Author Notes: Make ‘em flaky, make ‘em savory. sweet or spicy.
A popular street food in Israel,the bureka derives from nomadic Turkish cuisine, dating back to the Ottoman Empire. Essentially a turnover any way you cut it, a bureka by any other name is a “börek” in Turkey, a byurek in Bulgaria, a spanakopita in Greece, all variations on the theme of phyllo dough pastry filled with an aromatic mix of veggies, potatoes, meats or cheeses.
My recipe builds on the genius of Joan Nathan’s lively and authoritative recipe from The Foods of Israel Today. With celery and fennel taking the star role, I’ve added potato, and sharpened the flavor combination with lemon, cinnamon, cardamon, anise seed, and the Mother-of-All Mediterranean spice mixes known as za’atar. Serve hot out of the oven for a versatile choice for brunch, cocktails or for a light and breezy supper perfect with a salad. - Vivian Henoch
Serves 5 to 10
- 4 to 5 Yukon Gold potatoes (par boiled and diced)
- 1 large fennel bulb, chopped into small pieces
- 1 small shallot or 3 scallions chopped into small pieces
- 2 cups celery! sliced thinly
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup feta cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
- 2 tablespoons za-atar
- 1 tablespoon anise seed
- 1 package (roll) prepared phyllo dough (Athens brand)
- salt and pepper to taste
- For filling: in a large sauté pan heat three to four tablespoons of olive oil. Add shallot, celery and fennel and cook until vegetables are softened.
- Add potatoes, scallions, spices, cheese, salt and pepper to taste. (Note: leave some za-atar in reserve for dusting on top of rolls.) Remove from burner and let mixture cool.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Using a pastry brush, coat a cookie sheet with oil.
- Working with 4 to 5 sheets of phyllo stacked together, brush top layer with olive oil. Spoon filling (about 1/4 cup) along the edge of the oiled dough, fold the short sides in and roll as you would a jelly roll. Place on the greased cookie sheet seam-side down and brush top and sides with oil. Repeat with the remaining phyllo dough and filling.
- Lightly sprinkle oiled logs with za’atar.
- Bake in oven until golden brown, about 25 minutes.
- Cut each log in half for meal-size servings. Option: cut into smaller pieces to serve as appetizers