Spicy Lebanese-Style Whole Wheat Spinach and Toasted Walnut Pies (Yum!)

This is a variation on the classic Middle Eastern fatayer (savory pie). These are slightly different in a few ways. One is that rather than using white refined flour for the dough I used 100% whole wheat (delicious). I also used an egg wash on the dough and added sesame seeds. And in the filling I added a bit of crushed hot pepper to give it a slight spiciness. I also made them small(ish) appetizer size, but if you'd like they are equally good when made much larger. These are delicious on their own or with a dip (yogurt-garlic dip is great). Eat them hot straight from the oven, at room temperature, or even chilled; they are healthy and delicious either way. But one thing is for sure...you won't be able to eat just one

Spicy Lebanese-Style Whole Wheat Spinach and Toasted Walnut Pies

Makes about 2 dozen small pies

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon crushed hot pepper
1 tablespoon seven spice blend
8 cups firmly packed spinach, washed and stems removed (about 1 ½ lbs.)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup lemon juice
¾ cup toasted walnuts, chopped
2 large eggs, mixed with a couple tablespoons water
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
½ recipe whole wheat dough (see recipe below)

Preheat and oven to 400F. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add the onion and garlic. Cook the onions and garlic for a few minutes while stirring, or until they just begin to brown. Add the hot pepper and seven-spices and cook for another minute. Stir in a portion of the spinach and—using tongs—turn it in the oil and spices. As the spinach wilts add more spinach to the pan, in batches, stirring to coat it, until all of the spinach is in the pan. Stir in the salt and lemon, remove the pan from the heat, and add the walnuts. Transfer the spinach to a bowl or large plate and refrigerate until cool. Roll the dough out until very thin and—using a 4” cutter—cut 24 circles of dough (reserve or freeze the remaining dough for future use). Squeeze any excess moisture from the spinach mixture, and divide it in small clumps amongst the 24 dough circles. Brush the edges of the circle with a small amount of the egg, and lifting the edges of the dough, form each circle into a triangle, pinching the edges together. Brush each pie with the egg mixture, and sprinkle them with sesame seeds. Transfer the pies to one or two baking sheets that have been lined with parchment paper and bake them for about 15 minutes, or until golden.

100% Whole Wheat Bread
Makes 2 loaves
6 cups whole wheat flour, divided
2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
3 cups water, divided
4 teaspoons instant yeast, divided
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup honey

Separate the ingredients in two bowls using this ratio: In one bowl combine 4 cups of flour, the vital wheat gluten, and 2 cups of water. Stir it just until combined; cover with plastic wrap and set aside. In a second bowl, combine the remaining 2 cups flour and 1 cup water and 2 teaspoons of yeast. Stir it just until combined; cover with plastic wrap and set aside. Allow the bowls to rest for at least an hour. After the ingredients have rested and have begun to ferment, combine the contents of both bowls to an upright mixer that is fitted with a dough hook. Also add the remaining ingredients: the salt, olive oil, honey, and remaining two teaspoons yeast. Knead the dough on medium speed for about 8 minutes, then cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for one hour. Transfer the dough to a work surface, cut it into two pieces, gently shape it into loaves, and place them either on a baking sheet or in loaf pans. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 45 minutes. Preheat an oven to 425F/218C. If making free-form loaves, slash them with a razor just before they go into the oven. Bake the bread for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on. As the bread bakes roate the loaves in the oven once or twice to ensure even baking. Remove the bread from their pans and allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing.