15 Minutes, plus 30-60 Minutes Rising time
"I’ve recently returned from a glorious holiday in Crete with several amazing food memories. A fish platter the size of a small child, brimming with freshly seared cuttlefish, langoustines and sea bream; melting veal stifado with caramelized onions; glistening, syrupy baklava. As is often the case, it’s the simplest tastes that really stand out. Each morning we sat in the sun on our vine-draped balcony and unwrapped packages of treasure from the local bakery We picked up whatever looked good, often with no idea what we’d find inside. We had soft, sweet dough filled with tomato, ham and oregano; a crumbly, salty pastry stuffed with local sheep’s cheese; a twisted, melting filo creation packed with delicious spinach and, my favourite, a flat, round dough parcel encasing a moreish filling of spinach and molten feta."
This is my attempt to recreate those Greek breakfasts; particularly, the very special spinach and feta flatbread. I’ve made a basic flatbread dough, enriched with olive oil for Mediterranean authenticity and to make it soft and pliable, so it can be rolled paper-thin. Inside is a simple but delicious filling of baby spinach, flavoured with lemon zest, zippy Turkish red pepper flakes (they have a slight kick to them but don’t overpower), a whisper of garlic and more olive oil. Add crumbled feta, wrap the lot in the dough like a parcel and then fry them until crispy, and you’ve got something very special.
These are dangerously addictive. The outside is crispy and caramelized, the inside gooey and fluffy. The spinach and feta soften into a wonderful salty, lemony molten delight. It’s like eating a cheese panini or a cheese toastie, but infinitely better; the aromatic spinach really enhances everything. I like to eat this for breakfast, with a cup of tea and a bowl of fruit salad, but it would also make an excellent lunch with some tomatoes and olives, Greek-style, or as part of a Mediterranean mezze feast. The dough parcels look tricky, but are actually very simple. Give them a go!
For the dough:
For the filling:
Set Oven Temp: 180C/Gas Mark 4
First, make the dough. Put the flour in the bowl of a freestanding mixer with a dough hook. Put the sugar and salt on one side of the bowl and the yeast on the other. Add the water and olive oil, then knead using the dough hook for around 5 minutes, until you have a smooth, elastic dough (you can also do this by hand, in which case knead for 10 minutes). Return the dough to the bowl, cover with a teatowel and leave for around 30-60 minutes, or until doubled in size.
Meanwhile, make the filling. Finely chop the spinach leaves. Put them in a bowl with the lemon zest, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper and olive oil. Squash the garlic clove with the flat side of a large knife, and add to the bowl. Rub everything together well with your hands, then remove the garlic clove (this gives it a slight hint of garlic without it being overpowering). Crumble in the feta and mix well again. Set aside.
When the dough has risen, knock the air out of it and divide into two equal pieces. Use a rolling pin to roll each piece out to a rough rectangle shape, as thinly as you can. You want a rectangle at least 20 inches by 10 inches. Put half the filling in the centre of each rectangle, spreading it out to leave a border of around 4 inches.
Fold the long sides of dough inwards over the filling, then repeat with the shorter sides, encasing it well. Flatten everything down gently with the palm of your hand.
Pre-heat the oven to 180C (160 fan). Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat. Brush the dough parcels with olive oil on both sides, then fry in the pan for around 5 minutes on each side, or until crispy and golden brown.
Transfer to the oven and bake for 10 minutes to ensure everything is cooked through. Remove, leave for a minute or so, then slice into triangles and serve immediately.