Braided Savory Spinach, Feta, and Pine Nut Pastry

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This started out as a dessert post, but then I looked out the window, and it’s December in Minnesota.  My family needs something warming tonight, so I dropped the almond cream and raspberry idea (page 231 in the book), and jogged to the store for spinach and imported feta to go with the pine nuts I already had in the house.  Not only is this thing delicious, but I stashed gobs of spinach into it and it was super kid-friendly anyway. 

First, start preheating the oven to 350 degrees F for about a half-hour.  Saute a pound of fresh spinach in a tablespoon of olive oil, until it’s well-wilted and has given up a good amount of liquid, which you need to discard or the pastry will be soggy.  I peppered but didn’t salt the spinach, because my feta cheese is very salty–taste it first; if it’s bland go ahead and salt the spinach to taste.  Set aside the sauteed spinach while you prepare the dough.

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Roll out your favorite enriched dough from the book, like challah (page 180), or for a really decadent treat, the brioche (page 189)– the goal is 1/8 of an inch thick.  It took a little less than a pound to get a rectangle about 8 by 18 inches (a small grapefruit-sized piece of dough).   I bought some really nice imported feta and crumbled a little less than a half pound in a line down the center of the rectangle:

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Then, layer the drained spinach over that:

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Now sprinkle a generous handful of pine nuts as the last layer before you start the braid (you won’t actually have to braid…):

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Using a pizza wheel, make 1/2-inch wide strips down each side. 

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Now, fold the strips, one side after the other over the filling, creating the illusion of a real braid:

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I’m not quite as artful about this as Zoe is, I’ll admit.  But it basically got the job done and through the magic of gauzy photography, who’s going to be able to tell?  Allow the braid to rest for 40 minutes at room temperature.  Egg wash and black sesame seeds completed the effect, which is something like a Turkish spinach pie  This goes into your pre-heated oven for 35 to 40 minutes and a complete meal is done.  If you can sell this filling, the kids won’t need any other vegetable tonight.

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70 thoughts on “Braided Savory Spinach, Feta, and Pine Nut Pastry

  1. Thanks Jeff. Did you reheat the left overs in the oven or the microwave? Would the oven, maybe 350 degrees until it is warm, make the crust too dark? We are only two, so I guess I would cut the recipe in half.

  2. I’m drooling at the thought of this! Must I use challah or brioche, or can I use the master recipe or the 100% whole wheat bread? Those are the only two I have going right now. I can tell I’m going to need more buckets! ;)

  3. Hi Kimberly,

    You can use any of the dough that you have on hand. It would be wonderful with either of the doughs that you mentioned!

    Thanks, Zoë

  4. Kia Ora (greetings from NZ) –
    My 5 year old son and I made this for dinner tonight with an herbed light wheat dough – delicious! He loved helping braid the dough. Thanks so much for putting these recipes on-line… I’m looking forward to your new book (and returning home to the states to my copy of your original book). Cheers! Linda

  5. Made this yesterday for a party. Very good. I did add garlic to the spinach. Wish I had tried this earlier. Thanks for all the great recipes.

  6. Made this, shaping like the fougasse, with the “master recipe” dough and it was a total hit. Loved it! Used my first harvest of spinach from my garden!

    • Hi Dani,

      Your loaf made with spinach from your garden sounds absolutely wonderful. I have garden envy now! I am another week from Harvesting anything!

      Enjoy, Zoë

  7. Hello Jeff and Zoe,
    I really love your book, have been making bread from ABin5min for almost a year now, and I am making 4 pounds of bread everyday, it is our main source of carb. My husband could not even function without your bread!! So THANK YOU!

    Anyway, my question is that why do you need to preheat the oven for 1/2 hour for this particular bread? It seems like Zoe’s strawberry danish didn’t need that much preheat time, and to me this is the savory version. Thanks in advance for your answer.

    • Rosalina: So glad to hear…

      In the second book, we switched to 30 minutes, bec a lot of people complained that the bottom crust wasn’t browning nicely. In some ovens, you do just fine at 20 min. See what you think, and do whichever works well for you. It’s kind of arbitrary on the website, which doesn’t get as carefully proofread as the books. Jeff

  8. Thank you for the explanation and quick response, Jeff. Does that mean you guys made the deadline for the third book?

    This web site is so great, I learned so much techniques from it. It makes the book so much more valuable than its face value.

    • Thanks Rosalina, that’s what we were hoping for, and we’re planning on continuing this for the 3rd bk. Pretty sure no one else is doing this.

      We’re in good shape, we’ve met all the interim deadlines for the pizza book…

  9. Does the Spinach Feta Bread in your 1st book need to be refrigerated after baking?
    Love your books, thank you so much for taking the time to help us make delicious breads!

    • Hi Kathy,

      If you are not going to eat it within a couple of days, then I would refrigerate or freeze the bread.

      Thanks! Zoë

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