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Spinach and Feta Arayes

If you are lucky in life, you will find a dish that everyone in your family loves, and whenever you suggest making it, they will enthusiastically agree. This has become that recipe in my family.


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Asaf Doktor, chef and owner of Haachim, takes the Palestinian arayes, a grilled pita bread stuffed with chopped lamb, and reinvents it as vegetarian with spinach, onions, feta cheese and za’atar. If you want this as a main course, double or triple the recipe and don’t be alarmed about wasting anything; I discovered that popping them in the toaster is a great way to reheat them. Serve with yogurt sauce.

Serves 4

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 large red onions, halved and thinly sliced
3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
2 teaspoons za’atar or dried oregano
¾ pound baby spinach leaves
½ cup crumbled full-fat feta cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 pita breads
Additional olive oil
¼ cup whole milk yogurt

1) Heat the olive oil in large heavy skillet over high heat. Add the onions and cook until they start to brown, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and cook until onions soften, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 3 minutes. Stir in the fresh and dried oregano and za’atar and toss skillet several times. Add the spinach and sauté just until wilted, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper; do not oversalt, as feta is salty. Transfer the filling to a strainer in the sink and let stand for 1 hour.

2) Transfer the filling to a bowl. Add the feta and mix well. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

3) Cut each pita in half. Place an ample amount of the filling into each pita half. Lightly brush the outside of each pita with olive oil.

4) Heat a grill or panini press to medium or heat a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add pitas to grill, press, or skillet and cook on each side until crispy and brown, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Cut each arayes in half. Serve with yogurt.

Photograph and recipe from “Israel Eats” by Steven Rothfeld, reprinted by permission of Gibbs Smith.

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