Zucchini, herb and cheese borek

I was thwarted recently with my plans to bake a multitude of pies but you didn’t think I’d give up so easily did you?

A beautiful, golden borek

A beautiful, golden borek

This past weekend I held a second Pie day, inviting three friends over to eat the results. I’d been hankering to try my hand at a borek and since my other pie was a traditional beef and red wine number, settled on a vegetarian one.

All coiled and ready for final basting

All coiled and ready for final basting

Boreks ;(sometimes spelt burek) are a savoury pastry eaten in Macedonian, Bulgarian and Greek cultures to name a few but the general consensus is that they’re of Turkish origin. The wide culinary influence of Ottoman cuisine stems from the spread of the Ottoman empire which existed for over 600 years and controlled the spice route. I’ve seen it claimed quite a few times that the great cuisines of the world are French, Chinese and Turkish. Not that I’m taking any sides! When it comes to my stomach, I’m very much equal opportunity.

The traditional borek ;pastry is yufta ;which is similar to filo ;(phyllo) pastry. Yufta ;is hard to find and I’m not actually crazy enough to try to make it so I used filo ;instead. This particular borek ;has a cool spiral effect that holds together when you cut it into wedges to serve. Best of all, I rolled the borek ;coil in less than 10 minutes. It’s the lazy person’s dream pie; impressive yet easy. Instead of the usual basting with butter, this recipe used a yoghurt, egg and olive oil mixture so the end result feels quite light.

Grllled zucchini, feta, ricotta, dill, mint and crushed red chilli

Grilled zucchini, feta, ricotta, dill, mint and crushed red chilli

I devised a grilled zucchini (courgette), cheese and herb filling which turned out to be incredibly addictive. As my friend Kitty sometimes says to describe delicious food, I almost wanna marry it. It’d be fantastic stirred into soft scrambled eggs, in a sandwich, as an omelette filling or just eaten as a chunky dip. If you can’t be bothered to grill the zucchini, I also think roasted red capsicums (peppers) that you can buy would be a good alternative. The red pepper flakes give a subtle kick that really sets it all off so don’t leave it out. Next time, I may even add half a cup of toasted pine nuts into the mix.

Cut into a wedge, check out the cool spirals

Cut into a wedge, check out the cool spirals

Feeds: 4 people
Start cooking:
2 hours before eating

Zucchini, herb and cheese borek
Adapted from eatingclub ;vancouver

  • 375 grams x filo pastry, fresh or thawed
  • 450 grams x zucchini (aka courgette)
  • 200 grams x feta cheese, crumbled
  • 200 grams x fresh ricotta cheese (can replace with cottage cheese or quark)
  • 1 teaspoon x red chilli flakes
  • 1/2 cup x fresh dill leaves, chopped
  • 3/4 cup x fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon x olive oil

Borek ;basting mixture

  • 1 x egg
  • 1/2 cup x plain Greek style yoghurt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  1. Lightly whisk an egg in a bowl.
  2. Stir in 1/4 cup each of plain yoghurt and olive oil until smooth and combined.

Borek ;filling

  1. Top and tail the zucchini and cut lengthways into 2mm thick slices.
  2. Heat up a grill plan with a light spray of vegetable oil and cook the slices until just pliable with light brown grill marks. Set aside for 10 minutes until cool.
  3. In the meantime, combine the feta, ricotta, crushed chilli flakes, tablespoon of olive oil and fresh herbs in a large bowl.
  4. Preheat ;your oven to 200 C/ 400 F.
  5. Cut the cooled zucchini into short 1cm wide strips and gently fold into the cheese mixture.

Folding the borek pastry

  1. Line a baking tray with baking paper or lightly spray with vegetable oil.
  2. Take two sheets of filo ;pastry and lay down on your kitchen bench. Baste liberally with the yoghurt-egg mixture and then gently lay another filo ;sheet on top.
  3. Place an inch wide line of filling along the long edge of the filo ;pastry. Roll the pastry over like a sushi roll, keeping it even and relatively tight.
  4. Coil the resulting roll and place in the centre of your baking tray. This will form the centre of the borek.
  5. Continue with remaining ingredients until the filling is all used up, completing the rest of the borek coil.
  6. Baste the top of the entire borek with the yoghurt-egg mixture and bake in the preheated oven for 55 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool for two minutes before serving with a wedge of lemon, if desired. Wonderful eaten hot or cold, I think it’s perfect picnic food for summer.