New Middle Eastern Food
Mark Roper

Here, the classic Middle Eastern combination of spinach (you could also use silverbeet) and cheese is lifted with a dash of pomegranate essence. Hazelnuts give crunch, although traditionalists would probably use pine nuts. Serve sambusek as a snack, as party nibbles or as a mezze dish. Sambusek are also good as a starter drizzled with a tangy parsnip skordalia or the Chopped egg, coriander and lemon dressing.



Quantity Ingredient
200g self-raising flour
30g butter, chilled
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch sugar
50-100ml warm water


Quantity Ingredient
30ml olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed with 1/4 teaspoon salt
2 bunches spinach, stems removed, leaves picked and washed twice
100g toasted hazelnuts, skins rubbed away
50g feta cheese
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 lemon, juiced and finely chopped zest
1 tablespoon hazelnut oil
1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses
1 egg, mixed with 1 teaspoon water


  1. To make the pastry, whiz the flour, chilled butter, salt and sugar in a food processor until the mixture is the consistency of fine breadcrumbs. Gradually add enough lukewarm water for the mixture to just come together in a dough. Allow to rest for half an hour before using.
  2. To make the filling, heat the oil in a pan and sauté the shallots and garlic for 3–4 minutes until they have softened. Throw in the spinach leaves, turning them as they wilt down. When all the spinach has collapsed and softened, tip it into a colander and press out the moisture well.
  3. Lightly crush the hazelnuts in a mortar and pestle. Put the spinach into a mixing bowl and add the hazelnuts, feta, allspice, lemon juice and zest, hazelnut oil and pomegranate molasses and mix together thoroughly.
  4. Preheat the oven to 200°C. To make the sambusek, use an oiled rolling pin (or glass bottle) to roll out the pastry on a floured surface to about 3 mm thick. Cut out pastry circles using an 8 cm pastry cutter and brush half with the egg wash. Place a tablespoon of the mixture into the centre of the circle. Fold the pastry over to make a half-moon shape and pinch or crimp the edges to seal. Brush with more egg wash and place the pastries on a non-stick baking tray. Bake on the middle shelf for 10 minutes or until golden brown.
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