Spinach Packages with Sesame and Za'atar
They may not be tied up with twine, but these packages are a joy all the same. They're generously spiced with cumin and caraway and dusted with sesame and za'atar. If you have family visiting for the holidays, put the extra hands to work folding fillo dough.
Makes 18 (3-inch) packages
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
10 ounces spinach
¼ teaspoon Aleppo pepper (or other ground red pepper)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon milk
8 sheets (13- by-18-inch) fillo dough, thawed in fridge overnight
1½ tablespoons pine nuts
Sesame seeds, for sprinkling
Za'atar, for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Place the cumin and caraway in a dry skillet set over medium heat. Toast the seeds, stirring often, until they smell very fragrant, about 3 minutes. Let cool slightly, then transfer the cumin and caraway to a mortar or spice grinder, and grind to a powder.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Swirl in the olive oil, then add the onion and ¼ teaspoon salt, and cook until the onion softens and begins to brown around the edges, about 3 - 4 minutes. Add the garlic to the skillet and cook for 1 minute more. Transfer the onion-and-garlic mixture to a large bowl.
Add the spinach and ½ teaspoon salt to the hot skillet and cook until the spinach wilts, about 2 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to move the spinach to the side of the skillet. Tilt the skillet and press on the spinach to release as much liquid as possible. Drain the liquid and transfer the spinach to the bowl. Stir in the ground spices, Aleppo pepper, and the zest of the lemon.
Make an egg wash by stirring together the egg and milk. Unroll the fillo dough sheets, stack them neatly, and cut into eighteen rectangles (approximately 3- by 5-inches). Place about 1 tablespoon of spinach filling and a few pine nuts in the center of each rectangle. Brush the edges of the fillo dough with egg wash, then fold the rectangle and press the edges to firmly seal the filling inside.
Place the spinach packages on the prepared baking sheets, and liberally brush the top of each with egg wash. Sprinkle sesame seeds and za'atar on top. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.
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