Sheets of phyllo re-create the texture of the traditional dough typically used in this savory Mediterranean pastry.
SERVES 10 to 12 VEG
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS Borek is a savory filled pastry found throughout the eastern Mediterranean. It’s traditionally made by layering sheets of thin dough with a variety of appealing fillings that can include meat, vegetables, and cheese. Borek can take the shape of rounds, casseroles, rolled cigars, and even hand pies. After testing several different recipes, we decided to make a Turkish-style casserole filled with winter squash and cheese. Boreks are traditionally made using yufka dough, which is thicker and doughier than phyllo but thinner than a flour tortilla. Because yufka dough is not widely available, we turned to phyllo to be our stand-in. Although we typically brush each layer of phyllo with oil to help crisp the sheets into individual flaky layers, we instead painted small stacks of phyllo with a mixture of egg and milk for this recipe. This saturated the thin layers and glued them together, forming a noodle-like dough that mimicked the chew and thickness of traditional yufka. Pumpkin is used frequently in Turkish cooking, and canned pumpkin puree made an ultrasimple and flavorful base for our filling. We seasoned the puree with white wine, garlic, and ginger and created a second filling layer with rich cottage cheese, salty halloumi, and fresh mint. Tasters couldn’t get enough of the finished borek with its sweet, savory, chewy layers that came together into a presentation-worthy dish. Phyllo dough is also available in larger 18 by 14-inch sheets; if using, cut them in half to make 14 by 9-inch sheets. Do not thaw the phyllo in the microwave; let it sit in the refrigerator overnight or on the counter for 4 to 5 hours. While working with the phyllo, cover the sheets with plastic wrap, then a damp dish towel to prevent drying.
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1½ teaspoons salt
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
½ teaspoon pepper
1½ cups dry white wine
3 (15-ounce) cans unsweetened pumpkin puree
5 large eggs
12 ounces halloumi cheese, grated (3 cups)
8 ounces (1 cup) cottage cheese
½ cup chopped fresh mint
⅓ cup whole milk
1 large egg
2 pounds (14 by 9-inch) phyllo, thawed
1. FOR THE FILLING Heat oil in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion and salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, ginger, and pepper and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in wine, bring to simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is very tender and mixture has reduced slightly and measures 1¼ cups, 15 to 20 minutes.
2. Transfer onion mixture to food processor and let cool slightly. Add pumpkin and eggs and process until mixture is thoroughly combined and smooth, about 3 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Combine halloumi, cottage cheese, and mint in separate bowl.
3. FOR THE LAYERS Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk milk and egg together in bowl until combined. Trim 50 phyllo sheets to 12½ by 8½ inches.
4. Spread 1 cup pumpkin filling on bottom of greased 13 by 9-inch baking dish. Lay 5 phyllo sheets in dish, brush with egg mixture, then top with 5 more phyllo sheets.
5. Brush phyllo with egg mixture, then spread 2⅓ cups pumpkin filling evenly on top. Lay 5 more phyllo sheets in dish, brush with egg mixture, then top with 5 more phyllo sheets.
6. Brush phyllo with egg mixture, then spread half of cheese mixture evenly on top. Lay 5 more phyllo sheets in dish, brush with egg mixture, then top with 5 more phyllo sheets.
7. Working from center outward, use palms of your hands to gently compress layers and press out any air pockets. Repeat layering in steps 5 and 6, then brush top with egg mixture.
8. Trim 10 phyllo sheets to 13 by 9 inches. Spread remaining pumpkin filling evenly on phyllo layers. Lay 5 large phyllo sheets in dish, brush with egg mixture, then top with 5 more large phyllo sheets. Gently compress layers and wipe away excess filling that may have leaked out along sides of dish. Brush top with egg mixture and bake until borek registers 165 degrees and top is puffed and golden brown, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool for 30 minutes before serving.
Making Pumpkin Borek
1.MAKE PUMPKIN AND CHEESE FILLINGS Process onion-wine mixture with pumpkin and eggs until mixture is thoroughly combined and smooth. Combine halloumi, cottage cheese, and mint in separate bowl.
2.START LAYERING Spread 1 cup pumpkin filling on bottom of greased 13 by 9-inch baking dish, then build layers of phyllo, egg mixture, pumpkin filling, and cheese filling.
3.MAKE FINAL LAYER Spread remaining pumpkin filling evenly on phyllo layers and top with remaining 10 phyllo sheets. Gently compress layers and wipe away excess filling that may have leaked out along sides of dish.
4.BAKE Brush top with egg mixture and bake until borek registers 165 degrees and top is puffed and golden brown, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool for 30 minutes before serving.