Turkish Borek, Albanian Byrek, Armenian Byorek, Assyrian Burek, Bulgarian Byorek, Israeli Bourekas, Italian Burriche, Bosnian Burek, Tunisian Brik ….and there are more…..
I find it fascinating following food through cultures and time, and discovering how it has evolved and regionalised on its travels. In fact, on the travels of the human race: as people take their native cuisine into new cultures, and there it is changed and adapted, using different local produce and flavourings.
All of these different kinds of Burek form a family of filled and baked pastries, often using a flaky pastry known as phyllo. Some fillings are savoury and some are sweet.
And then I found The Cretan Boureki. It’s different from the rest in that it rarely has pastry. (sometimes it’s topped with a layer of flaky pastry).
It has three main ingredients: Potatoes, Courgettes and a local Cretan ricotta-like cream cheese called Mizithra.
To veganise this simple and effective dish, I made a quick almond and cashew Ricotta, flavoured with white miso and a dash of lemon juice.
The real revelation of this dish for me, is the inclusion of mint.
It really is amazing. I don’t use mint much in savoury dishes, but this dish has taught me what a lovely herb it can be, used in the right place.
I found various recipes for Boureki, and most of them have a scary amount of oil in them, so I have reduced the oil a little, although I’ve not completely departed from the traditional way.
The Mediterranean diet seems to have health giving qualities, and their abundant use of olive oil only enhances that, as far as I can tell.
Come early summer, when the courgette plants on my allotment will be going completely crazy, I will be returning to this recipe …again….and again… 🙂
Soak 150gms. Blanched Almonds and 50gms. Cashews in water for 2-4 hours.
Rinse nuts and then blend with scant juice 1/2 lemon, 1 tsp. white rice miso, a pinch of salt and just enough water to make the blender work.
Blend to a fairly smooth paste ( but not creamy smooth).
- approx. 600gms. courgette
- approx. 700gms. potatoes
- approx. 200gms. tomatoes
- 3-4 tsps. good quality dried mint – or even a little more
- a handful of fresh basil
- olive oil
- 1-2 tsps. salt
- 1-2 tsps. ground black pepper
- Wash and slice potatoes no more than 3 ml. thick. Preferably 2 ml. (It’s optional to peel the potatoes – I didn’t as they were organic)
- I used a mandolin…
- Wash and slice the courgettes very thin – no more than 3 ml. thick. Preferably 2 ml.
- Finely chop fresh basil.
- Pre-heat oven : Gas Mk. 4 / 180C
- In a wide oven dish, (approx: 32cm. x 25cm.) – liberally-oiled with olive oil:
- Take 1/3 of the sliced potatoes, and spread evenly out across base of dish.
- Drizzle lightly and evenly with olive oil.
- Sprinkle very lightly and evenly with salt, dried mint and a scattering of fresh, chopped basil.
- Then layer 1/3 of the courgettes evenly over potatoes.
- Scatter with mint, chopped fresh basil and ground pepper.
- Then add a second layer of potatoes.
- Drizzle lightly with oil and sprinkle lightly with salt, mint and basil.
- Then add a second layer of courgette, mint, basil and pepper.
- Then add the almond ricotta, spooning it over the courgettes.
- Then add a final layer of potatoes.
- Press gently down on the potato layer to firm the bake, and spread the almond ricotta.
- Drizzle with oil, and scatter a little salt, mint and basil.
- Then add a final layer of courgette, mint, basil and ground pepper.
- Slice tomatoes thinly and top Boureki with sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle a little salt.
- Cover tightly with silver foil.
- Place in pre-heated oven for 45. mins.
- Remove silver foil and cook for a further 45 mins. or so, until potatoes are soft and tender.
Remove from oven and leave to stand for 5 mins. before serving.
This allows the juices to be reabsorbed.
Serve with a salad: olives, tomato, cucumber, cos…..etc. and a balsamic dressing.
The Future is Vegan