian Spinach Pie!
Have you tried?
You can replace spinach with large amounts of fresh basil and parsley, finely chopped. Or, you can also use a tin of spinach puree with the same tasty outcomes!