Lebanese cheese fatayers are savory pastries found throughout the Middle East. Fatayers can also be filled with meat (lamb fatayer is traditional.) Fatayers are found throughout the Arab world in pastry shops and market stalls. They can be triangular in shape or cigar-shaped (like the recipe below.) Lebanese cheese fatayers are similar to the Turkish pogacas or the Latin American empanada, or the Eastern European Burek (more on that later.) Living in the northern U.S. I have found fatayer at the West Side market in Cleveland, OH. This place is a must for lovers of ethnic food like my husband and I.
You can find a multitude of ethnic vendors selling delicious breads, pastries, meats and other delicious items. The first time I tried cheese fatayer was in my home, about 3 years ago. They were made by Teslime (she went by Tess), a Turkish visiting professor at the University where I work. I was hosting an international dinner party at my house and fatayer was Tess’s contribution, She told me right of the bat that she was using store bought pizza dough because “it does the job and cuts down on the time.” My kind of girl!!! For the purpose of this recipe I used feta cheese since the cheeses traditionally used are difficult to find in my area.
I was talking to a Middle Eastern friend and he said it was okay to use feta. I have tried to recreate Tess’ recipe from memory. I think it is a close approximation. Perhaps some day I will be brave enough to make the dough myself. In the meantime, enjoy this delicious recipe!
Here are some tips on this recipe that I find help. If you like spinach instead of shopped parsley you can certainly chop off some fresh baby spinach as a substitute. If you don’t finish all of the fatayer you can store them in the refrigerator for a couple days and reheat in the oven or microwave. I prefer the oven for a nice crispy texture. I would not freeze them as it would ruin the consistency of the cheese filling.
If you like the exotic flavors of Middle Eastern food I want to share with you some of my favorites you can bookmark for later or pin them on Pinterest.
Middle Eastern lentil soup is a simple soup that has lots of rich flavors and is so easy to make.
Zatar or za’atar is a spice blend you can easily make at home for dipping oils, sprinkle on hummus or toasted pita bread.
Lamb stew infused with rose water, dried apricots, cherries and almonds has a really nice combination of sweet and savory flavors in a rich broth.
A salad to try would be a traditional Middle Eastern style tabouleh or tabbouleh that consists of lots of parsley along with bulgur wheat, mint, tomato and onions. You will love the bright flavors in this dish!
Your meal Middle Eastern dinner would not be complete without a dessert of these pistachio rose water shortbread cookies. These are so easy to make and have such a nice floral note.
Lebanese Cheese Fatayer Recipe
Lebanese cheese fatayers are savory pastries found throughout the Middle East. Fatayers can also be filled with meat (lamb is traditional.) Fatayers are found throughout the Arab world in pastry shops and market stalls. They can be triangular in shape or cigar-shaped (like the recipe below.) Lebanese cheese fatayers are similar to the Turkish pogacas or the Latin American empanada, or the Eastern European Burek.
- Defrost the pizza dough.
- Preheat your oven to 375'F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a bowl combine the feta, yogurt, mozzarella, parsley and nutmeg. Crush with a spoon to break down the chunks of feta. You almost want the mixture to look like a very thick lumpy paste.
- On a floured surface knead the dough until it is elastic. Roll into a log and cut into ten pieces. Roll each ball and set aside covered.
- Roll out each ball into an oval shape and place about 2 tablespoons of filling down the center of the dough.
- Fold over the top left of the dough over the filling and press down. Fold over the opposite side over the folded sided and pinch. Repeat the process at the bottom of the pastry. Brush with egg wash and place on parchment paper on cookie sheet. Sprinkle with nigella seeds. Repeat process until all fatayers have been made.
- Bake at 350'F for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.