Spinach and Feta Cheese Burekas

Margi Lenga Kahn’s Spinach and Feta Cheese Burekas. Photo: Michael Kahn

Simplified Puff Pastry 


2½ c. unbleached all-purpose flour (360 g)

2 sticks (½ pound) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces and kept cold

2 tsp. fine sea salt

¾ c. ice water

2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Advertisement: The Grande at Chesterfield


Place flour and butter into bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle. Turn mixer to low and mix for 30 seconds or until butter is broken up in large chunks but still visible.

In a small bowl, stir salt and water together until salt dissolves. Add lemon juice to water and add this mixture to mixer bowl. Turn mixer to low and mix just until dough comes together in a rough ball; it will still be wet and sticky. Turn dough out of bowl onto a lightly floured counter. 

Using your hands, flatten dough into a 6-inch square and wrap in plastic wrap. Set dough package in refrigerator for at least 20 minutes and up to one hour.

Unwrap dough and set it onto a lightly floured countertop. Dust top of dough lightly with flour. Roll dough out into a rectangle, 18 inches by 6 inches, one long side facing you. Beginning from right side, fold a third of the dough over the center of the rectangle, then fold the remaining left third of the dough over it, like an envelope.  

Lift the dough, sprinkle countertop lightly with more flour, and turn the dough so that the open long side now faces you. Repeat this rolling, folding and turning once more and then wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes and up to an hour. You can also put it into the freezer for 15 minutes.

Unwrap dough and set onto a lightly floured countertop with open side of rectangle facing you. Repeat two more rolls-folds-turns as before, brushing excess flour from each third of the folded dough and lifting dough intermittently to make sure it is not sticking to the counter. (Dust counter with additional flour, as needed.) Rewrap dough and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes, and up to an hour.

Unwrap dough and set onto a lightly floured countertop, with long open seam facing you. Roll and fold the dough one last time. Wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour and up to one week. Dough will be ready to be used after one hour. Dough can also be wrapped well in a freezer bag and kept frozen for up to one month. To thaw, set pastry in refrigerator overnight.


Spinach and Feta Cheese Filling*


¼ c. olive oil

1 bunch green onions (scallions), ends trimmed and onions finely chopped

1 lb. fresh spinach, washed, stems trimmed and leaves finely chopped, or 1 lb. frozen chopped spinach, thawed

½ lb. cream cheese or ricotta cheese

½ lb. feta cheese

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/3 c. fine dry bread crumbs

½ c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

3 tbsp. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Coarse kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Pinch of ground nutmeg


For baking burekas:

Water, for sealing dough

Egg wash–1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tsp. water, for brushing 


Sesame seeds or poppy seeds, for sprinkling burekas


Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until just tender. Add spinach and cook just until wilted; if using frozen spinach, simply heat up with onions. Remove pan from heat and let mixture cool.

In a large bowl, thoroughly mix together ricotta or cream cheese, feta cheese, eggs, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, parsley and nutmeg. 

Pick up handfuls of reserved spinach mixture and squeeze out excess moisture over the sink. Add the squeezed spinach mixture to cheese mixture and stir to combine.


To form and bake burekas:

Position oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line two baking pans with parchment paper; set aside. Set out a small cup of water with a pastry brush.

Place puff pastry on a lightly floured countertop with long open side closest to you. Cut dough in half, vertically, rewrap one half and place it back in the refrigerator. 

Dust the top of the remaining dough with flour and roll dough out into a 12-inch square (dust counter with additional flour to keep dough from sticking to it). Using a dull knife or a pizza wheel, cut dough into nine 4-inch squares. 

Place a generous tablespoon of filling in the center of each square. Lightly brush the perimeter of each square with water and fold dough into a triangle. Use the tines of a fork and press along the perimeter of the dough to seal. Repeat with remaining squares. Set burekas one inch apart on a prepared baking sheet. Repeat process with remaining dough. 

At this point, filled burekas can be frozen for up to one month. Set a single layer of burekas onto a pan and set pan in freezer. When burekas are frozen, transfer them to freezer bags. To bake, remove burekas from freezer – do not thaw – and continue with recipe. You may need to increase baking time by a few minutes.

Lightly brush the tops of the burekas with egg wash. Poke the top of each bureka with a fork three times, and sprinkle each one with seeds.

Bake at 425 degrees for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown and puffy. Immediately transfer burekas from pan to a cooling rack. 

Store cooled burekas in a plastic bag at room temperature for up to two days. Reheat in a 300-degree oven for five minutes.

Makes 18 burekas.

*If you would like to make a sweet version of burekas, simply substitute your favorite hamentaschen filling for the spinach-feta filling and sprinkle the pastries with turbinado sugar after brushing them egg wash. Bake as directed above.