Middle Easten family making fatayer

My husband broke ground on a pizza oven in late spring. And by breaking ground I mean literally digging up an 18-inch deep plot of land in heavy Virginia clay (R.I.P. shovel). There were gravel deliveries, a cement mixer - it was a lot. 

Now, you don't need a pizza oven to make the savory pies we made. But when it takes a pile of hardwood and a few hours to get your pizza oven hot enough, you don't make just one thing. The heat lasts for at least six hours, and we took full advantage. True to my winter weekend habits, my home was transformed into a food factory.

Nabil Barbari at the pizza oven

I come from a long line of Palestinians, steeped in the tradition of hospitality. We push food on everyone who comes through the door, but savory pies are for special occasions. They require a bit of prep, so why not make them en masse? Especially if you have space in the freezer!

Regarding the dough, sometimes it's thin and light, other times it's puffy. Whatever your preference, rest assured that you can use this dough for every iteration of pie you like, and you can use your home oven.

My family uses muscle memory and intuition to eye the measurements, and since our recipes have never been written down, I linked to recipes with great reviews. If you enjoy Middle Eastern food, you likely already have a favorite. 

 spinach fatayer

Spinach pies (fatayer) are known for their tart kick of lemon and sumac, and you can find a great recipe here.

sfeeha, palestinian meat pies

Meat pies (sfeeha) are hearty, and topped with buttery pine nuts. Though I prefer the meat to be mixed with tahina instead of yogurt, both versions are delicious. Here's the recipe.

Cheese pies (fatayer bi jibneh) are a savory treat, as pictured in the pizza oven photo above. You can find a recipe here.

zaater manaeesh palestinian food

Turns out a lot of my friends love the spice zaatar - something I thought was a Middle Eastern secret! The flavor really pops, and these zaatar manakeesh pies are simple to make. 

egg fateyer - palestinian food

Like so many do to gussy up ramen and grain bowls: put an egg on it! Fatayer bil bayd used the same dough as any recipe listed above. Simply pinch up some ridges, crack a few eggs, dust with salt and pepper, et voila! If you love a good yolk burst as I do, this is a great comfort food. 

These freeze wonderfully, and are a real crowd-pleaser. Enjoy!

March 07, 2021 by Fayeruz Regan

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