April 03, 2009

Turkish Pan Borek w/ Nettle & Feta : Phyllo Pastry That Won't Bite You Back!

... Nettles? Used as filling to phyllo pastry?

Nettles! This is a plant that's been used as herbal medicine for centuries and even to this day that continues in rural areas of my country. How about the culinary use of it? I did a quick search for it, by that I mean that I went to websites that has my props - like one of them being TasteSpotting.com ! Using the search option, I just wanted to find out how many kinds of nettle featuring food I could find. Some examples are:

- Nettle soup (popular)
- Nettle tea (hmm it's described as tonic. oh, nettles have an effect to draw excess fluid from body. one fact!)
- Nettle pesto (not sure! basil seems to have won my heart.)
- Nettle ravioli & pasta (i'll try both! - but i want yogurt. sorry nettles for i'm treating you as a substitute to spinach here)
- Nettle risotto (if i'm ever out of options what to cook. - err. see i'm positive.)
- Nettle fritters (mm sorry.)

By the way the best Google search could come up with was nettle soup, so. Moving on.

...Turkish Pan Borek w/ Nettle & Feta?

First of all; Turkish people adore borek ("börek" in fact - could be pronounced as boh-rek roughly.) . Borek; being the phyllo pastry - fillings of it vary from cheese, vegetables, meat... It's a very versatile food for us. We might have it for breakfast, as a companion to Turkish tea. Or simply anytime of day. For example now, the hungry Turk typing these lines on a sleepless 4:37 am in the morning - could happily have some. Have my mom make it, though. Please?

Börek - as we Turkish people call it - has been one of the favorite "comfort foods" of my childhood. It'd make my day to wake up to its warm, invigorating smell coming fresh out of the oven. That feeling it would give... It's important for me as a symbol of feeling happy - more than it's taste. I should be fair though, it tastes just as great.

Back to today's focus.

Turkish Pan Borek w/ Nettle & Feta Preparation:

  1. Nettles, washed. Some olive oil. Non-sticky pan :Nettles as the main ingredient, are not stingy anymore after being stir fried till the leaves don't fight back the utensil, meaning they are softened from heat of the non-sticky pan.
  2. Nettles ready to use, feta cheese, grounded black pepper : Preparing a mix of nettles & feta cheese - avoid extra salt depending on cheese type. Feta to me is naturally a little salty, so.
  3. Spreading the phyllo layers: Phyllo - 4 or 5 layers feed three. Almost.
  4. Keep olive oil (about a tablespoonful of), some milk (i'm not strict with measurements... really. milk here is just being used to keep the phyllo moist inside while it'll be crispy outside. so milk is just a side ingredient being the peacemaker in between phyllo and pan! use accordingly.)
That was the hard part.

Next step is, to spread one layer of phyllo dough on a flat surface - and sprinkle? some nettle & feta mix on it, making sure it's in even amount in middle. Holding the phyllo from the ends and making them meet in the center, covering the filling. So now there should be almost a rectangular shape with ends tucked in; till it took a rectangular-ish shape. Almost a tutorial I tried to make with a simple doodle:

This folding type is for the inner layer. On a non-sticky pan with help of some butter or oil of choice, first layer gets made until crispy on outside. Then this layer gets placed in second layer phyllo waiting on the side. More filling on top, and then ends tucked in again. Each time, phyllo layers tucked in each other with more filling on top. Cooked until crispy, then onto the next layer of uncooked phyllo and again the same step. More layers could be added. Following this, the pastry is ready!

Credit: I had this pastry at my sister's place, made by sister's boyfriend.

Taste: It was moist inside and crispy outside. Nettle & feta went well together, but spinach is easily a substitute to nettle if necessary. Sister contributed with a delicious salad of mostly greens - she's the master salad maker.

Thank you for reading.



That's sister and me... just caught in action.

Okay, I had fast food. I didn't like it. My tummy did.



  1. I would try that, even though I hate nettles for stinging me several times during my childhood. -_-
    I love phyllo anyway!

  2. Luckily they won't sting after cooked :0

  3. Never had nettle...sounds so interesting. We can totally do borek! Anything with crispy pastry, veggies and cheese is for us.

  4. I cooked with nettles recently and they were delicious - like spinach only stronger. I couldn't get used to having to wear gloves so I wouldn't touch the nettles until they were cooked, but it was so tasty. I bet this is delicious!

  5. @The Duo Dishes: Dear C & A, you should give nettle a chance! I approached it unsure, and ended up loving the taste. Hey... maybe it's the crispy pastry that did it!

    @oysterculture: Dear LouAnn, I thought nettle tasted less strong than spinach! - it made me curious if the taste varied due to type or the way we cooked. Oh, I definitely agree with the taste part ;) By the way I wanted to comment on your comprehensive post on citrus and overall liking on your website.. but I was required being a Wordpress member. Is there no other way?

  6. This sounds good! I have been wanting to use nettles more often.

  7. Go for it. Nice to see you Kevin!


You could feedmeback! I still appreciate it even if it's too spicy. Spice is good.

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