Food

I’raas Sabanikh – Spinach Pies

As children, my siblings and I absolutely LOVED these pies. There was nothing better than coming home and finding a fresh baked batch of them.

We used to give these the nickname, “Mercedez Benz Pies” because they shape totally reminded us all of the car’s symbol.

The first time I made these, I struggled and tried to rush through steps. But the second time around I got them right! So please, don’t give up on these pies…because they are worth the time and effort.


Ingredients:

Makes 30-34 pies

Dough:
5 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 pinch turmeric (optional for color)
2 tablespoons dry milk (my mama and I love NIDO)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 packet yeast OR 2 1/4 teaspoons
2 cups warm water
1/2-3/4 cup oil (equal parts extra virgin olive oil and vegetable oil)

Spinach filling:
5-6 bunches of spinach Note: Try to stray away from using the bagged up baby spinach.
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
5-6 stalks green onion
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon sumac
1/2 lemon (optional)
1/2 teaspoon shatta (optional)

NOTE: Shatta is a Middle Eastern hot paste/sauce made of red chilis. International stores/Middle Eastern shops will carry it but you can also use cayenne pepper as an alternative. 


Step 1: Add sugar and yeast into a bowl and pour warm water over them. Stir and let it sit for about 10 minutes or until there is a frothy top. Be sure that the water is warm, not hot.

Step 2: Stir flour, salt, turmeric, and dry milk into a mixing bowl.

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Step 3: Begin adding the olive oil/vegetable oil and warm water to the dry ingredients. You may use a mixer with the dough hook or simply use your hands. I personally like going the old fashioned way and mixing the dough with my hands.

Step 4: If you feel like the dough is still dry and lumpy. You may add a small amount of additional warm water. I would stay add just a tablespoon at first. See if that helps get the dough to a nice consistency. You should be able to form the dough into a nice ball.

Step 5: Grease the bowl that the dough will be rising in with a bit of oil. Cover the bowl and wrap it up in a towel or blanket. Place it in a nice warm area and allow the dough to rise for about 1 1/2-2 hours.

Step 6: While the dough is rising, begin preparing the spinach stuffing. While the spinach is in a nice big bunch, I like to chop off as much of the steps as I can. Place all of the spinach into a very large mixing bowl or extra large foil tray. It may look like a lot of spinach, but trust me, in a bit you’re going to think otherwise.

Step 7: Rinse the spinach throughly. Two good rinses should be sufficient.

Step 8: Finely chop up the spinach and transfer back into a large bowl. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of salt and stir. Right away, the spinach is going to let out a TON of water and shrink in size.

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NOTE: I suggest giving it a taste to see if you’d like to add more salt. I tend to keep my measurements on the lighter side. You can always add more salt and spice — but not less. 

Step 9: Grab a handful of the spinach and wring out as much of the water as you can. Then transfer into a large bowl. Continue to do this to all of spinach. You’ll have a ton of dark green water left behind in the original bowl. It’s very important that you wring out as much of the water as possible. I made the mistake of leaving a lot of water behind the first time I made these pies and it made them very soggy.

Step 10: Finely chop up the green onion and add it to the spinach. Add the olive oil, sumac, and cumin. Taste the mixture. Continue to add spice based on your personal taste. You may add a bit of lemon if you desire. And if you’re looking for spice, add shatta or cayenne pepper to the mix.

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Step 11: Preheat oven to 375°F. When the dough has risen completely, begin creating 1 – 1 1/2 inch balls and setting them into a lined baking tray. Cover the dough balls for about 15 minutes.

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Step 12: After the 15 minutes has passed, pick up one ball of dough and roll it out into a nice flat circle using a rolling pin. Add about a tablespoon of the spinach mix and begin folding the spinach pie. Please refer to the Flipgram video below for folding steps.

Step 13: Place pies into a lined baking tray and right before placing them into the oven, give them all one last pinch to help make sure that they stay closed during the baking process. 

Step 14: Bake for about 12-15 minutes or until the tops and bottoms of each pie are golden brown.

NOTE: Be sure to set some aside and pop them into the freezer. You can simply pull them out and pop them into a toaster oven or microwave. Hot and fresh without all of the work! 🙂 

Sahtain!

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