This Middle Eastern appetizer recipe is very easy to make. It is called an esfija and is a delicate and delicious treat. It is made with meat, mint and Greek yogurt or Kefir cheese.
If you want these to be authentic you can use ground lamb instead of beef. Once you brown the meat make sure to discard the rendered fat inside a colander inside a bowl. Don’t dump it into the sink drain.
You can make these with Greek yogurt or Kefir cheese. Just make sure that they are very moist. You do not want them to be dry. They will dry a little when they bake so be generous.
You can use store bought empanada dough or make your own. You can also make this with puff pastry dough if you like. My empanada dough is very easy to make and is very tasty so I highly recommend it.
Here is what you are going to need for these delicious esfijas:
Makes 30 to 34 esfijas
1 ½ pounds (750 grams) ground beef
1 medium white or brown onion – finely chopped
Salt & Pepper
A pinch of ground cumin
Up to a cup of Greek yogurt or Labne or Kefir cheese
1 cup of chopped mint leaves
Empanada Dough or Puff Pastry Dough
1 lightly beaten egg with a splash of cream or milk
Heat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 C).
Season the meat with salt and pepper. Heat a skillet with a little oil and brown the meat – stirring occasionally to get rid of any meat clusters. Drain the browned meat in a colander inside a bowl. Discard the drained fat in the garbage and not down your drain.
Add a little more oil to the skillet and add the onion. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes until the onion is softened and translucent. Return the beef to the skillet and mix well. Let the meat and onions cook for a few minutes. Work at medium heat.
Add the cumin and mix. Add ½ a cup of yogurt (or labne or Kefir) and mix it in. If the meat is too dry add more a ¼ cup at a time. It is very important that these be very moist. Mix it well and turn off the heat.
Prepare your dough by rolling it out and cutting it in circles. You can use a glass. Stretch it out to make it thinner and a little bigger. Place a teaspoon of filling in the middle. Grab one of the ends and press them together. Grab the other ends and press them together. Turn the pastry and press the middle edges leaving a little ‘window’ in the middle.
Brush the pastries with egg wash and bake for 20 to 25 minutes – until the bottoms start browning.
Serve with a little more Greek yogurt or Kefir cheese.
2 Esfijas – CALORIES 129.56; FAT 8.66 grs (sat 2.40; mono 3.67; poly 1.98); PROTEIN 4.91 grs ; FIBER 0.25 grs; CARBS 8.13 grs; CHOLESTEROL 14.23 mg; IRON 0.51 mg; SODIUM 112.77 mg; CALCIUM 18.81 mg