Lebanese Spinach Pies, or fatayar, or whatever

These little Lebanese spinach pies–or fatayar–are a beloved Lebanese treat. The dough can be tricky to keep closed during baking, but even the ones that open are, of course, delicious. I use a fantastic sticky dough recipe, rolled out and cut in circles. Fill Lebanese fatayar with spinach, meat, squash, or your own invention.

Lebanese spinach pies on a vintage blue plate, by Maureen Abood.com

You’d think I’ve been taking entrance exams for a job at Cook’s Illustrated. I imagine one of the more challenging tests they could give an aspiring test kitchen cook there would be: figure out how to make spinach fatayar that never open up when you bake them.

I thought it was going to be a breeze to make spinach fatayar with you. Then I realized that most of the fatayar (fah-TIE-ah, which in Arabic refers to any savory little bundle of dough—a pie—with a filling) I’ve made in the last year has been stuffed with meat. I needed some serious spinach ‘taya tutorials.

Here’s the thing: spinach is mostly water, and that water steams and juices out of the spinach when it’s cooked. Which forces open the tidy triangle you have pinched, ever so lovingly, together. Then the juice gets all over the pan and the bottom of your fatayar and burns. Then you start thinking about baking perfect chocolate chip cookies instead. You end up saying some harsh words meant only for the fatayar, and you remember it’s a beautiful spring day in March and the windows are wide open. Construction workers next door just look at you and then each other when you walk out the door. There goes crazy.

Adding insult to injury is the fact that you rolled your dough out nice and thin and pulled together a really pretty triangle that then, as if just to spite you, bakes up looking like the misshapen work of a five year old.

Now that I’ve been to cooking school, and the OCD-factor is in fine working order, it seems I can’t stand to have my fatayar looking too…rustic. Dan said they never all look the same; they’re like siblings, he said, different but the same, and they’re cute. But here’s a guy who has never seen the Sound of Music, so I’m not sure I can trust him. As he buttered up the fatayar with labne and ate them down like candy, I was forced to admit that yes, they do still taste incredibly delicious even in their artisan state.

Cindy happened to call when I was in the middle of my third round of testing. This time I had used cake flour for a softer dough, hoping that would contribute to the sticky factor and keep the pinched edges together. I got all excited by how beautifully that dough rolled out and was sitting in front of the oven watching them, just daring them to open up again. Cindy could hear the concentration in my voice. How about a staple gun!, she said, and you could just tell people how many staples are in each one so they’d know how many they need to spit out. Like an olive pit, I said.

The batch came out pretty, and without much fatayar-opening, but the cake flour dough just didn’t have the right chew, the right flavor, the right color. No go.

Cousin Teresa makes tons of fatayar, and she told me that her key is a dry dough, but then she folds her dough over into a turnover triangle rather than pinching it. I notice that’s what Aunt Louise does too, but I can’t seem to get past my desire to pinch them closed, the way my mom does it.

The chef at the club where Tom and Amara had their wedding reception last month made little tiny fatayar, the smallest I’ve ever seen, and he told me he rubbed egg white along the rim of the dough circles to help them stay closed. I tried it and it can be helpful, but not foolproof, and it’s another step I’d rather avoid if I could.

In the end there are two factors that I’ve found work well to keep pinched fatayar closed: a dry spinach filling and a sticky dough. The spinach is dried out by squeezing it practically to death before adding finely chopped onions, cinnamon or allspice, and then a little lemon juice right before filling the dough. Fresh chopped spinach gives up its water when it is salted and left to rest for a few minutes; then squeeze away. Chopped frozen spinach thaws out wet and can be squeezed out from there. You keep the dough sticky rather than dried out by not dilly-dallying when you are cutting, filling, and closing them. I don’t recommend stopping to take pictures along the way. Or staples.

 

Lebanese Spinach Pies, Fatayar

Maureen Abood
These little pies filled with spinach are a Lebanese favorite. They're also wonderful with classic fillings like spiced meat or squash. Fatayar freezes well in a ziplock freezer bag and can be reheated from frozen, or simply thaw to room temperature and eat. Serve fatayar warm or room temperature as an appetizer, or for a meal with a salad.
Servings 24 fatayar

Ingredients
  

For the dough:

  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

For the spinach filling:

  • 8 cups fresh spinach, OR 2 lbs. frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry
  • 1 1/2 cups yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon or allspice
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts or chopped walnuts, toasted

Instructions
 

Make the dough:

  • Proof the yeast by dissolving it in ¼ cup of the warm water with the sugar and letting it activate for about 10 minutes.
  • Whisk together the flour and salt in a mixer bowl or medium bowl. Create a well in the center and add the oil and proofed yeast mixture. Using a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment or by hand, slowly work the wet ingredients into the dry, adding 1/2 cup of water slowly. Add more of the water only as necessary to create a sticky dough.
  • Knead by hand or with the dough hook in the mixer until the dough is very soft, smooth, and tacky/sticky to the touch (but it should not leave dough on your fingers when touched). The kneading by hand can be awkward at first because it's such a wet mess, but as you knead, the dough will firm up a bit and absorb all of the water.
  • In a clean bowl at least twice the size of the dough, lightly coat the dough and the sides of the bowl with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot until doubled, about 90 minutes. Take care not to overproof the dough.

Make the fatayar:

  • If using fresh spinach, sprinkle with the salt in a medium bowl. Set aside to macerate for 10 minutes, then squeeze the spinach of as much juice as possible. Discard juice. If using frozen spinach, squeeze as much juice as possible, and discard juice.
  • Combine the spinach and onion. Just before filling the pastry, add cinnamon or allspice, pepper, and lemon juice. If using frozen spinach, add salt (fresh has already been salted to remove the juice). Taste and adjust seasoning.
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two heavy baking sheets with parchment paper or foil.
  • Roll half of the dough out on a dry work surface to 1/8-inch thickness (see how here). Gently lift the dough from the edges to allow for contraction. Cut dough into 4-inch rounds. Cover with plastic wrap. Knead together the scraps, cover with plastic, and set aside.
  • Fill the rounds of dough by placing a heaping tablespoon of filling in the center of each round. Be careful not to let the filling touch the edges of the dough where it will be gathered together and closed. A good way to keep the filling in the center is to lower the spoon with the filling over the center of the dough (parallel to it) and use your fingers to slide the filling off the spoon and into the center of the dough circle. Place three nuts on top of the filling; this method works better than adding the nuts to the filling because it’s easier to be sure each fatayar has enough nuts.
  • Bring three sides of the dough together in the center over the filling and pinch into a triangle. Close the dough firmly.
  • Place the fatayar on the baking sheets and generously brush or spray the dough with olive oil. Bake in the middle of the oven for 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Set the oven on convection bake for the last 5 minutes of baking to encourage browning.
  • Repeat the process with the other half of the dough, then with the scraps that have been kneaded together and left to rest for a few minutes before rolling out.

 

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205 Comments

  1. Marci Duryea on March 22, 2012 at 8:42 AM

    Oh Maureen, your fatayar look so beautiful! We like both the meat and the spinach here. Perhaps next week when my daughter is off for spring break, we will make some!

    • Maureen Abood on March 22, 2012 at 9:13 AM

      Thank you Marci! They ARE delicious with meat, super delicious. Let me know if you make some!!

  2. Jerry Wakeen on March 22, 2012 at 8:45 AM

    Great article, will forward to wife’s laptop who makes and loves spinach pies.

    Years ago we met with a cousin, husband and two young girls. We made spinach pies and used the dough also for other bread. We jokingly had races to see who could finish them up the fastest. I stole one from the oldest girl and pretended I had done it. She quickly caught me and took it back. If there was a way to attach a photo I could amaze you with a shot of her smiling face and the “big kahouna”, which was a rather large pie that we took a picture of. Every pie was different, I think they all opened up in the center. Thanks for the hints and details.

    • Maureen Abood on March 22, 2012 at 9:12 AM

      A big kahouna fatayar!!! Perfect!

  3. myron abood on March 22, 2012 at 9:49 AM

    Who is this Maureen Abood, the fataya guru? Is she a welcome relative of mine? and how we became so lucky.

    • Maureen Abood on March 22, 2012 at 9:55 AM

      And who is this Myron Abood?! Cousin?! The Abood clan is everywhere!!

  4. Lynda on March 22, 2012 at 10:27 AM

    These are lovely – I love spinach everything.

    • Maureen Abood on March 22, 2012 at 2:52 PM

      Then these are right up your alley, Lynda. Such good spinach flavor, combined with the delicate golden exterior.

  5. tasteofbeirut on March 22, 2012 at 1:50 PM

    Love spinach fatayers so much and have been getting some serious practice with them here in Beirut. Yours look picture-perfect!

    • Maureen Abood on March 22, 2012 at 2:51 PM

      How wonderful that you are spending all of this time in Lebanon, Joumana!

  6. Rosemary on March 22, 2012 at 3:31 PM

    These were, by far, Mom’s specialty. We’ve all spent hours with Mom trying to master her dough and recreate the mountains of spinach (and meat) pies that she could produce, BY HERSELF, in one afternoon. It was like a fatayar production line at the kitchen table. Mom never served spinach pies that popped open — because someone always ate them, hot from the oven, to destroy any evidence that they ever existed! It’s Lent, so I’ll make some spinach pies in Mom’s honor. Thanks for the reminder, Maureen!

    • Maureen Abood on March 22, 2012 at 4:05 PM

      What a woman!! Thank you Rosemary, and let me know how your fatayar come out.

  7. Diane Nassir (My maternal grandmother was an Abowd) on March 23, 2012 at 5:12 AM

    Dear Maureen,
    You ALWAYS push the right buttons, and as always, I was smiling AND laughing all the way through your article because I was NEVER able to get my spinach fatayar to stay closed — never have made it on my own since leaving my mother’s kitchen as I always felt like an abject failure. Her spinach and meat pies were always beautiful and perfect, as are yours. And yes, you are so right, our mothers were fstayar making machines–working hard all morning and afternoon for love of family, so we could eagerly gobble them up as they came out of the oven–very difficult to wait for them to cool to eating temp!

    • Maureen Abood on March 23, 2012 at 9:31 AM

      I can just SEE the whole scene, Diane! Beautiful!

  8. Beth on March 23, 2012 at 10:58 AM

    Ah the plague of too-wet spinach. I have started to dry out my frozen, thawed spinach by heating it in a saute pan over medium heat until the liquid has stopped bubbling out – I have found that this makes it dryer than I can ever can by just squeezing – maybe that would help with the filling?

    • Maureen Abood on March 23, 2012 at 11:00 AM

      Clever, Beth!! I will give this a try!

    • Janet Moore on March 14, 2013 at 3:56 PM

      This is what my mother would do. She squeezed out the spinach and heated it in a saute pan to finish taking the rest of the moisture out. Then she added the lemon while it was hot and it absorbed the lemon….they were delicious. And, I might add, they looked just like yours Maureen….yours are beautiful.
      Thanks for sharing …

  9. Roger Toomey on March 23, 2012 at 1:14 PM

    I wish I had asked more questions when my Grandmother and Mother (who learned from my grandmother) were alive. They made these regularly. Don’t remember any complaints about them being hard to make or they wouldn’t have made them. My aunts don’t refuse to give recipes and advice, they just don’t get around to answering emails. (Maybe I should try calling.) My Grandmother had 9 children and 20 some grandchildren and on the holidays we never ran out of anything. And she used a wood stove because she just couldn’t bake correctly with an electric.

    Anyway, I haven’t thought about making them in a long time. Your blog brings back so many things that my mind had put in storage.

    Thanks.

    • Maureen Abood on March 23, 2012 at 1:51 PM

      They just had what it takes, didn’t they?! The wood stove–wow. It would be great to see a photo of her baking at her wood stove.

  10. Cindy Hunter Morgan on March 27, 2012 at 11:01 AM

    O.K. No staples. A quick whipstich with dissolvable thread? Chris or Dick could help sew them up.

    • Maureen Abood on March 27, 2012 at 1:46 PM

      Brilliant!!!

    • Janet Moore on March 14, 2013 at 3:58 PM

      LOL!!!

  11. Jody Namey Atty on April 5, 2012 at 2:50 PM

    Maureen,
    My daughter is coming home next week. We’ve never made fatayar without my Mom (who now lives in assisted living) but we’re going to give it a try thanks to your great suggestions! I hope we can make Mom proud!

    • Maureen Abood on April 5, 2012 at 5:50 PM

      Jody, this is great!! Your fatayar will be wonderful and will make a Mama proud! Can’t wait to hear all about it.

  12. Roslyn on April 8, 2012 at 7:34 PM

    Lovely photos! A Lebanese-Australian chef told me she uses citric acid rather than lemon juice in her fatayer to get the requisite tang without the extra liquid.

    • Maureen Abood on April 9, 2012 at 8:44 AM

      I’ve seen citric acid used in some cookbooks but haven’t worked with it myself. Very interesting and worth a try!

      • Janet Moore on March 14, 2013 at 4:00 PM

        I use it Maureen….it works wonderful. I also use it in salads when the tomatoes are so very ripe that you otherwise would have a half filled bowl of juice. Which by the way I love and dunk my bread in. But, the Citric Acid is an amazing fresh lemon taste. Hope you try it sometime. If you do, let me know how you like it.

  13. Kristin on August 16, 2012 at 12:01 AM

    Thank you for this recipe! So easy to make but I agree, trying to keep the triangles closed is a challenge, but fortunately they all taste the same! I will be making these for our Eid party this weekend. Thanks again!

  14. Nina on September 19, 2012 at 1:19 PM

    I love your recipe! I’ve tried making my dough with whole wheat flour, but it becomes dry and a little hard. Have you tried it with whole wheat dough? Is there a secret?

    • Alyce on January 4, 2013 at 9:16 PM

      I used 1/3 whole wheat flour in mine with great success.

  15. Peter Hassarani on November 7, 2012 at 1:39 AM

    Hi Maureen,

    I am of Lebanese descent. You can take the boy out of Lebanon but you can’t take the Lebanese out of the boy. My mother, God bless her, went to Him too soon. When I married, my wife who is not Lebanese, did not have the benefit of mums cooking prowess to guide her. Over the years I have relied on relatives to get that magical taste of home made Lebanese cooking and of course our own versions of certain dishes. I recently retired and although I keep busy it occurred to me that I had time to research and try some of my mums dishes. Fatayer was my favourite as a child. I tried your recipe and was pleased at my first attempt. Although some opened they tasted just as good as the others. I did not use pine nuts because mum didn’t. But there was one one ingredient that I remember mum added which was a small amount of chopped fennel leaves. I will definitely try that extra ingredient next time. Some of the other dishes we have made include merhshe kooseh, kibbe mekleea, kibbe naya, loubyeh, hummus and felafel. We have even tried our hand at pickling olives. One dish that I would like a recipe for is Fasoulyeh. I remember a rich stew of kidney beans and lamb on the bone served with rice and egg noodles. I would be forever grateful if you have a recipe for that stew. Keep up the good work….

    Regards
    Peter Hassarani

    • Maureen Abood on November 7, 2012 at 1:47 PM

      What a wonderful comment Peter, thank you. I’m delighted to hear about your cooking adventure. I will find out about fasoulyeh and will let you know!

  16. Marisa Kradjian on November 14, 2012 at 10:35 AM

    These look awesome and your hints and tips will enable me to make a huge improvement on the recipe I’ve been using! Just wondering about pre-baking and freezing for the holidays. How is the taste and texture when frozen and reheated? Close enough to fresh? What’s the maximum on freezing- like could I prepare on Sunday to freeze then reheat on Thursday? I would like to bring some to a friend on Thanksgiving but can’t see myself doing all the work the morning of. Thanks!

    • Maureen Abood on November 14, 2012 at 9:30 PM

      Hi Marisa, and thanks for your great questions. I freeze baked fatayar all the time and they are great for at least a month out of the freezer. They reheat and taste/texture are excellent. You can and should prepare them Sunday for Thanksgiving and freeze!

  17. Ronnie Moses on December 7, 2012 at 12:26 AM

    I love Spinach Pies, My Mom made them for us when we lived at home many years ago and since she is gone we do not get the special taste of the Middle Eastern foods such as she made……she also put raisins in her spinach pies, this really sets them off and a wonderful taste….try it sometimes…..

    Keep up the good cooking…………Ronnie……..

  18. Alyce on January 4, 2013 at 9:14 PM

    Just made these. Yum! I added feta, hope you don’t mind. My 3 year old gobbled it right up. Great way to get him to eat his green veggies. Thanks for this!

  19. ira handwerker on January 26, 2013 at 3:03 PM

    ilove making both spinach pies and occasionally themeat variation.. my family were from aleppo and also turkey so i grew up withthem..in the summer i havemade them with chard and even dandelion greens.. i like using a bread flour for the dough.. i never really had a problem with them opening up but even if they do imsure hey would taste just fine

  20. ira handwerker on January 26, 2013 at 3:08 PM

    i forgot to mention i also use ground sumac in the spinach pies and a handful of raisins like my grandmmother from aleppo did

  21. Viviane@Taste-Buds on January 29, 2013 at 8:46 PM

    I just stumbled on your blog. I am a (relatively) new Lebanese expat to California. I made Fatayer for rhe first time in my life last Easter at my in-laws (yeah I can be confident like that lol). They were a hit! I love Fatayer, they are a little shy of magical!
    I found that a salad spinner can do magic to dry the spinach. It is like the tool especially made for this! Another thing that I found to work is to drain the filling some before putting it on the dough.

    Glad I found your blog.

    • Maureen Abood on January 29, 2013 at 11:05 PM

      Great ideas, thank you Viviane!

  22. Ali Hoffman on January 31, 2013 at 12:53 PM

    Hey Cousin Maureen,
    My house at school is doing a Middle Eastern Night, so I figured I had to try and represent 🙂 My mom told me to go to you as far as making the spinach fataya. Your fataya definitely looks a lot different than my moms, but I want to try because alot of people that I live with are vegetarians. A few questions though: How do you slice the dough so perfectly, what is a 4” round cutter and where can I find one? Also, could I use this same dough for some meat fataya?

    • Maureen Abood on February 1, 2013 at 6:55 AM

      Ali, how great that you’re going to make the fatayar! Your mom is a pro. The dough will roll out nice and thin for you because there is no second rise as is typical for breads. The round cutter is a cookie cutter that is round, 4 inches wide. I use the round top of a canister that is 3 or 4 inches, depending on how small I need the fatayar to be. The top of a cup will work too, it just may take a little more doing to cut the dough if it isn’t very sharp. And yes, this dough works great for meat fatayar too. Let me know how it goes!

  23. Emm on February 4, 2013 at 2:47 PM

    Maureen, where can I find the “meat pie” version of this recipe?

    • Maureen Abood on February 5, 2013 at 10:39 AM

      Hi Emm, use the same dough and for the filling: saute 2 cups chopped yellow onion, 1 lb. ground round. Season with salt, pepper, cinnamon, lemon juice. Add toasted pine nuts, and go!

  24. ira handwerker on February 9, 2013 at 7:30 AM

    i am not an experienced baker but i do cook a great deal of mideastern foods.. my family is from turkey as well as yemen.. however i do love making spinach pies and i am surprised i never had a problem with the pies opening during baking.. i use part bread flour and keep it on the sticky side i find they seal better that way.. ive tried variations on the filling i always use some sumac and sometimes i add raisins other times i use some pomengranate molasses.. they are always delicios and truly my favorite.

  25. ira handwerker on February 9, 2013 at 8:51 AM

    i also had a question…. i am a vegetarian and grow a garden in the summer.. i have used chard and purslane instead of spinach from my summer garden.. has anybody ever used other vegetables for a filling such as koosa.. i never tried it yet…

    • Maureen Abood on February 11, 2013 at 4:29 PM

      Thanks Ira–Coosa would no doubt taste good, just would need to be careful of all of the liquid from the squash!

  26. Vernice Gigante on February 20, 2013 at 8:17 PM

    Hello Maureen I have been looking for a recipe for a long time that took me back to my childhood. I grew up in Brooklyn New York my grandmother on my mother side was Lebanese and her last name was Abood also. She would make them for the holidays and she would always put some on the side for just me to take home. I can’t wait to try your recipe I will be making them for Easter and surprise the family. Thanks for the memories!

  27. Elaine Archer on March 14, 2013 at 9:55 PM

    Maureen, You have awakened the sleeping Lebanese in me. Moving away from my MI home at an early age I also moved away from the chance to learn to make some of the great foods my mom made so deliciously well. All of your instructions and helpful hints will help me through my usual mistakes. Your special way of writing, beautiful pictures and recipes have certainly inspired me to increase my cooking (as well as my waistline). I’m hoping you start a revival in the younger generations to keep these wonderful recipes alive.

  28. Taleb Abulibdeh on March 16, 2013 at 1:01 AM

    Thank you so much for the recipe Maureen. Although i’m half Palestinian, half asian, this recipe still reminded me of grandma’s cooking and living back home. I doubled the whole nuts and used cinnamon as my spice of choice. It was amazing

    Thank you

  29. Elizabeth Abood-Carroll on April 26, 2013 at 9:41 PM

    Cousin Maureen,
    It’s encouraging to know that a great cook like yourself has struggled making spinach fatayer too. The ingredients are basic but it can be tricky to get it just right. Luckily, the “mistakes” taste good. For the flour, I have had good luck using King Arthur’s unbleached bread flour. For those, like me, who need to know exactly how warm the water needs to be to get the yeast to activate, I found the right water temperature is 115 F. Thank you for the tips about getting the water out of the spinach and putting the pine nuts on top! Why didn’t I think of that?

    • Maureen Abood on April 27, 2013 at 6:50 AM

      Thank you cousin for sharing your details! Let’s make fatayar together someday soon!

  30. Beth on May 5, 2013 at 12:36 PM

    Maureen, thank you for the wonderful recipe. I made these with my 3.5 year old daughter and she had a great time both making and eating them. While mine were not all uniform in size and shape, not one opened up. Thanks for all the good advice.

    • Maureen Abood on May 5, 2013 at 8:46 PM

      How great to hear that Beth! Children and fatayar go together! My nephew asks me to make some special for him without onion…

  31. Nadooa on May 5, 2013 at 1:10 PM

    I use very little lemon juice but make up for it using a spice called sumac. It is much tastier than lemon juice or even any alternative like citric acid. It has a flavor that I really do like. We use it on chicken and onions when we make Imsakhan over here in Palestine. I just made some actually! I never could get the dough right but it worked just fine today 🙂

    • Maureen Abood on May 5, 2013 at 8:46 PM

      Nadooa, love sumac, and what a great idea to use it in the fatayar with the spinach. I will try it!

  32. Lopitta on July 2, 2013 at 2:13 AM

    We use sumac too. Much tastier than lemon. You can stuff them with most greens. Try silver beet instead of spinach.
    Yours look great. I’ve made them once and I was so proud of myself especially when hubby polished them off by bedtime. I’m too scared to do another batch. It was so time consuming.

  33. Lori Feghali on August 27, 2013 at 3:33 PM

    I am going to try making these tomorrow, I’m an American married 24 years to a Lebanese gentleman. I make, my version, of lots of Lebanese food, but, I have never tried spinach pies, so wish me luck!!! I also want to do cheese pies, as well, not too sure what the recipe is for the cheese filling (I can not eat bread nor cheese so I could not tell what would go inside).

  34. Saara on September 17, 2013 at 5:56 AM

    Since I stumbled upon this wonderful recipe in August I’ve impressed my friends and family constantly. Everybody loves the pies! Last week I made about 250 of them for a birthday party of a friend. Thank you so much Maureen and greetings from Finland!

    • Maureen Abood on September 17, 2013 at 7:59 AM

      Wow! You are a fatayar pro, Saara! Thanks so much for sharing.

  35. Sharon on October 3, 2013 at 9:37 AM

    Maureen,

    I am going to make these today. Like you with imjadara, as a child I couldn’t bring myself to eating grape leaves. My cousins all loved them as children. Now as an adult I too love them. funny how our tastes change as we grow up.

    Do you think you could share your recipe for the meat filling? I would love to try them as well.

    I enjoyed your “cousin” article. I have cousins that are more than that and I call them my “sister cousin” or “brother cousin”.

    Sharon

  36. Brent Taylor on October 4, 2013 at 11:49 PM

    My mothers maiden name was Mansour her moms madin name was abufadel the recipe when they made meat pies includded zatar spice and mint spinich no zata but had mint also i cook for a living i cook for the head start program in bullhead city az a hour and a half from vages on the colarado river i barowed my Lebanese cookbook my mom gave me with notes in it to correct the recipes to a cef i worked with he had a hart atack died they. Clened his office out and took my cookbook my mother pssed 20 years ago her sister. Is still alive im going to call her and see abought the recipes thanks for having the blog needed to talk abought it to someone miss my mom thanks Brent

  37. Patricia Abood on October 9, 2013 at 1:21 AM

    Maureen,
    Do you have a recipe for meat filling for the fatayer that you like? I know some people cook the meat before filling the dough but I find it’s too dry. My dad baked it with raw meat and it was delicious. It was even good cold.

    • Maureen Abood on October 9, 2013 at 10:36 PM

      Hello there–I have this on my list for publication, but in short it’s a simple mix of sauteed onion, ground lamb or beef, with cinnamon, salt, pepper, lemon. And pinenuts!

  38. dolores on November 16, 2013 at 11:09 AM

    This summer my daughter excitedly called me after having found your wonderful and warm
    website with foods my mom used to make. Now most of my life, these recipes were “MOM’s” and
    not any like it. WELLLLLL, you have hit a home run with me because as I grew up (born in Detroit, but
    had to move to Arizona when very young), there was no interest on my part to learn how to cook…but
    mom was queen of the kitchen and did not invite me to do any cooking…..just to clean up! But, the other
    week I decided to make the spinach fatayar and…..yummmmm, JUST like Mom’s except when she made
    the spinach mixture, she combined all the ingredients into a bowl and then filled the dough….she cried many times when the dough would not close and when cooking all opened up. Your method made such beautiful little fatayars and they tasted sooooo good. Here is the offshoot: I had dough left over, so
    since already rolled and rising, I tossed them onto my pizza stone and had 4 of the MOST delicious
    breads EVER! SO soft! My recipe for bread is the same as yours, but I only have on my recipe ” 1/4 cup of oil to 6 cups of flour” so with your 1/3 cup per 3 cups, they are so wonderful. I have made the bread every other day since I started!! Wooo HOOOOO! My husband, who is not born Lebanese, loves
    our foods……when I make them. We are only 2 now, so harder to make stuff. So, my reason for writing
    is that I thank you from the bottom of my tummy (which is where I think my heart is!) for giving all of us
    a wonderful reason to cook again. You write so beautifully. When You spoke of Naomi Nye and how her
    voice spoke to you, my daughter and I “hear” yours with all our hearts. You are one in a million.

    • Maureen Abood on November 16, 2013 at 11:23 AM

      Dolores!! I am SO touched, so very touched. Thank you from the bottom of my tummy-heart too! Nothing could make me feel more energized and thrilled than a message like yours. Sending much love to you, your family, and your special Lebanese history. Please keep in touch! xxxx.

  39. john on January 6, 2014 at 1:07 AM

    I made fatayar or spinach pies once and the recipe called for cooking the spinach can you or do you have those directions on how to cook and what ingridents go into it I used thegas burner to cook it cant remember directions

    • Maureen Abood on January 8, 2014 at 8:08 AM

      Hi John–I don’t cook the spinach first because it is not necessary to do that–if you want to do that you can sauté it over medium-low heat as a way of drying out the frozen spinach or wilting the fresh spinach. The less juice you have the easier it will be to seal the fatayar dough.

  40. Christina on February 2, 2014 at 9:16 PM

    Hi Maureen-I was wondering if you have a recipe for the meat filling too. Love them both!

    • Maureen Abood on February 3, 2014 at 12:52 PM

      Hi Christina, I haven’t posted that recipe yet but I do make the meat fatayar often, with about a pound of ground beef, 1 chopped medium onion, salt, pepper, cinnamon. Cook that mixture and squeeze a lemon over it, then continue as you would with the spinach using the meat instead (with toasted pine nuts, too). Enjoy!

      • Christina on February 9, 2014 at 5:36 PM

        Thank you Maureen! I’m enjoying your recipies!

  41. Christina on February 9, 2014 at 7:59 PM

    Hi Maureen
    I’m having trouble when I bake the pies, as they open up. I have tried putting less of the mixture in and making the dough a little bit thicker but it doesn’t seem to help. Just wondering if you had any other ideas?
    Thanks so much!
    Christina

    • Maureen Abood on February 10, 2014 at 9:40 AM

      It can be frustrating, I know! It helps to be sure your dough is sticky (did you add all of the water?) and not to use flour when you roll it out. Sticky dough stays together better when it’s pinched. You can also try egg white wash around the edges before pinching them together. Pinch numerous times too, to make it a very firm closure. Be sure when you put the spinach on the dough not to let any of the spinach touch the edges of the dough where it will be pinched.

      • Christina on February 10, 2014 at 1:05 PM

        Thanks Maureen. I didn’t use all of the water; I had about 1/8 left. I’ll try the egg white trick too. Thanks!

  42. Soll Ballesteros on February 11, 2014 at 1:38 AM

    i tried your recipe,and my employer so as the kids,loved it.
    am a nanny who works for a lebanese family.

    thanks for sharing it,GOD BLESS.

  43. Mandy Brzezinski on February 21, 2014 at 10:33 PM

    I have been looking for this recipe for a long time! I’m so stoked to try it! Lebanese food is my favorite mmm MMM!

    • Maureen Abood on February 22, 2014 at 6:59 AM

      How great Mandy! Let me know how it goes!

  44. Denise Cernansky on March 3, 2014 at 5:39 PM

    I can’t wait to make these! When I lived in a Pennsylvania Steeltown, we had a great Lebanese Restaurant called Mill City Inn. Owned by the Mowad family. I learned a lot from them and many other nationalities (Italian, Greek, Serbian, Ukrainian, Croatian what a wonderful melting pot that was in the 60’s-80’s for me. I’m 1/4 Hungarian and loving it!

    • Maureen Abood on March 4, 2014 at 5:43 AM

      Thank you Denise! Enjoy the spinach pies and I’ll love to know how it goes for you!

  45. Kathy Masloob on March 5, 2014 at 10:22 PM

    My daughter recently told me that she uses dried chopped onion from the food co-op to help absorb the moisture from the spinach. I haven’t tried it yet. I keep a paper towel handy to dry my fingertips quickly if they touch the spinach and I am ready to pinch the dough with dry fingers. I also keep flour nearby to pat on the dough edge I am going to pinch, if the spinach juice (or lemon juice) gets the edge wet. You have to work quickly, for sure!

    • Maureen Abood on March 6, 2014 at 6:54 PM

      That’s all great stuff, Kathy, thank you! I’m interested in the use of dried onion for this.

  46. Angie on March 7, 2014 at 12:44 PM

    I agreed to make some Lebanese food for an international event we were having. Then I panicked. The only thing I had ever made was hummus. I thought about calling the aunts to get some recipes. What was I thinking, they don’t use recipes. My only consolation is that Siti was 1800 miles away and wouldn’t have to see or taste anything I tried to pass off as Lebanese food. Your recipes for spinach pies and baklawa were so great and easy to follow. Your recipes have been a fabulous panacea for our lack of any middle eastern food here in Oklahoma. Thank you.

    • Maureen Abood on March 8, 2014 at 1:56 PM

      That’s so great (and funny!) Angie, thank you! I love knowing you’re finding a taste of delicious Lebanese food from my site, in Oklahoma.

  47. Yvette on April 15, 2014 at 1:03 PM

    Oh, your recipe looks wonderful and how I love Lebanese food and, ofcourse Lebanese People! I have some in me, from my Mother’s side, my Great Grandparents (Macksouds)were from Lebanon. God bless you and your Family and thank you for sharing.!

    • Maureen Abood on April 15, 2014 at 10:58 PM

      How great Yvette! We have Macksouds in Michigan too. Blessings on you and yours and please keep in touch!

  48. Vanita Mirchandani on April 15, 2014 at 1:21 PM

    These look delicious.
    I made some with a pepper and cheese filling and used
    refrigerated biscuit dough.But had a similar problem of keeping them closed.
    Some stayed close and some opened up.Maybe will try using toothpicks next time.

    • Maureen Abood on April 15, 2014 at 10:58 PM

      My grandmother sometimes used biscuit dough, according to my mom. Your cheese filling sounds delicious, Vanita!

  49. Teresa Sawaya on April 15, 2014 at 5:57 PM

    My mother and grandmother, (from Zahle) called them “Sfeeha”….made with meat filling…have any of your other bloggers used this term? Love them and so healthy too!

    • Maureen Abood on April 15, 2014 at 10:54 PM

      Oh yes Teresa, I love sfeha with the meat filling which are the hallmark pies from Ba’albek and Zahle. There is a great recipe for them in my upcoming cookbook!

  50. Julia on April 25, 2014 at 12:53 PM

    Great site, thanks for sharing the recipes. My mom had Lebanese heritage. We baked the lamb fatayers, but she sent me to a store to buy the spinach fatayers.

    Will try baking them soon, though it will make me emotional.

    • Maureen Abood on April 25, 2014 at 2:07 PM

      Thank you Julia–the emotion of our food is half the flavor. Enjoy.

  51. Olivia on April 25, 2014 at 9:27 PM

    Hi Maureen,
    I could not wait until I finished baking these little beauties before commenting. With flour all over the laptop, oily fingers and a mouthful of the best fatayer dough I have ever eaten, I bless you. I stumbled across your website and instantly had faith your recipe would work. You sounded like you knew you what you were on about lol. I had no problem working with the dough and thankfully none popped open. Thank you for posting and I can’t wait to try out more of your recipes. Congratulations on the award too.
    Love, all the way from down under Sydney, Australia.

    • Maureen Abood on April 25, 2014 at 10:32 PM

      How great Olivia, thanks so much! I’m glad you like this fatayar recipe as much as I do, and that yours came out so well “down under”! Thanks and please keep in touch!

  52. Maz on April 27, 2014 at 7:42 AM

    Hey Maureen,

    Have you tried adding Sumac and Pomegranate molasses to the filling? That’s how I do it, and it tastes heavenly.

    I agree the dough is the trickiest part. I use a recipe by Barbara Abdeni Massaad, which calls for using a combination of cake flour and bread flour. It’s the same dough recipe for making mana’eesh. The dough is good. However, they don’t always stay closed. 🙂

    • Maureen Abood on April 27, 2014 at 10:22 PM

      Hello, and thank you! I love Barbara’s recipes too, especially for the za’atar flatbread. Love the sumac and pomegranate molasses here too!

  53. Mary Leo on May 2, 2014 at 1:42 PM

    I’m so glad I found you! My mom used to make fathad along with all kinds of Syrian/Lebanese food. Boy, I wish I had paid more attention!!!
    My fathad always comes out runny (beef and spinach) and it soaks through the dough. Then when you try to eat it, the bottom falls out. 🙁
    I’ll try your method using fresh spinach. Do you think I should pre-cook it first to get the juices out?

    • Maureen Abood on May 6, 2014 at 12:07 PM

      Hello! You can pre-cook frozen spinach to dry it out (in a dry pan) but cooking the fresh spinach will just make it too moist. Let me know how it goes! I’m glad you’re here!

  54. Aunt Anne and Uncle Tom say Happy Birthday from the kitchen ! on May 2, 2014 at 10:01 PM

    Hi Maureen, Thanks for a great recipe. Coincidentally I just finished baking a batch of 50 for a party.
    Have to admit: To save time, I used a couple bags of frozen dough balls (Krogers freezer) quick thawed in a warmed oven in one hour. Meanwhile make a marinade of 1/4 cup olive oil; juice of 1- 1/2 lemons and some grated lemon peel; 4 large garlic cloves, minced; ground sea salt; pepper; a tsp. sumac.
    Add to this an entire container (Costco) of fresh organic spinach–chopped fine in processor; 1 large onion, chopped fine; 2 good handfuls pine nuts, pan roasted in a bit of olive oil; about 1 cup of feta cheese, broken into fine pieces; Let the mix soak up the marinade while you pat out about 10 dough rounds at a time on a floured counter . Preheat oven to 425 convection, or 450 regular, and line an oiled cookie sheet with parchment paper brushed with olive oil.
    Whisk two eggs with a tsp. water till frothy and brush pies all over with the egg wash. Bake for about 10-12 minutes till golden brown. Personally, I don’t mind if a few open up while in the oven. They look like little pizzas, oozing with a lovely juice that sometimes spills onto the parchment and gets crusty and homemade Of course, we eat those ones right away and save the “perfect ones” for the party 🙂
    Bon appetite, Sweetie!

    • Maureen Abood on May 8, 2014 at 1:33 PM

      Aunt Anne, your recipe sounds SO delicious–thank you! I will be trying it!

  55. Klinger on May 29, 2014 at 2:59 AM

    These look fantastic, just like my mother makes, and I bet they taste delicious!

    • Maureen Abood on May 29, 2014 at 7:51 AM

      I’ll take that as a high compliment to be compared to your mother’s fatayar! Thank you!

  56. Steve on July 19, 2014 at 7:57 PM

    Fantastic recipe- thank you!!
    Everyone that tried them loved them. Many commented that they tastes better than
    The one we buy from the Lebanese bakery’s.
    I added feta & mozzarella to your lovely recipe.
    Thank you!
    Steve

    • Maureen Abood on July 20, 2014 at 8:46 PM

      How great, Steve! The cheese sounds like a wonderful addition….

  57. aeljachi@gmail.com on July 24, 2014 at 12:00 PM

    Hi,
    The photos look exactly like the fatayer of my childhood and I will definitely try it this week. However, I have two remarks:
    Summaq is more a must than a choice, in my opinion.
    “½ teaspoon cinnamon or allspice”, cinnamon sounds out of place as well as the two spices do not relate to or substitute for each other.
    Thanks
    AJ

    • Maureen Abood on July 24, 2014 at 2:10 PM

      Thank you AJ–I use cinnamon or allspice not because they are a substitute, but because either one is delicious and one or the other is often used in our regional cooking. My extended family never used sumac as a flavoring in the pies but I have tried it and it’s lovely!

  58. aeljachi@gmail.com on July 24, 2014 at 12:25 PM

    Two more things:
    – Swiss Chard could replace spinach filling or mixed with it
    – Thyme added to the filling is a great flavor enhancer
    Thanks
    AJ

  59. Liz on August 1, 2014 at 6:16 PM

    My mother always added olive oil to the spinach and onion mix. She said to make the spinach mix similar to making Lebanese spinach salad. I am curious to see how it tastes with oil only brushed on the top of the dough.

    • Maureen Abood on August 5, 2014 at 6:34 AM

      I’ll be interested to know what you think of this method, Liz!

  60. shelly on August 6, 2014 at 2:22 PM

    My grandmother used to make pies with spinich or dandelion greens and used to use cream cheese and pine nuts. Can’t seem to find a recipe using cream cheese. Can anyone help? Thanks

    • Maureen Abood on August 11, 2014 at 7:01 AM

      Shelly, that sounds delicious. You could just add 3 ounces of cream cheese to the spinach mixture here. Be sure to soften the cream cheese first and stir it well on its own before stirring it into the spinach.

  61. Michael on September 8, 2014 at 6:26 PM

    Awesome like Tita made

  62. Mary on September 17, 2014 at 11:21 AM

    I love this recipe.
    My mother in law is Lebonese, she made spinach pies years ago, I was so happy I ran across this recipe, delicious. There is only one problem, not enough, my family wolves them down in no time.
    Can this recipe be doubled?

    • Maureen Abood on September 18, 2014 at 2:32 PM

      Hi Mary, and thank you! You sure can double this recipe; just be sure to add the water slowly and hold back so the dough doesn’t become too moist.

  63. bunny on October 3, 2014 at 6:51 PM

    I can’t wait to try your dough recipe. My grandmother used to make spinach pies by the ton, her dough was just perfect, a little chewy and perfectly seasoned and not too thick. I have not been able to replicate it, no matter how hard I try!!! I’ve been using bread dough, but its just not the same thing and too thick. So I can’t wait to let you know how they turned out! Thanks!

  64. steve george on October 27, 2014 at 1:41 AM

    We used your recipe with a twist! My mother use to make these with a meat and labne filling. We gave it a try and it came out great. Basically we precooked the meat and drained. Then we added the lemon,onion,salt,pepper and mixed in labne! Did everything else per your instructions. Unbelievable!
    Thanks for the great receipes!

    • Maureen Abood on October 28, 2014 at 9:27 AM

      Sounds delicious, Steve! Love meat with labne in fatayar!

  65. jak zadowolic kobiete on February 1, 2015 at 5:44 AM

    You ought to take part in a contest for one of the best blogs on the internet.
    I will recommend this website!

    • Maureen Abood on February 2, 2015 at 10:38 AM

      Thank you!

  66. Sam on March 15, 2015 at 8:19 PM

    Thank for the very good information about the spinach farayer.
    May I ask how best to store them after i take them out of the oven? Keep them out in a bread basket with a bread/cloth cover, refrigerate…? I do not want hem to gent soggy.

    • Maureen Abood on March 16, 2015 at 9:34 AM

      Hi Sam–thanks for your question. I keep them in the refrigerator if we’re eating them within a day, otherwise I freeze them. Either way, before serving I always reheat them in the oven, which takes care of any sogginess and makes them like new!

  67. Cleopatra on April 3, 2015 at 11:19 PM

    I have made spinach pies with my mother in law’s recipe a hundred times but this time I used your recipe but they came out dry and hard. I live in Southern Florida. Could the sea level have made a difference in your recipe.

    • Maureen Abood on April 4, 2015 at 9:02 AM

      Hi Cleopatra–how strange! I’ve made this dough many times in southwest Florida without an issue. Was the dough soft and sticky? I wonder if it needed more water.

  68. Lorraine on April 10, 2015 at 3:03 PM

    These are absolutely delicious! My best friend is from Lebanon and I grew up eating many Lebanese dishes. My favorite was always Spinach pie. Regretfully, I never learned from Mom how to make these. Your step by step recipe and authentic ingredients are a dead ringer and I make them every year. This year I will be taking them for my girlfriend’s family Easter-they are going to be thrilled. One note, I found that rubbing my finger tips in flour while pinching the pockets works very well in keeping them closed. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!

    • Maureen Abood on April 11, 2015 at 7:30 AM

      I’d like some of your fatayar Lorraine! I’m so happy you are making them!

  69. Christina Gabriel on April 21, 2015 at 8:12 PM

    Maureen-your website is wonderful! Thank you so much! I would like to make cheese filled ones. I was wondering if you had a suggestion for a combination of cheeses. Thank you!

    • Maureen Abood on April 27, 2015 at 7:49 AM

      Hello Christina–thank YOU so much! For cheese-filled fatayar, the options are wonderfully broad. Try a combo of feta with labneh or goat cheese with parmesan. Add some chopped scallions or chives or minced garlic and pinch of salt too.

  70. Nabiha on June 17, 2015 at 9:51 AM

    I absolutely cannot wait to make these! I want to store them up for Ramadan so my question is, can i freeze them raw and, to eat, simply pop them in the oven?

    • Maureen Abood on June 25, 2015 at 9:10 AM

      Hello Nabiha! If you freeze them raw, flash freeze them on sheet pans and then you can put them in zip-locks to freeze. I typically bake them and then freeze them, then to serve just reheat them in a 350 degree oven and they’re perfect.

  71. Serenity on July 30, 2015 at 12:44 AM

    Hello, so gkad I found this recipe. I was wondering how far in advance would I be able to make these without having to freeze them? Also, what would I do on the day of serving them? And if I end up freezing them? I would like to make them for company, but I have to do it in advance. Thanks for your time!

    • Maureen Abood on July 30, 2015 at 10:54 AM

      You can make the pies up to two days in advance, keeping them in the refrigerator in an airtight container–reheat them in the oven at about 325 degrees until they are warmed through. To reheat frozen pies, defrost in the refrigerator overnight, then reheat same as the others. You can also reheat straight from frozen, just keep the oven at a lower temp and bake a little longer so as to warm them through without over-browning the exterior.

  72. Judi on November 12, 2015 at 8:37 AM

    I’m wondering why so much yeast. It seems to me that you wouldn’t want the fatayr to puff up while baking.

    • Maureen Abood on November 12, 2015 at 11:22 AM

      Judi–they don’t puff up–there is just one rise to the dough, and the oil and water keep it thin and sticky. The recipe works beautifully!

  73. Jeannine on November 15, 2015 at 10:53 PM

    I am so happy I found you (by mistake)! I used to make spinach pies years ago. My mom taught me and I lost the recipe. Yours is perfect. We typically do Lebanese for Thanksgiving. I can’t wait to bring these back to the table.

    • Maureen Abood on November 17, 2015 at 2:27 PM

      Wonderful Jeannine! Enjoy!

  74. Caroline on November 29, 2015 at 6:20 AM

    Hi Maureen,
    where you ve been hiding Maureen !! your recipies are amacing!!
    I want to thank you so much ! I made the spinach and meat pies and they turned perfect ! just exactly how my mom makes them in Palestine !!Thank you again ! I am going to try more and more of your recipe
    Caroline

    • Maureen Abood on November 29, 2015 at 11:02 PM

      Wonderful! Thank you!

  75. Maureen Sharib on December 5, 2015 at 10:22 AM

    Hi,
    I made these today and ran a second batch of dough after the first batch didn’t rise.
    I purchased a three pack of Fleischmann yeast yesterday at Kroger (exp date 2017) and used warm not hot water but still the dough didn’t rise as well as the the meat pie dough I made the other day w/ your meat pie recipe.

    Any idea what I’m doing wrong?

    The filling is delicious BTW and for your info I don’t mind the dough but my fussy Lebanese husband with the wonderful Lebanese cook mother notices.

    • Maureen Abood on December 7, 2015 at 9:23 AM

      Hmmm. There are days when my dough comes out differently too, or doesn’t rise. You tried fresh yeast which would be my first thought too. Did the yeast seem to activate before you added it to the mix? If it doesn’t get creamy and bubbly fairly swiftly I always throw it out and start again, thinking my water may have been too warm or some other condition affected it.

  76. Ronnie on December 9, 2015 at 12:43 PM

    Hi Maureen; These little treats are to die for, my Mom made them , she added raisins to the mixture, gives them a spiced up

  77. Ronnie on December 9, 2015 at 12:49 PM

    Hi Maureen; These little treats are to die for, my Mom made them & she added raisins to the mixture, gives them a spiced up
    taste………….Thanks for a great site……………….

  78. Deidre on December 20, 2015 at 6:54 PM

    Merry Christmas Maureen,
    I just finished baking these for our Christmas dinner. Meat fatayar and kibbe sanee in the freezer; ma’amoul in containers. My kitchen has the aroma I remember from my grandmother’s kitchen when we would arrive in Michigan each summer for our annual visit. Oh how I wish she were still here to ask her how to do this or that! Thank you–your recipes are so close to hers. Grandma Namey was known to be a great cook!
    Deidre

  79. alicia on February 24, 2016 at 3:30 PM

    Thank you for a great looking recipe but more importantly, thank you for working out all the kinks! How frustrating it can be when you know how a recipe should turn out, but for one reason or another you’re not quite there. I look forward to trying this one out. As an aside, I find that putting a small handful of thawed, chopped spinach in a clean dish towel, gathering the towel into a small bundle and squeezing it is extremely effective in getting all the excess water out. Married to a Greek, I’m much more liable to make spanakopita using this shortcut. Thanks again!

  80. Roger Toomey on February 27, 2016 at 10:00 AM

    Now that I read this I do remember my Grandmother squeezing vegetables. But I didn’t pay attention to what they were going into or ever ask why she did anything she did with cooking. I guess the answer was in the genes all the time.

  81. Hilly Abbasi on March 30, 2016 at 11:36 PM

    Hi, I was wondering how much salt to use to macerate the spinach. Whenever I try it always comes out too salty in flavor. Thanks!

    • Maureen Abood on April 4, 2016 at 11:42 AM

      Hilly, I call for a teaspoon of kosher salt. Regular iodized table salt is saltier. Cut back by half if yours is too salty; you can always taste your filling and add more salt if needed!

  82. Claudia Kramer on April 26, 2016 at 8:21 AM

    Maureen, I made these last night and it totally transported me back to my time spent in Lebanon. So delish. I came by some fresh spinach at the farmers market and having found your awesome blog just a day before I just couldn`t help myself! I will make sure to try the meat filled version very soon! Have you posted about a cheese filled variation? I remember those from Beirut. I´m also dying to try the knafe. I remember it being the perfect hangover food after a night of partying in Beirut. Sometimes I have a nightmare wandering around Beirut not being able to find knafe. So this is totally happening soon! Cheerio from Munich in Germany

    • Maureen Abood on April 26, 2016 at 11:49 AM

      Cheerio to you too! What I’d give for a night out partying in Beirut! I agree about the cheese variation: must post it! I have a recipe for labneh-filled fatayar in my book.

  83. Zelda on May 1, 2016 at 5:34 PM

    I’ve been making spinach fatayer for years using a bread dough recipe that approximated the look but missed the taste and texture completely. Your recipe worked perfectly the first time and now I can make authentic fatayer that will stand up to the standards of family in Montreal and Lebanon.Thank you so much. Now I have fatayer that can compete with the experts.

    • Maureen Abood on May 2, 2016 at 12:03 PM

      This makes my day Zelda! Thank you!

  84. Reem Khamis on May 30, 2016 at 1:59 PM

    Love that I finally found a recipe that makes sense and looks delicious. I’m wondering if I can make the dough ahead and freeze it to be thawed and filled a few days later? Would it be better to free the whole dough or after its cut into rounds?

    • Maureen Abood on May 31, 2016 at 10:27 PM

      Great! You can freeze the whole dough, since this is cut out rather than pulled into balls as some fatayar recipes call for.

  85. Jean on June 26, 2016 at 12:28 AM

    Excellent dough recipe. I used it to make a meat filled Senegalese fataya / fataya.

  86. Anne Abowd on July 31, 2016 at 12:23 PM

    Thanks Maureen, for a reminder about how fatayer should be made, by a pro. My recipe was a response in how to do this in a hurry and on short notice. The idea for an egg wash came from my daughter Lizzy, and solved my usual problem of the tops not browning well. It leaves a lovely crusty glow to the pies even if they insist on opening up in the baking. Also, the cheese adds a nice flavor and soaks up some of the marinade. Some of your cousins here have gone “vegan” or at least vegetarian, but never complain about the ones mixed with some feta. They go into denial mode, you might say…and that’s fine with me 🙂

    • Maureen Abood on August 2, 2016 at 10:59 AM

      I love this Aunt Anne! Egg wash would be beautiful, and the cheese delicious!

  87. Athba on August 25, 2016 at 7:16 PM

    Question. How did you get the fatayr not to open when having it in the oven because mine did. But it tastes amazing though. Thank you

  88. Greenporte on December 11, 2016 at 8:52 AM

    Hi Maureen, we are accustomed to some of the best spinach fataya outside of Lebanon (Naya Express, NYC) but we moved away and now pick up dozens only when visit the city. So I made your recipe and, while it is excellent, my dough was not nearly as thin as Naya’s — a little bready. Might it might need more oil?

    Thx!
    Jim

    • Maureen Abood on December 18, 2016 at 11:58 PM

      Well I’m so glad you like the recipe–I’m surprised you found this doughy, since it’s made to be rolled thinly with ease. If you are having trouble rolling the dough out,maybe it’s not sticky enough or is rising too long. Keep the dough sticky by not using any flour to roll it out; make sure to do just one rise of the dough and not for much more than 90 minutes.

  89. kim on December 16, 2016 at 10:22 AM

    In terms of making these in advance for a house gathering, can they be assembled in advance, refrigerated uncooked, then popped into the oven before the guests arrive, or do you recommend baking them after assembling, and reheating after that???
    These have always been a favorite, and would like to try them for the holidays….

    • Maureen Abood on December 18, 2016 at 11:55 PM

      Great question–I always bake them before freezing or refrigerating. They reheat beautifully.

  90. Anna Khouri Rumsey on December 19, 2016 at 2:52 AM

    I have a shortcut for flattening the dough. When I make spinach pies, I usually do 6-8 dozen at a time for my large family for Christmas, etc. One of my most poignant memories is from many Christmases back about 20 years. I took care of my Sitty– she lived here with me. At about age 97, she stayed out in the kitchen with my husband and I making spinach pies. I rolled dough, she filled it and my husband pinched the sides together. We must have made about 8 dozen or so. She lived to be 102. She taught me all her recipes and I should have written them down– I just do them by rote pretty much. Anyway– my shortcut is to use my pasta maker to sheet the dough. Just pass it through a couple of times, it will be the perfect thin-ness to make the pies. Be blessed.

    • Maureen Abood on December 22, 2016 at 8:46 PM

      This is something! What a great family you have, and what a great idea for the pasta maker…will have to try it!

  91. dan on December 23, 2016 at 11:50 PM

    Made this reciepie last year for xmas eve,I hope they turn out like they did last year cause they were so good i’m doing them again,noticed they tasted better the next day because lemon marinated with spinach better than same day,so this time I’m gonna let spinach mix rest overnight to marinate,hope its not to much,I doubt it but I’l find out.thanks for recipie,tastesed just like a Lebanese bakery I used to stop at as a kid,still haven’t tried with lamb pie makeing myself maybe some day soon.
    Happy New Year

  92. Jenny on January 8, 2017 at 9:11 AM

    I’m really excited to try to make these tonight, but I may cheat a bit using refrigerated Pillsbury (thin) pizza dough. Do you think this would work? Can you offer any pointers for using a refrigerated dough?

    • Maureen Abood on January 9, 2017 at 9:40 PM

      Hi Jenny–My mom used frozen dough on occasion but I don’t have experience with the refrigerated. Anyone else? I suspect it will be tasty if not as thin and wholesome as homemade.

  93. Sunny on January 15, 2017 at 7:03 PM

    These look amazing, and I love that you’ve started including and adding more vegan recipes in your repertoire. I will be sharing those around for sure!!

    • Maureen Abood on January 23, 2017 at 6:18 PM

      Fantastic, thank you! Lebanese cuisine includes all kinds of vegan recipes! Many are in my cookbook as well.

  94. Lila Kaylor on March 1, 2017 at 6:37 PM

    Hi. Loved the part about th spinach ones opening!!! My Mother and Sito always pinched them in a square because if this reason. Leaving an opening on the top. It was awesome that way. The lamb filled ines are my favorite and no matter what they look like not a soul complains because they are delicious

    • Maureen Abood on March 10, 2017 at 11:24 AM

      Amen!

  95. Christine on March 11, 2017 at 4:16 PM

    Hi Maureen,
    Thank you for sharing such lovely recipes.
    How much water would you recommend if I use already activated yeast?
    Many thanks x
    Christine

    • Maureen Abood on March 11, 2017 at 4:28 PM

      Thank you so much Christine! Still use the same amount called for and it ought to work perfectly.

  96. Rena on April 2, 2017 at 4:12 PM

    Hi Maureen,
    Thank you for your wonderful recipes. My fatayar turned out crispy instead of soft and chewy. I thought I followed the recipe exactly. The dough was soft and sticky, the filling is fantastic. What could I have done wrong?

    • Maureen Abood on April 3, 2017 at 11:06 AM

      Hi Rena…hmmm…it sounds to me like bake time might have been a little long? Also they tend to get softer as they cool, with the moisture from the filling permeating the dough.

  97. Amy O'Neill Houck on May 25, 2017 at 2:36 PM

    I feel like I’ve found a kindred spirit–I haven’t been to cooking school, just Sitto school, but I definitely get the perfection bug in my baking from time to time, and I totally have the same frustration with spinach fatayer. Love your blog! –Amy O’Neill (Markos) Houck (an Irish-Syrian-etc. living in Alaska)

    • Maureen Abood on May 26, 2017 at 5:58 AM

      Amy, hello! And thank you so much! How nice to have another Sitto-school friend here!

  98. crystal herndon on August 26, 2017 at 12:29 AM

    Is there a way to make the dough gluten free? Thanks!

    • Maureen Abood on August 26, 2017 at 10:00 AM

      Crystal, I have not developed a gluten-free dough recipe for this, but maybe someone reading here does and can shed some light!

  99. Linda on September 14, 2017 at 8:33 AM

    Hi Maureen- I love this recipe and I have been making them consistently (with a few small tweaks to the spinach prep) and they have been coming out wonderfully.

    I have a question for you: Do you know the shelf life of these? Normally I refrigerate them for a couple of days after baking while we eat them., but I also feel like I have seen them in bakeries in cases that are not refrigerated. I am wanting to send some in the mail to a friend but I am curious if you have had any experience in that. It would probably take 2 days for the package to arrive. Any input would be helpful. Thanks!

    • Maureen Abood on September 15, 2017 at 11:44 AM

      Hi Linda–I haven’t tried this but I don’t know that they’d do so well out of refrigeration for two days. Maybe try leaving a few out in a box at home and seeing how they do to test it out?

  100. mariam on December 26, 2017 at 4:41 AM

    hi…i always have trouble getting them to stay sealed for the bake..so much work and i want a pretty traingle! yes squuezed dry ..sticky dough but i just dunno…any other tips or ideas..PLEASE!

    • Maureen Abood on December 29, 2017 at 8:35 AM

      I hear you Miriam. I’m going to post more about tips and info for making fatayar soon. Stay tuned!!

  101. Ann Matchinsky on December 31, 2017 at 10:24 AM

    Maureen, I’ve been making this recipe since your book came out. The dough is the best tasting, easiest handling I’ve found for any type of little savory pie. As with all of your recipes I’ve tried, it has become the standard I go to. I work in a bookstore and there are two cookbooks I recommend every chance I get; yours and The Model Bakery Cookbook. Thought you might be familiar with it given your bay area connections! Your book is a treasure, thank you.

    • Maureen Abood on January 1, 2018 at 9:03 PM

      Ann, you made my day! Thank you so much. I’m putting The Model Bakery book on my hit list immediately…

  102. Ahlam on January 1, 2018 at 5:14 PM

    Hi Maureen,

    I’ve tried this recipe a few times, and find it incredibly sticky–so sticky that my rolling pin just gets stuck! Any tips? Will adding another cup of floor take away from the dough? Thanks!

    • Maureen Abood on January 1, 2018 at 9:08 PM

      Hi Ahlam–oh goodness!! Try holding back on the water, about 1/4 cup, adding a tablespoon at a time and stopping as soon as the dough is sticky (but no dough sticks to your hands). This will be better than adding flour. Let me know how that works for you!

  103. Simone on February 1, 2018 at 6:17 PM

    Hi Maureen! I’ve just recently begun trying to cook the recipes that my Teta and aunties perfected over the course of their long lives. Your method for spinach fatayars has proven the best I’ve tried so far. Thank you for helping me to perfect this special dish. I’m not there yet, but I’ll keep trying!

    Sincerely,
    Simone Seikaly
    Salt Lake City, Utah

    • Maureen Abood on February 7, 2018 at 10:59 PM

      Wonderful! I’m so glad Simone. Thank you!

  104. Grace Maroun on February 9, 2018 at 5:38 PM

    Hi! Have you tried refrigerating extra dough? Does it keep well or does the texture change?

    • Maureen Abood on February 12, 2018 at 9:53 AM

      I find that any additional rising time isn’t great for this dough, since we’re after a thinner pie dough. I haven’t tried but you could give freezing the extra dough a whirl!

  105. Maria A. on September 21, 2018 at 8:57 AM

    Love these little pies of goodness! So versatile a vehicle for all types of fillings. I am going to make the spinach and roasted pine nut version for my next wedding reception catering event. Fabulous recipe! Thanks for sharing.

    • Maureen Abood on September 21, 2018 at 11:21 PM

      How great, perfect for weddings!

  106. Lori on November 27, 2018 at 5:13 PM

    Hi,

    Can I make my Fatayar and freeze it until needed and then pull it out and bake it? I have a party coming up and I wanted to make a bunch of these in advance.

    • Maureen Abood on November 28, 2018 at 6:12 AM

      Hi Lori–absolutely, but go ahead and bake the fatayar, then freeze them. Warm them in a low oven (150-170 degrees) til they’re warmed through before serving, and they will be same as fresh-baked. If they seem dry at all on top, brush with a touch of olive oil or melted butter.

  107. Cindy A on April 12, 2019 at 6:01 AM

    Hi Maureen, have you made these with whole wheat flour? My husband and I are going to make these for Easter. Crossing my fingers that they stay closed!

    • Maureen Abood on April 14, 2019 at 8:47 AM

      Cindy, I think what would work well is a mix of whole wheat and all-purpose flours. My pita recipe in my cookbook is a mix and it’s great. I haven’t tried it with the fatayar dough–let us know how it goes!!! Keep the dough somewhat sticky for better closure, no flour on the roll-out and one rise for the dough.

  108. Ashley on May 19, 2019 at 3:05 PM

    Hi Maureen! Would you happen to know of a version that is cheese-only? The Lebanese food festival in Richmond, VA does a version with cream cheese, feta, onion, etc. and it is to DIE for!!

    • Maureen Abood on May 21, 2019 at 10:16 AM

      Ashley, that sounds delicious! I have a recipe in my cookbook that is labneh-only, with scallions and mint. I’ll have to get after one here on my blog too!

  109. Jan Rines on January 1, 2020 at 9:24 AM

    Maureen, perhaps this suggestion is already listed (I’m not going to read through all of those comments!)… have you tried the ‘Martha S.’ approach? Squeeze the spinach in a ricer. Its amazing how much water you can get out, with the bonus that its much less messy than covering your hands, towels, etc. with spinach juice.

    • Maureen Abood on January 2, 2020 at 8:41 AM

      Hi Jan–I love the idea and would love to try it. Thank you for encouraging all of us to get the water out with a ricer! Sounds like I need to get one!

  110. Suhail sahhar on March 22, 2020 at 3:41 PM

    Maureen my mother made the perfect fat Ayer sabanegh. I remember with mom she was always very patient with her cooking. It was like art being created. She was never in a hurry. I feel we live in such a time that we want everything microwave speed. But the best food like art takes time.

    • Maureen Abood on March 26, 2020 at 7:23 AM

      We have soooo much to learn from mothers like yours. Patience and care, patience and care. Thank you for the beautiful reminder.

  111. Madeleine G. on March 24, 2020 at 4:33 PM

    I came across your website and recipes in a quest to reclaim a bit of family history! My jiddi passed away this past summer, and with it many secret ingredients, tips, and drinks. In the aftermath of his passing, I managed to master his infamous Kibbeh recipe! I’m now on a personal quest to learn all the recipes from my childhood and bring them back to the family table. Thank you for your lovely articles! I can no longer pick up the phone to pester my jiddi about his recipes, but I feel newfound confidence in your writing.

    • Maureen Abood on March 26, 2020 at 7:21 AM

      Madeleine, this is precious. I’m so sorry about the loss of your Jiddi, so hard. He’d be thrilled wouldn’t he that you are making all of our wonderful recipes?! I am too. Please let me know any questions and love hear more about what you’re making. It’s my honor to be on this meaningful journey with you.

  112. Amy Wazwaz on February 17, 2022 at 10:23 AM

    I am an American Muslim married to a Palestinian, I tweaked my spinach pie recipe from a normal one like yours, but I found everyone loves it now. I do not put onions in mine. I use fresh spinach. Approx one bag makes five spinach pies. I usually make between 12-17 bags of spinach at once and will make approx 75 plus spinach pies. They last a day max. I use Rhodes frozen rolls. It makes perfect dough everytime. I add lots of sumac, lemon juice, cumin and salt from the very beginning after I have chopped it all up. I mix it throughly in big bowl. Let it set for at least three hours stirring often. I drain all the liquid I can get out of it before using it. Yes, pretty much squeezing it to death in handfuls after handfuls. I also pinch mine. I know many who do the fold over method. But I just can not get myself to do it. After baking I brush them with olive oil and cover them with towels to cool and soften up. To my surprise. As an American most of my husbands family say my spinach pies are the best. But my family loves the sour insides of them and the dough turning out perfectly everytime is a major help.

    Now you made me very hungry for them, and we just moved into a new house with a horribly crappy double oven set. I ordered new ovens but still have to wait almost two more weeks before they will stove and be installed. Convection ovens really make such a great experience when baking foods like these.

    • Maureen Abood on February 20, 2022 at 3:31 PM

      Amy I love this! Thank you for sharing, your fatayer sound soooo good. I hope your new oven arrives SOON!

  113. Virginia on March 5, 2022 at 3:41 PM

    Well, I’m a little late to the party, but I’m making spinach fatayer today, and thought I’d chime in on the spinach.

    I use frozen spinach … it has less liquid to begin with. I absolutely hate the process of squeezing fresh spinach. So I cook it first. I just dump it in a skillet with olive oil, and stir and saute until it’s nice and dry, adding the onions at some point in the process. Once that mixture is out of the pan, I toast the pine nuts in it. It’s so much easier than squeezing!

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Maureen Abood in the kitchen

I'm so glad you're here! You'll find among these pages the fresh and classic Lebanese recipes we can't get enough of! My mission is to share my tried + true recipes -- and to help our Lebanese food-loving community keep these culinary traditions alive and on the table. What recipes are you looking for? Let me know!

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