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Recipe of the week - Cheese and spinach pastries (Middle East)

small planet cover Meat Free Monday Recipe!
The Small Planet Vegetarian Cookbook introduces a global spread of delicious low-impact vegetarian dishes. There’s something particularly enticing about a meal made up of several ‘small’ dishes, as with Middle Eastern mezze or Spanish tapas. Troth Wells has taken this style of cooking and enjoying food and given it an exciting global dimension.

Some of the best non-meat dishes come from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East and we have selected a range of highlights.

You can order a copy.

Serves: 15-20
Takes: 45 minutes

One of the benefits of spinach is that it – or similar iron-rich dark leafy greens – are available pretty much anywhere. Spinach has a high nutritional value, including bone-healthy vitamin K and anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids; it is also rich in antioxidants, especially when fresh, steamed, or quickly boiled. These Middle Eastern pastries can also be made just using the cheese or just with spinach.

½ pound / 225 g filo sheets
½ pound / 225 g feta cheese, crumbled, or cottage cheese or ricotta
1 pound / 450 g spinach, chopped
½ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon grated nutmegimage
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, dill or fennel, or a mix of these, chopped
melted butter or margarine

Heat oven to 180oC/350oF/Gas 4
1 Put the cheese into a bowl and combine it with the ground allspice, nutmeg, parsley, dill or fennel, using a fork to make a paste.
2 Cook the spinach in a very little water until it is soft. Drain it well, allow to cool and then squeeze out any excess water. Put it into the bowl with the cheese mixture and the pepper (feta cheese will not require any salt).
3 As you use them, cut each filo sheet into rectangular strips about 4 in/10 cm wide x 15 in/38 cm long. Keep the remaining sheets covered as they dry out very quickly and become brittle.
4 Put a little heap of the cheese and spinach mixture at one end of the pastry. Roll into a cigar shape, lightly brushing the other end of the strip with melted butter or margarine to seal. Fold in the sides to contain the filling.
5 Repeat this until you have used up the ingredients. Place the rolls on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or so until they are crispy. Leave to cool slightly before serving

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