Spinach and Feta Lahmacun

Spinach and Feta Lahmacun 

I don't know if its okay to call this a lahmacun as it has no meat. A lahmacun is a thin flat bread usually coated in a thin layer of minced lamb or beef seasoned with tamarind and tomato. Names and sizes vary but it is a common street food of the middle east. Lahmacun is the Turkish name but it is also known as Lahma bi Ajeen, which is what it is called in Claudia Rodins' 'The book of Jewish Food', from which the dough part of this recipe is taken. Lahma bi Ajeen means 'meat on dough' in Arabic so this should be called K'ss bi Ajeen - or Spinach on dough.

I have come to know lahmacun as a wonderful comfort food as my mother in law, Sylvia, makes the best I have ever eaten. They are generously doled out at her parties, when babies are born, when weddings are being prepared for or when somebody begs her to make them for long enough. It is a family tradition handed down by Sylvia's mother Mary, who was from Eygypt, whose food is legend. This is one vegetarian variant I have tried and I plan to try more. We eat them warm with a squeeze of lemon, smothered in hummus and sometimes with salad. I made some large ones but they are also really nice bite size. 

Serves 6-8 as a main
(recipe by Sarah Wasserman)
For the dough:
2 1/2 Tsp's (1 Packet) dried yeast 
1/2 Tsp sugar
250ml lukewarm water
500g Strong white bread flour
1 Tsp salt
4 tbsp sunflower oil

For the topping:
100g Pine nuts (toasted till golden brown in the oven. 10min at 160 ought to do it)
3 bunches (approx. 600g) of spinach (large leaf spinach with the stems on, just cut of the very base where the leaves join. Wash thoroughly.) 
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Large white onion (finely diced)
6 Cloves of garlic roughly chopped
200g Feta
5 Tbsp chopped dill
5 Tbsp chopped flat parsley
1 1/2 Tsp dried Red Pepper flakes (not to be confused with chili flakes. If you can only get chili flakes just add 1/2 tsp. )

To make the dough:
1) Mix the yeast, sugar and water in a large bowl and leave to activate for 10 minutes.
2) Add 3 tbsp of the oil and whisk it a little then start gradually adding the flour. Keep whisking until it becomes thick then add the rest in with your hands. 
3) Knead the dough till elastic and then coanreturn to the bowl with the rest of the oil to coat the dough so it doesn't stick. 
4) Cover with clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm place for 2 hours or till doubled in size. 

To make the filling:
1) In a large pan saute the onions in the olive oil on a low heat till the onion wbeging to caramelize. This will take at least 5 minutes. 
2) Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
3) Add the spinach and saute for a minute and then cover and steam till they wilt. 
4) Turn this mixture out into a colander and drain of the excess liquid. 

5) Put the spinach, onion, and garlic mixture onto a chopping board with the pine nuts and chop it all together quite roughly. 
6) In a bowl, combine with the crumbled feta, dill, parsley and chili flakes. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

To assemble:
1) Preheat your oven to 240c/475f. 
2) When the dough is ready, divide into 14 balls for large lahmacuns (20cm) or 18 for bite size (about 10cm). 
2) Roll these out very thin (5mm). As you roll them transfer onto lightly oiled baking trays. 
3) Spread the filling on quite thin so you can see the bread though it.
4) Bake for 10-15 minutes. 
5) Eat while still warm with hummus or spicy harissa or both and a squeeze of lemon.

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