Bourekas can be made with many kinds of pastries and fillings. My preference is for a flaky pastry such as puff, but you could use filo. This recipe began in my mind as silverbeet and ricotta, but there was not a bunch of silverbeet to be found on the day I tested it, so I used fennel to simulate the white stalks and never looked back.
500g block all-butter puff pastry
1 large fennel bulb
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
2 tbsp dry vermouth (or chicken stock or water)
250g baby spinach leaves
150g ricotta cheese
150g feta cheese
50g parmesan cheese, finely grated
2 large eggs
1 small lemon, zested
1 tsp sea salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tsp cold water
1 tsp nigella seeds
1 tsp sesame seeds
1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
½ tsp chilli flakes
1. On a lightly floured workbench, roll out the puff pastry into two large squares, 30cm x 30cm, approximately 4mm thick. Place one on top of the other, separated by baking paper, then transfer to a baking tray lined with baking paper and put into the fridge to chill while you prepare the filling.
2. Trim the stalks from the fennel but reserve the lacy green fronds. Remove any tough outer layers that are bruised or brown. Cut the bulb into quarters lengthways. Remove the woody core and slice thinly crosswise. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and cook the fennel, onion and thyme on a low-medium heat until the onion is translucent and the fennel has softened (about 5 minutes). Add a little of the vermouth (or stock or water) whenever the pan looks like it is drying out.
3. Add the spinach and toss together just until wilted, then take the pan off the heat and set aside to cool. Drain off any liquid, transfer to a chopping board and chop roughly. Transfer to a bowl and fold in the ricotta and feta, then add the parmesan, eggs, lemon zest and reserved fennel fronds. Season with salt and pepper and mix to combine.
4. Preheat your oven to 200C (180C fan-forced). Cut each sheet of pastry into 4 equal squares, each 15cm x 15cm – you should have 8 in total. Spoon one-eighth of the filling into the centre of each square. Brush the edges lightly with the beaten egg, then fold over to form a triangle, pinching firmly along the edges to seal. Press with the tines of a fork to ensure the pastry does not open up during baking. Place the pastries in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill and firm up.
5. When ready to bake, place the bourekas, spaced about 3cm apart, on 2 baking trays lined with baking paper then brush the tops of each with the egg wash. Combine the seeds and chilli flakes in a small bowl and sprinkle over each boureka. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown all over. Serve warm or at room temperature.