Swiss Chard and Tahini Beureks

One of my fondest food memories of my childhood (and there were many) was eating the little meat-filled pies my mother made every holiday or special occasion…and sometimes simply because I asked. Her pies were typical Moroccan. They were spicy and filled with meat and onions, and all wrapped in a crispy dough. I remember these pies were fried until crispy and golden. I simply couldn’t wait for the feast to begin as I always tried my best to sneak a few away from the platter.

Over the years, I adapted the recipe to fit in more with my vegan and healthier lifestyle. I replaced the meat filling with a delicious mixture of swiss chard greens, tahini and roasted walnuts – which all looks and tastes a bit meaty. I also stopped frying the pies and decided the oven works just as well as a frying pan. Finally, I coated the thin phyllo dough with olive oil instead of butter…and I have once again reached food nirvana.

I enjoy these little pies hot out of the oven or at room temperature. If storing at room temperature, just remember to keep the pies out of the refrigerator, and by all means, do not cover them because they will go all soggy.

Yield: makes about 24-36 pies.

  • phyllo dough – ca. 350 grams (see tips below)
  • 500 grams (one pound) swiss chard leaves and stems, shredded
  • sea salt to season
  • 2 medium-sized yellow onions, chopped fine
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 100 grams roasted walnuts (see tips below)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • juice of one lemon
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 150 grams (about 4 1/2 ounces) tahini
  • Place the chopped swiss chard leaves and stems in a large bowl. Coat with 1 tablespoon sea salt and leave for 30 minutes. Rinse well and drain on a towel.
  • Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the onions and a pinch of salt. Gently sweat the onions until softened.
  • While the onions cook, go ahead and place your roasted walnuts in a food processor and chop until very fine. The mixture should just start to form into a cake-like ball. Remove the walnuts and reserve.
  • Ok…your onions should be ready now, so go ahead and add the drained swiss chard to the onions along with a bit of olive oil and grated garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes to allow the swiss chard to soften and mix with the cooked onions.
  • Add the chopped walnuts and tomato paste. Mix well to combine and cook for 3 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and add the parsley, lemon juice and your cayenne pepper seasoning. Be sure to be cautious with the cayenne – I use about 1/8 of a teaspoon and that is enough to just tickle the throat. Place the pan back on the heat and cook over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes to evaporate some of the liquid.
  • Ok…remove the pan again from the heat and cool for 20 minutes before mixing in the tahini. Check the seasoning. If it all tastes a bit on the bitter side, then adjust by adding a bit more salt. If it is tasting a bit fatty and greasy, then add a bit more lemon juice. Cool completely before finishing the pies.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
  • Place a whole sheet of phyllo dough on a clean work surface. Apply enough oil to the dough to complete coat it. Add another sheet of dough on top of the oiled dough and lightly oil to coat the second sheet. Separate the dough into 5-6 long slices, then cut those slices in half horizontally to produce 10-12 strips.
  • Place about 1 tablespoon of filling along the bottom part of one of the strips. Fold over to create a small triangle, pressing the filling down a bit. Fold the dough again in the opposite direction to continue the triangle – like folding a flag. Continue this process along the entire strip. Place the finished pie on baking sheet lined with baking paper. Continue with the other strips.
  • When the tray is filled, place into the preheated oven and bake until golden – about 20-24 minutes. Cool slightly and enjoy hot, warm or cold.

Jack’s Fresh Tip

The pies can be made ahead of time and frozen before baking.  There is no need to defrost the unbaked frozen pies – just slip them into a preheated 180°C (350°F) oven and bake for about 24-26 minutes. They should be golden and crispy.

Phyllo dough is sometimes referred to as filo or by the Turkish name Yufka. I personally like the Greek version, which seems to be the most consistent in quality. Keep phyllo dough frozen for about 6 months. Be sure to defrost the dough in the refrigerator for 2 days. This will allow the dough to slowly thaw without creating ice crystals which will cause the thin dough to stick together.

Be sure to check our link on how to roast nuts for some advice and guidance.

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