A few months ago, we attended an ‘Arabic Pies’ cooking class hosted by the local Center for Arabic Culture. Such fun, and what a throwback to living in Jordan! Today, I’m presenting variations on two of what we made there.
- Za’atar. As I’ve stated before, it’s pretty freaking fantastic. Granted, I may have slightly skewed standards. But you can put it on anything. Seriously, anything. But especially bread.
- Cheese. I didn’t feel like making a trip to the Armenian grocery store in the rain, so I used Queso Fresco. Previously, I’ve also tried a mix of goat and cheddar. Traditional, no but delicious yes ?!
These flatbread are super easy. And, unlike pita and naan, you can bake the whole batch at once – a huge win, especially when cooking for a crowd. I also view them as a great entree to Middle Eastern flavors because, who doesn’t like savory pies? Or cheese? (Sorry, lacto-intolerant folks. But hey, that means all the za’atar ones are for you!)
Obviously, we all know za’atar is my favorite thing. Cheese is also pretty high up there and pretty much the reason I could never go vegan, even for just a week. Coming from a dairy farming family might also have something to do with it – wouldn’t want to get disowned or anything.
You can make these many ways. One of my favorites combines ground meat and pomegranate molasses. Once I find pomegranate molasses in stores, expect to see those posted here STAT. Muhammara is also a popular choice, which Randall personally loves. My friend Becky featured an authentic recipe on her blog Taking Refuge, that we’ve been wanting to try.
All in all, best meal ever. Get IT.
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp active dry yeast
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tsp salt, divided
- ¼ cup + 2 tbs olive oil, divided
- ¼ cup yogurt
- 9 oz Queso Fresco
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- ¼ cup za'atar spice mix
- Combine warm water (about 110 degrees Fahrenheit) with sugar and yeast. Stir briefly to combine and set aside ~10 minutes. After this time, your yeast should be bubbly/foamy and reactive. If not, start over as your water may have been too hot and killed the yeast OR your yeast is old and dead.
- In the meantime, add flour, 2 tsp salt, 2 tbs of olive oil, and yogurt in a large bowl. Stir to combine.
- Once yeast is reactive, add to bowl. Mix all ingredients together to form a dough. It will be slightly sticky. Knead on a lightly floured countertop for about 5 minutes, or until the dough comes together into a smooth ball.
- Return dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a clean cloth. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Just before the dough has finished rising, you'll want to make your toppings. In a small bowl, mix together ¼ cup olive oil and ¼ cup za'atar. Depending on how many you designate as za'atar vs. cheese, you may need to mix up more, but this is a good starting place. In another small bowl, crumble the queso fresco and mix in both eggs. Season with garlic powder, 1 tsp salt, and pepper. Set both fillings aside until ready to use.
- Once the dough has doubled in size, gently punch it down and split into 12-15 even pieces. (FYI, mine pictured here were on the larger side.) Since we're making two different types of hand pies, the shaping is flexible. Generally, for the cheese 'boats' you'll want to roll out longer, narrower discs, whereas your za'atar ones can be any shape/size - great for those pesky pieces of dough that just won't do what you want them to do!
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit while you're shaping your hand pies.
- For the cheese ones: Roll out your dough to be thin and narrow. Scoop about 2 tbs of filling into the center of each and spread evenly across the dough, leaving ½" border. To create the boat shape, bring the two longer side together until touching. Then, pinch each end to seal in the boat.
- For the za'atar ones: Roll out your dough to your referred shape - I generally make these a bit rounder, but as we're not stuffing, you can choose whatever you like best. Spread the za'atar/olive oil mixture in a thick layer, leaving ½" inch border.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Enjoy!