Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mom's Spinach Pies ~ Fatayer Sabanegh

Fatayer Sabanegh….Spinach pies
Today I was in the kitchen making "Fatayer Sabanegh"….Spinach pies. As I've mentioned before, I am of Lebanese descent. Spinach pies are one of the recipes my grandmother passed down to her daughters. My mother was the best at making anything with yeast in it. As the holidays approach I become a little nostalgic, thinking of Christmases past. I have a blessed life, and certainly am not melancholy. Even so, my thoughts keep going to my mom, who passed away 2 1/2 years ago.  There are days I miss her terribly!  
Today is one of those days because; I was making her favorite recipe. My mom died at 89 years old. The last few years she struggled with dementia. She lived with me and it was a very hard time for both of us. She was an excellent baker. When she would make her spinach pies I would stand-by and watch, but never really helped. This was her thing! Yeast baking was her specialty. Even though I was quite proficient in the kitchen, I never attempted making my mom's spinach pies.  
That changed when she was 87, she could no longer remember many of her recipes. She would say to me, "I want to make spinach pies but, I get mixed up and can't remember anymore".  “ No worries mom", I would say, “We could do them together”! That's when I started baking Spinach pies with my mom.  I then gave her the written recipe (which she never needed before). The first time we did this, she followed the recipe, and my directions. Then we rolled the dough and filled it with the spinach mixture. The next time we planned on making them, she needed help making the dough. That’s when I really started to make her spinach pies. That time I made the dough with her direction.  Because of the time we spent together, yeast dough is now one of my specialties. I am forever grateful we had this time together, while she was still able to participate. And so glad she was able to pass on her knowledge of baking to me. All her little secrets that still help me to this day!

dough ingredients 
kneading till smooth
place in oiled bowl to rise
5 pkg. frozen spinach, squeezed dry
Add all ingredients then add oil and mix, let stand to meld flavors.
risen dough
add toasted pine nuts (or toasted chopped walnuts)
dough ready to be filled
Make triangular shape 
Ready for the oven
YUM!!  Enjoy!!

Fatayer Sabanegh

Pie Dough

8 cups of flour
1 pkg. yeast
1/2 cup olive oil
1 Tablespoon salt
about 3 cups lukewarm water
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon Mahleb (This is a mediterranean spice that can be purchased at Penzeys on-line. It is made from the cherry pit.)

Mix yeast in one cup of lukewarm water and add 1 teaspoon sugar. Let stand.
Mix all dry ingredients make well in center, add water and oil. Mix well.
Knead until you form a smooth dough. I usually add only 7 cups of flour at the
beginning and then add the rest as I am kneading the dough.  Put into an oiled
bowl, cover loosely and let rise in a warm place. After this has risen, punch
down and break off small pieces and make small balls and let rest. I usually
roll them with a rolling pin but you can flatten with your hand.

Spinach filling

5- 11 oz. pkg. frozen spinach (defrosted and squeezed dry)
2 onions (chopped fine)
Juice of 3 lemons
3/4 cup toasted pine nuts
Salt, pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup of olive oil

Mix all ingredients and let the flavors meld while you wait for the dough to rise.
Place spinach mixture on rolled dough and and close into triangular shape.
Brush oil onto baking sheet and arrange pies in rows. Bake at 350 degrees for
about 20 minutes, until bottoms are lightly browned. Then place under broiler
until pies are lightly browned. Serve hot or cold. Makes about 3 dozen


  1. What a beautiful story of you and your mom. Thank you for sharing it with us. Those pies look so wonderful! I would really like to make these - I have not had spinach combined with spices like allspice and cinnamon, so I am interested in tasting them.

  2. Elaine, Thanks so much for visiting my blog and the very nice comments. If you would like to make these, you could take a short cut and buy pizza dough and stuff with the filling. This dough is very much like pizza dough.
    A lot of Mediterranean food uses cinnamon and allspice in savory dishes. Let me know how you make out if you choose to make these.

  3. Kathy: May I make a comment on your blog? I read about your making of the spinach pies. This is aunt Louise. I loved your story and the sweet memories it stirred. You are so right, your mom was the BEST pie dough maker ever. She tried and tried to teach me. Her touch could not transfer to her kid sister, though (my greatest pie crust is made by Pillsbury). But YOU have the touch. You are carrying on the tradition & skill - and not only in dough making. Imee would be proud. Keep it up.

  4. I have had many tries on my own before I finally made some spinach pies, fatayers, I was satisfied with! Truly a labor of love and a tradition, I hope to pass it on to my daughter when she decides she wants to, instead of relying on me! Yours look lovely!

  5. I remember your Mom's and yours look every bit as good and I'm sure that they taste great too! She was an extraordinary woman you know. The most selfless person I ever met. xoxoxo