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Moroccan Meat and Vegetable Pie

Phyllo dough makes this pie extra light and crispy, but sturdy enough to hold the delicious filling of spiced ground meat, mushrooms, spinach and Asian noodles. The best part is you don't have to travel to Morocco to eat it.

You might be familiar with the use of phyllo dough in the ever-so-popular Middle Eastern treat baklava, but did you know that it is just as scrumptious in savory dishes as well? 

Many Middle Eastern, Balkan and North African dishes share the use of this thin pastry called phyllo (in the Middle East), bourek (in some Balkan countries) or warqa (in North Africa). Warqa, which literally means leaf, is thinner and easier to handle than phyllo dough but,  unfortunately, not widely available in the American market. Phyllo dough is easily found in the freezer department of any of your local grocery stores and yields a softer and more melt-in-your mouth result than the North African warqa. While I've never tried this recipe with , I would not recommend to, as bourek's thickness lends itself more to frying than baking.

The dish may look exotic, but with ingredients familiar in American cuisine like ground meat, spinach, mushrooms and noodles you will soon find it very easy to cook and very comforting to devour. In addition to being delicious you will use only one pan from start to finish, which is always a plus in my agenda, because it means fewer dishes to clean.

To make Moroccan meat and vegetable pie, all of the ingredients are quickly cooked separately before being layered inside a buttered phyllo nest. Of course you can always cook the layers ahead of time, keeping the assembling time for when you are ready to serve as it bakes quite rapidly.

The pie is crunchy on the outside with a juicy, earthy and spicy filling. I assure you it is magnificent and probably unlike anything you've ever had!

Moroccan meat and vegetable pie

Serves six

For the crust:

  • 1 lb. package of frozen phyllo dough, defrosted overnight in the refrigerator
  • 1/2 stick of butter, melted

For the meat layer:

  • 1 lb. ground meat
  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped parsley

For the mushrooms layer:

  • 8 oz. white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

For the spinach mix:

  • 1 bunch of fresh spinach, or 14 oz. frozen spinach, defrosted and the excess water squeezed out

For the noodles layer:

  • 1 cup of Asian rice noodles

Heat the oil in a pan. Add the meat and the rest of the "meat layer" ingredients stirring and mashing with a fork to avoid any clumped meat. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a plate to cool down. Meanwhile, in the same pan, heat the oil and cook the mushrooms with the garlic until the mushrooms are tender and all water from the mushrooms has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool down.

If using fresh spinach, steam them until just wilted and still retain their fresh green color. Season with salt, black pepper and set aside. If using the frozen spinach, just cook in the same pan for five minutes with a bit of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. Cover the rice noodles with warm water and let stand for 10 minutes or until tender. Drain very well from the water, mix the meat filling and set aside.

To assemble the pie, cut the phyllo dough vertically and cover it with a damp napkin to prevent it from drying out. Wipe down the same pan you cooked in and layer the bottom with six sheets of phyllo dough generously brushed with butter, overhanging the sides of the pan.

Start assembly with a layer of the meat noodles mixture, followed by mushrooms, spinach and meat noodles mixture again. Cover with the overhanging sheets of phyllo and add three other sheets of phyllo, each also brushed with butter and tuck them in the sides of the pan like you would make your bed. Brush the top with the more melted butter.

Bake in a preheated 375F degree oven until golden, about 30 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes and invert onto a plate. Serve hot.

Local shopping spots

  • Phyllo dough: Phyllo can be found in the frozen foods section at in West Bloomfield, Mediterranean Market and Bakery in Farmington Hills, or in West Bloomfield.
  • Ground beef: in Farmington Hills has a sale on ground chuck ($1.99/lb).  in Farmington and West Bloomfield has a sale on ground chuck ($2.59/lb). in West Bloomfield has a sale on ground chuck ($2.69/lb). also has a sale on ground chuck ($2.79/lb). 
  • Mushrooms: has a sale on 8 oz. whole white mushrooms (3/$5)
  • Rice noodles: has a sale on Annie Chun's rice noodles 8oz ($2.99)
  • Butter: offers an online-only, printable coupon for any one 1 lb. package of Organic Valley salted or unsalted butter ($1 off).
  • Spinach: has a sale on 14-16 oz Spartan frozen vegetables ($1.99 each).

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