After reading through the little booklet on Greek Pies published by the Greek department in charge of Intangible Cultural Heritage, I was intrigued by this Lenten pita – a sweet greens pie. At first, the filling seemed to be in the same category as the sweet French tart made with Swiss chard and raisins (Tourte de blettes). Only these pita, shaped as individual little bites, turned out not to be a dessert, but a slighly spiced, slightly sweet treat that could be classed as a slightly different sort of greens pie.
Bubaria – or Boumparia, μπουμπάρια – comes from the Greek region around Megara, Western Attica in Central Greece. According to the Pie booklet, The name bubaria, refers to the roll shape with pinched ends, like wrapped sugar candies. Perhaps this might be why I originally assumed they were more like the dessert tourte de blettes.
However, I think it is more likely that these are a variation (though perhaps not etymologically) on boureki (Turkish börek), the rolled phyllo pies that look like little cigars. What makes them unique is the filling.
Like many of the recipes in the Pita booklet, the one for bubaria does not give quantities for many of the ingredients. They follow the age-old practice of cooking “by eye”. So, a bit of judgement and experimentation was called for. I’ve adapted the filling to my taste (not too sweet) and added pine nuts for texture. I suggest you do the same and play around with the amount of sugar and spice to suit your own tastes.
Makes about 20
- Homemade Phyllo
- 500g spinach
- 1 spring onion
- 1 small bunch of dill – about 2 Tablespoons finely chopped
- 2 Tablespoons (or more) olive oil
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Pepper to taste
- 1 to 2 teaspoons sugar (just enough to bring out the flavour of the spices)
- 50g raisins (about 1/3 cup)
- 45g pinenuts (about 1/3 cup)
- More olive oil for frying
Make the filling by heating (on medium-low) the 2 Tablespoons of oil in a large pan. Sauté the finely chopped spring onion. Clean, dry and chop the spinach. Put handfulls of the spinach in the pan, adding more as it wilts. Add the finely chopped dill, sugar, spices, raisins and nuts. Stir until the liquid that forms evaporates. Cool in a colander over a bowl while you make your phyllo. You do not want a wet mixture – the raisins will absorb some of the moisture and the rest will drain in the colander.
Roll out your phyllo dough until it is as thin as possible. Cut into short rectangles (approximately 8.5 by 9.5cm). Take a small amount of drained filling and place it about 1cm in from one long end with a margin of about 3/4cm on either side. Brush the margin all the way along and the final end. Fold the margins over and roll. You do not want to have too many layers of phyllo. Set them on a clean tea towel while you make the rest.
In a frying pan put in enough olive oil to cover half the boureki when placed in the pan. Heat on medium heat. When it hot, then fry the boureki, sealed side down. When golden on one side, turn it. When both sides are golden brown, remove with slotted spoon and let drain on kitchen paper.
Bubaria can be eaten as a slightly sweet snack (better for you than those candies), for lunch with a salad or in a slightly smaller shape as an unusual addition to the meze platter.