I married into a family with Lebanese roots, which, is quite a wonderful thing. I had never really tried Middle Eastern cuisine before I got married (other than store bought hummus) so I was definitely in for a treat to be introduced to a whole new spectrum of wonderful foods. Fast-forward several years and now my husband and I are both Primal eaters. This means we’ve had to leave behind some of the Middle Eastern dishes we used to love to prepare and enjoy. One dish we used to make very often was Spinach Pies. In essence, a Spinach Pie is a small homemade pita pocket filled with chopped spinach, parsley, mint and other goodness. We like to dip them in homemade hummus, baba ghanuj, and toum (an out-of-this world Lebanese garlic dip). Longing for such yumminess, I decided it was time to come up with a Paleo-ified version of this loved recipe. Although these little pies are not an exact replica to the original, they sure are good in their own right!
This recipe contains za’atar spice blend. It is optional (my husband says it is NOT optional) but it adds a lot to the recipe. You can find it at Middle Eastern grocery stores, often in the bulk section, and on amazon. My favorite is this one but this one is good as well.
Makes 12 pies
For the spinach filling:
- ½ pound spinach, roughly chopped
- ½ medium onion, roughly chopped
- ½ bunch parsley, roughly chopped
- ½ bunch mint, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Juice of ½ lemon
- ¼ cup walnuts, chopped
- 1 tablespoon za’atar spice blend (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Ingredients for the crust:
- 1 ¼ cup almond meal
- 1/4 cup tapioca flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 eggs, divided, room temperature
- ¼ cup water
- 1 packet yeast (optional)
- 1 teaspoon honey, slightly warmed
- Za’atar spice blend (optional but highly recommended)
- Make the spinach filling by combining spinach, onion, parsley and mint in a food processor. Chop until medium-fine consistency.
- In a medium bowl, combine spinach mixture with olive oil, lemon juice, walnuts, za’atar, and salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Can be made a day in advance.
- Preheat oven to 320ºF.
- Grease the bottom and sides of a 12-muffin pan, or, preferably use silicon muffin cups. Set aside.
- Place water in a small bowl and sprinkle yeast over the top. Set aside.
- Place almond meal, tapioca flour, and salt in a food processor and briefly pulse until consistent.
- Add the olive oil, egg yolks and water/yeast mixture and process just until the mixture is smooth. Add honey and blend.
- In another bowl, beat the egg whites until firm but still wet.
- Fold about 1/3 of the egg white mixture into the almond mixture to lighten it somewhat (it will still have a paste consistency).
- Now, fold the remainder of the egg whites and almond mixture into one another. Be careful to not over mix the batter!
- Spoon about 1 heaping tablespoon of batter into the bottom of each of the muffin cups.
- Spoon about 2-3 tablespoons of spinach mixture over the top of the layer of batter in each cup. (If you have a bit extra spinach mixture left, consider it to be a tip for the chef for a tasty mid-afternoon snack.)
- Top the spinach with another 1-2 tablespoons of batter.
- Sprinkle za’atar over the top of each muffin for garnish.
- Bake for 17 – 20 minutes, or until set and lightly browned.
- Cool on rack.