I have a bit of a thing for puff pastry, and I think it all started, years ago, with bourekas.
When I was a child, we used to have our family holiday in Israel each summer. As well as the famous street food of falafel and humous, I used to love getting bourekas. There was a chain of boureka shops called Sami Bourekas, now sadly defunct, which sold perfect puffy mouthfuls of flaky pastry, filled with soft mashed potato, salty melted cheese, or – if you were feeling particularly adventurous – spinach or mushrooms. As I recall the shops were takeaway only, and your boureka would be presented in a white paper bag that would quickly become greasy from the hot puff pastry treat inside. Ahh, happy days.
Then, when I was about 18 or 19, and in Israel for my gap year, I went on a date with the cousin of a friend. He took me to Jaffa, to the Abulafia bakery, which is an Arab bakery that has been in business there since 1879. Oh boy! The pastry! Again, in a paper bag, eaten in the street, but a wildy different experience to Sami’s mass produced fast-food-chain bourekas. This one was cheesy, salty and savoury, crisp and golden and covered in sesame seeds. I certainly remember more about that little pastry than I do about the guy who took me to eat it…
These days, bourekas are readily available – in bakeries, cafes, markets, even the corner shop. You can buy raw, frozen bourekas to bake at home. No need to ever be far away from a warm, slightly greasy, puff pastry mouthful of loveliness.
Well, except that we live in Cambridge, not in Israel. No boureka shops here, as far as I’m aware. Hey ho. Time to make our own 🙂
To be honest, no Israeli would recognise what I’ve made here as a boureka. No Israeli would DREAM of putting these vegetables into a boureka. But I think there are enough similarities for me to get away with it. For instance, the onions are soft and savoury, the cheese is mild and slightly salty, and the filling is mostly green, just like in a spinach boureka. Sort of.
OK, fine. Call it a pastry puff then. It’ll always be a boureka to me.
I opened 250g pea pods to obtain 120g fresh peas. 275g of broad bean pods provided 65g of broad beans. I used cheshire cheese, which tasted lovely, but you can use any cheese you like. Makes 4.
- 1 medium onion
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Small head of broccoli (approx 200-250g)
- 65g shelled broad beans
- 120g fresh garden peas
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 75g grated cheese
- 320g pack ready-rolled puff pastry
- 1 egg, beaten
- Preheat the oven to 220C.
- Peel and finely dice the onion. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over a medium heat and cook the onion until starting to soften - about 2 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cut the broccoli into small florets and rinse well. Add to the pan with the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 3-4 minutes. Add the broad beans and continue to cook for a further 3-4 minutes. Finally, add the peas and garlic and stir well. Cook for 1-2 minutes and remove from the heat.
- Stir in the grated cheese and set aside.
- Unroll the puff pastry. Cut into four equally-sized rectangles.
- Place a quarter of the filling onto one half of one of the rectangles, leaving a small gap around the edge. Brush the edge with beaten egg, then fold over the other half of the rectangle and press the edges together. Use the tines of a fork to press around the edge and seal.
- Repeat with the remaining pastry and filling.
- Place the four pastry puffs onto a baking sheet and cut a small slit in the top of each one. Brush the tops with beaten egg, and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until risen and golden.
- Serve hot or warm.