Saturday, May 01, 2010

Zucchini Börek (Kabak Böreği)

I am secretly addicted to the show No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain. I say secretly because it usually comes on at 10pm at night--when I should be asleep--and I have to take advantage of every sleep opportunity with my very active, 7 month old daughter. But I digress. A couple of months ago the Travel Channel televised the Istanbul, Turkey episode. All the food in it looked amazing; the people seemed quite friendly and very family and food oriented; and it just seemed like a very fun and intriguing country to visit. 

Towards the end of this episode, Bourdain goes to a Turkish household and has dinner with the entire family. The mom made börek, which is her specialty. It is a pie made with zucchini and Turkish cheese and lots of dill. It looked amazing and I just had to try to make it. I couldn't find a recipe online or in my cookbooks that looked like the börek that was made in the show, but I did find this one on Almost Turkish Recipes. I made several modifications to the recipe because I wanted it to look like the one I saw on t.v., and yet, it was just delightfully yummy. I don't know if this is authentic zucchini börek, but I think I love this dish a lot more than spanakopita now.

  • 20 sheets of phyllo dough, thawed
  • 1/2 cup melted butter for brushing phyllo
For the filling
  • 3 zucchinis, grated
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped dill
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh mint
  • 1/2 cup crumbled Turkish white cheese or feta
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp spicy red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper
First off, let me start by saying I'm not from Turkey and I have never been to that lovely country, so I kind of made up this recipe while at the same time taking ideas and ingredient amounts from other recipes. So, this is what I did:
  1. Place the grated zuchinni in a muslin bag. Twist it as tight as you can and let it drip for an hour. Twist bag again and squeeze more water out and let it drip again another half hour. 
  2. Carefully remove the squeezed-dried zuchinni and place in large bowl. Add the egg, dill and mint. Next add the cheese, paprika, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper (I added 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper) and mix to combine. Let sit for 15 minutes.
  3. After 15 minutes, the mixture will be juicy. Place another muslin bag over a colander and add the mixture and let it drip out some of the juice for 15 more minutes.

  4. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees
  5. Take the zucchini mixture and blend it in a blender (you may have to do it in batches) for about 30 seconds. You don't want it smooth, just broken down a bit and with a little bit of texture to the mixture.
  6. Brush an 8x8x3 pyrex baking dish with some of the melted butter.
  7. Brush one sheet of phyllo with butter and place it in the baking dish (there will be overhang). Keep doing this with 9 more sheets.
  8. Pour the zuchini mixture and fold any of the over hang over the mixture.

  9. Next, brush another phyllo sheet with butter and place on top. Repeat with remaining 9 sheets. Tuck in any of the overhang into the sides or fold it over.
  10. Brush the top with more butter. Make several slits on top and sprinkle some water over over the phyllo.

  11. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes until golden brown.

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