Mondays in the place I live in are usually the best time to shop for fresh produce such as fruits and vegetables that come straight from the farmers’ garden as well as fish, yogurts, cheese of every variety and everything else that’s not just food. This happens every week in our mahalle where an outdoor street market is often held on this particular day which we traditionally call açık pazar or open market. Almost every mahalle in Istanbul has it, though as I've said earlier the open markets in every town or city are scheduled differently at a particular day every week.
So yesterday, my son and I went to the nearby pazar or open market (though it was quite rainy) and there I found a large variety of fresh vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, eggplants, etc. One that caught my eye were these long cylinder of bundled green leaf sheaths called pırasa in Turkish, also known as leeks. These onion-like green vegetables were sold at a very low price – same as those of the broccoli and cauliflower. Perhaps its because they’re usually grown in abundance in winter so the farmers have a huge supply of it. Since I have never ever tried to cook this vegetable before (though I have already planned to really try using it for a soupy dish but just couldn’t find time), so at that moment I was determined to take a few bundles of these leafy greens home. I got about 2 kilograms of fresh leeks, a few kilograms of potatoes and carrots (to go with them, I thought), and some fresh fruits on our way home. Soon as we got right back to the kitchen, I couldn’t wait for another moment to start cooking!
Though there are several ways to cook leeks the Turkish way, I decided however that I should try using it as a filling for börek this time since I have a pack of yufka (Turkish phyllo dough) in the fridge that I wasn’t able to use earlier. Actually, I was supposed to use them in making peynirli börek (cheese-filled puff pastry) before going to the market and leave them to bake for just a few minutes in the oven while we're out. Well, I've just thought that maybe - by the time we’ll come home we'll be hungry (just maybe), then we’ll have something deliciously warm to fill our tummy along with a cup of hot Turkish tea. Sadly, I couldn’t prepare it earlier so I thought that it might be a good idea to still use the phyllo dough - but with another filling.
So here’s how I use those bundle of green leaf sheaths to make a deliciously hot pırasalı börek. In this recipe though, I only used about half a kilo of fresh leeks since I also added potatoes and carrots (for flavor and color) so I thought the mixture would be enough to fill a round tray of yufka. Please check out my recipe below if you want to try making them at home, too.
|Sautee garlic and leeks in olive oil.|
- 1/2 kilogram fresh leeks
- 1 large carrot, peeled and grated
- 1 medium sized potato, peeled and grated
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon pul biber
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ½ cup milk
- ½ cup plain yogurt
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 5-6 sheets yufka (Turkish phyllo dough)
To prepare the filling...
- Wash the fresh leeks thoroughly and remove a few of its outer layers and tough green leaves.
- Cut the leeks in half (lengthwise) and slice in ¾ " thick.
- In a large heavy skillet, heat the olive oil over moderate heat.
- Stir in garlic, followed by the leeks and sautee for about 5 minutes.
- Add the grated carrots and potatoes.
- Season with salt, pul biber and black pepper.
- Stir occasionally over moderate heat for about 10 minutes or until the vegetables have softened.
- Transfer the cooked vegetables to a bowl and set aside.
To prepare the phyllo dough...
- In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs thoroughly.
- Add in the milk, yogurt, oil and continue whisking until all the ingredients are thouroughly mixed.
- Meanwhile, lightly oil the baking pan or baking dish for use in this pastry (for this I use a round baking pan). Lay a single sheet of yufka or phyllo dough on the pan and spoon in the egg mixture (I use a silicon brush to spread the egg mixture thoroughly on the phyllo dough). Repeat this process until you have stacked 3 sheets of yufka or phyllo dough on the pan.
- Transfer the cooked vegetable mixture on top of the 3rd sheet of phyllo dough and spread it evenly.
- Again, repeat the layering (and brushing egg mixture on the sheets) until all the phyllo dough have been stacked in the baking dish. Then brush the remaining egg mixture thoroughly on top of the last phyllo dough.
- Preheat the oven to 175 C / 350 F and bake for about 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
- After baking, let the borek to rest for about 15 minutes before cutting into squares or rectangular shapes.