Fatayer (Spinach turnovers)

March 27, 2009  •  Category: ,

I wish you could have tasted Asma’s fatayers! They were the best in Beirut!

The dough was so thin and translucent and so buttery. The spinach filling was melting with just the right touch of tartness.

Asma  was  a Kurdish lady and  mother of seven, who immigrated to Lebanon from her native Kurdistan to escape persecution and misery. She was illiterate, but thanks to her superior intellect, managed to teach herself to read and write . She had had her share of tragedies. She had  lost two of her young daughters as shaheed (martyrs) fighting  for Kurdish rights in Turkey;  she also lost a son at age 22 in Germany. Despite all of this, she always had a smile and a positive attitude. A role model.

INGREDIENTS: This quantity will make 50-70 depending on the diameter of the cutter.


3 cups Flour 00 (can be substituted for all-purpose flour)

2 cups organic pastry flour (can be substituted for all-purpose or cake or whole wheat flour)

1 Tablespoon of dry yeast (optional); Asma does not use yeast 

1 Tablespoon sugar

1 Tablespoon salt

3/4 cup oil (canola, or olive oil)

1 1/2 cups water


1 lb of frozen chopped spinach (14 oz bag is fine)

1 lb of frozen collard greens (or spinach)

4 medium onions (about 12 oz.)

1/4 cup sumac

1 teaspoon paprika

pinch of cayenne (optional)

1 Tablespoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/3 cup pine nuts (optional)

Dressing for the stuffing:

1/4 cup lemon juice (bottled is OK)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 or 2 Tablespoons pomegranate molasses (optional)


  1. Start by making the dough. Proof the yeast with 1/4 cup of warm water and 1 Tablespoon of sugar. While waiting for the yeast to proof, mix the oil with the flour (or flours, if using more than one type) in a mixer fitted with the dough hook or by hand.  When the yeast  has bubbled, add it to the flour mixture, and mix in the water gradually. Knead the dough until it is as smooth as baby skin. Let it rest for one hour or more, while you mix the stuffing.
  2. Defrost and thaw out the spinach and collard greens. Place them in a colander and squeeze them out to get 3 cups of juice, at least. You want to get them very dry.
  3. Chop the onions very fine and place them in a bowl. Mix in all the spices.
  4. Make the dressing: mix the oil, lemon juice and pomegranate molasses in the quantities suggested. Squeeze the onions dry and add them to the spinach and greens mixture, along with the pine nuts. Now, pour the dressing very conservatively until the greens are moistened but no more than that. If the stuffing is too wet, it will open up the turnovers.
  5. Cut the dough in half and spread it on a cold  and greased counter as thin as possible, about 1/16 of an inch. If you can’t make them that thin, it is OK, just don’t make them too thick (no more than than 1/8in)
  6. Cut rounds with a 4 in. cookie cutter and start spreading one tablespoon of stuffing on each fatayer.
  7. Lift the fatayer and pinch 2 ends first and then the third to form a pyramid.
  8. Place them in greased cookie sheets and bake them after 20 minutes in a preheated oven at 350F. for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the top and bottoms are golden.
  9. Cool and eat at room temperature or slightly warm. These can be frozen for a month or longer.


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A few tips: Dipping your fingertips in flour while forming the fatayers is a good idea to help seal them. Pinching the tip of the pyramid with flour will seal them better. Also, the type of flour is not as important as is stretching the dough really thin,till almost transparent. The filling is traditionally done with either spinach or purslane (bakleh) but here I have used collard greens for variety and also because it is so readily available chopped and frozen in supermarkets.


Fatayer (Spinach turnovers)

Joumana Accad Mediterranean, Middle Eastern March 27, 2009 Mezze/Appetizers, Pastries/Breads, vegan, turnovers, fatayer, sabanegh, tagged,



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35 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Salma says:

    I’m waiting for the dough to rise as I type…thanks for this recipe, ive been wanting to make these for ages and never had the courage! I have an Egyptian cookbook (im Egyptian like the book) that only calls for lemon juice and oil for the dressing, though i think that sumac and mint will give it a richer taste.

  2. Samantha says:

    How much pomegranate molasses do you use in the dressing? It’s in the directions but not the ingredient list.

    • Joumana says:

      @Samantha: Sorry I omitted this, I would use one or two tablespoons or to taste, depending on your personal preference.

  3. Angela says:

    So you use 5 cups of all purpose flour? You have flour listed twice as an ingredient. Just want to make sure please!

  4. Angela says:

    Thanks! I’m gonna make it today!!!

  5. Angela says:

    Omg Joumana! They came out like my mothers!! My mom would eyeball her ingredients so she could never tell me over the phone exact amounts. I’ve tried countless recipes and the dough would be to buttery or too hard. But you hit the nai on the head! Thank you my family enjoyed them and I even froze some fatayer for later!

  6. Sam says:

    Can we make it pie or tart style? or can it be made like the flat kibbe style instead. I am looking for an easier faster way to prepare it for my family. Thank you,

    • Joumana says:

      @Sam: I am sure you could! Just not sure this dough recipe would work! I am working on a recipe this week that might be the answer. Stay tuned! 🙂

  7. Sam says:

    Thank you for your response Joumana, Do you think it would be okay to bake the bottom layer first then take it out, top it with the spinach, then the top layer and return it back in the oven? I certainly don’t want to use the phillo, but prefer a less buttery dough.

    • Joumana says:

      @Sam: you can use only 3 tbsp of oil in the dough and it would come out just fine; that’s what I do these days. I would not try baking it in two stages, too tricky, I think. Just add more water to the dough if it needs it (too dry, not smooth or moist enough)

  8. Sam says:

    Appreciate your response. I will give it a try. I enjoy your posts a lot and am telling my friends about your site. You have some rare recipes that I haven’t heard about except from my mother in law.

  9. Nayla Papadopoulos says:

    I made these today and they were DELICIOUS! Thank you for the great recipe! I actually used half spinach and half arugula because I had a lot on hand, and they were really really tasty, and a big hit. Question, how long do these last? And if I freeze them will they be as nice? Do I heat them in the oven? Thanks again!

  10. Raro says:

    Joumana, I would like to try it but for around a maximum of 25 pieces. Could you please send me the recipe for the dough to my email. Thanks

  11. Raro says:

    I will give it a try. Tahnk you and get well soon Joumana. I studied most of my elementary and Intermediate education in Sidon too 🙂

  12. Rawia says:

    Do you have DVDs for your recipes and if yes please let me know where to find them.

  13. Rawia says:

    Thank you Joumana.

  14. Tsili Wolf says:

    Do you have the recipe for the feta cheese filling and/or meat?
    Thank you

  15. Tsili Wolf says:

    The cheese filling looks yummy
    How about a meat filling?
    Thank you

  16. Tara says:

    I made these for the first time and they were absolutely wonderful! A new favorite for my 1 year old son. I loved that I could freeze the extra for quick lunches later in the week.

  17. Iswari says:

    Can the dough be made a day in advance and refrigerated overnight before forming and baking?

  18. Kath says:

    Thanks so much we all love fatayer in sydney , yum yum

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