Moroccan vegetable and cottage cheese (Jben) pasties
Vegetable and cheese pasties recipe is a nice way to start an Iftar during Ramadan or something to make for a picnic. For a lighter version, use warqa or a good phyllo dough to make them.
Preparing a Ramadan table can be a very demanding job, compute this for 30 days..Now this is not required by religion and food should not be wasted. But people tend to have some craving during the day and their wishes are granted over that Iftar table. Iftar itself is a bit like a Eid (feast) for fasting people every single day throughout the fasting month of Ramadan.
The larger the family, the more you tend to serve on an Ramadan table. The reason being that everyone has a different formula or food preferences to break the fast.
One thing we all agree on in our family: the starters. There has to be a selection of sweet and savoury rolls, triangles, turnovers, pies and quiches, stuffed msemmens. They all come in mini-shapes.
I have to say we are not the only family operating this way, I suspect most the Moroccans city-dwellers who can afford this variety do that.
It will be a blessed food if you share it with people in need, so we do regularly have someone knocking just before Iftar for food. A tray of the same food served for the family should be served to the person who is considered “Daif Allah” (God’s guest). Somehow, the food tastes even better when things go this way.
A lot of prepping goes in this. Having a freezer comes in handy since many recipes can be made ahead, or at least halfway. Check the Ramadan tag on this blog or use the search box for “freezer friendly”.
|In the process of filling a Ramadan Iftar table, So far the soup of the day as well as a selection of turnovers and rolls are being placed|
Serves 6 – 8 (or double if served as starters)
Prep: 25 min – Proofing: 2 hours – Baking: 20 to 35 min (depending on shape)
- Use a rough puff pastry for the turnovers or warqa for the rolls (a lighter version)
- 300 g of carrots, julienned or grated
- 300 g of courgettes, julienned or grated
- 1 medium-sized onion, chopped
- 80 g of button mushrooms, sliced (tinned are also good, drained)
- A handful of chopped spinach leaves or lettuce leaves
- 100 g of cold cuts, chopped (Mortadella, spicy cacher sausages sold by North African butchers)
- 1/4 tsp of ground ginger
- 1 clove of garlic, grated
- 1 green or red pepper, chopped (optional)
- 2 tbsps of olive oil
- 1 tbsp of soy sauce
- 2 tbsps of parsley or chives, chopped
- 3 tbps of green olives or pickles (gherkins, carrots, red peppers), chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 80 g of hard cheese, grated (Edam, cheddar..)
- 80 g of white cheese (Jben, strained ricotta)
- 1 egg yolk
Make the filling
In a large frying pan, sauté the onions for a couple of minutes. Add the carrots, courgettes, mushrooms and stir. Season with salt and pepper.
Sauté on high heat for another 3 minutes while stirring. Season and carry on cooking for another 3 minutes at maximum. Set aside to cool.
Add the rest of the ingredients except the white cheese (jben or ricotta). Place the mix in a sieve and press it. You don’t want to have any liquid coming out in the dough.
Shaping the turnovers
Roll the dough in length as much as you can but only maximum 2 mm thick. Place a tablespoon of vegetable filling, then top it with white cheese. Space between each filling.
Fold the dough on the filling and apply pressure on the sides all around it making sure to get rid of any air that might be trapped. You could smear egg yolk inside the edges to make sure the dough sticks but make sure it’s not too much or it won’t stick.
Cut all around the pressed surface each “half moon”. Pinch the edges or decorate them in any way you know.
Place the turnovers on a baking tray, covered with baking paper.
Preheat the oven at 200 degrees C. Egg wash each turnover. Make sure the egg wash does not go over the edges or the dough won’t puff.
Give the top a couple of incisions. I also make a small hole with a knife right in the middle Bake for about 20 mins at 190 degrees C or until nicely golden.
Serve at room temperature.