These bourekas are a mix of New York Jewish and Middle Eastern Israeli food cultures. It sounds a little crazy, but it’s incredibly good: The flavorful seasoning blend, slightly sweet from the dried onion and garlic, balances out the salty, briny feta interior, and the cream and cottage cheese in the filling. A little bit of spinach, a personal must for me in cheese bourekas, adds color and flavor.
Best part? These bourekas, made with store-bought puff pastry, are relatively quick to throw together.
I plan on serving these for the Shavuot holiday, when it’s common to eat dairy foods, but they are really perfect for anytime: a Middle Eastern brunch spread with shakshuka and dips, or served at a cocktail party or as an appetizer for a dinner party. No matter when you choose to serve them, I know you will have people clamoring for seconds and thirds, as well as the recipe, so be prepared to make lots and keep this recipe on hand.
Note: These bourekas freeze beautifully unbaked. Simply freeze them filled and shaped, but without the egg wash and bagel spice topping, and apply the egg wash and spice when you’re ready to bake them, adding 5 to 10 minutes to the baking time.
For the spinach and feta filling:
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/3 cup cream cheese
1/2 cup cottage cheese
4 cups spinach
Salt and pepper
For the everything bagel spice mix:
1 Tbsp. white sesame seeds
2 Tbsp. poppy seeds
1 Tpsp. dried minced onion
1 Tpsp. dried minced garlic
1/2 Tpsp. coarse sea salt
1 large egg, whisked, for egg wash
36 puff pastry squares, defrosted (can also use 2 packages of puff pastry sheets cut into squares)
1. Preheat oven to 350F. In a frying pan over medium heat, wilt the spinach. Remove the spinach from frying pan, let cool down, wring out any liquid and finely chop.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine feta, cream cheese, ricotta, egg, chopped wilted spinach, a pinch of salt and a good shake of black pepper.
3. Use a fork to mix ingredients together until well blended. Reserve mixture.
4. Make the everything bagel spice mix by combining all the ingredients in a bowl. Reserve until needed.
5. Line 4 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place 9 puff pastry squares on each sheet, evenly spaced, giving them some room to expand during baking.
6. Place 1 scant tablespoon of the cheese filling in the center of each dough square.
7. Fold the dough squares by grasping one corner and folding it over to the opposite corner to make triangles. Pinch firmly along the outer open edge of the triangles to seal. If you’re having trouble sealing the dough and getting it to stick together, wet your finger with a bit of water and run it around the edge of the square before folding — this will help it stick together.
8. Brush the triangles with the beaten egg and the everything bagel spice mix on top.
Bake the bourekas for 30 to 35 minutes, switching the baking sheets between the upper and lower racks halfway through cooking. Bake until golden brown, puffed up and cooked through. Serves 36 bourekas.
Chaya Rappoport is blogger, baker and picture taker behind retrolillies.wordpress.com and a pastry sous chef at a Brooklyn bakery. Her work has been featured on The Feed Feed, Delish.com, Food and Wine, and Conde Nast Traveler.