Photography by Armando Rafael and food styling by Judy Haubert
Celebrating the springtime holiday Shavuot is “something I can’t forget,” says journalist-turned-chef Alon Hadar. When he was little, Kurdish women in his grandmother’s Jerusalem neighborhood Givat Shaul would gather and build a fire to prepare kadeh, a stuffed bread filled with cheese that honors the tradition of eating dairy-laden dishes on Shavuot. The kadeh “was the queen on the table,” says Alon, served alongside a rich yogurt sauce called zijik that’s made with fresh purslane. This recipe, which adds spinach to the filling, is Alon’s riff on the kadeh his grandmother made.
4 ounces Armenian-style string cheese, pulled into small pieces
4 ounces halloumi, roughly chopped
White bread flour, for rolling and dusting
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons nigella seeds
For the zijik:
1 cup whole milk yogurt
¼ cup sour cream
3 scallions, finely chopped
¼ cup purslane or watercress, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Add the flours, water, oil, sugar, salt, and yeast into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Knead the ingredients on a low speed for 15 minutes until a smooth dough is formed.
Transfer the dough into a large bowl greased with olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest in a warm place for 1½ hours or until doubled in size. Alternatively, let the dough rise in a refrigerator for 24 hours until doubled in size.
While the dough rises, prepare the filling: Place the spinach into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of salt. Massage the spinach with your hands for 1-2 minutes until it wilts and releases its liquid. Set the spinach aside for 20 minutes. Squeeze out the excess liquid from the spinach. Add the feta, mozzarella, and halloumi cheese into the bowl with the spinach. Mix until the mixture is well combined, and set aside.
Meanwhile, make the zijik: Mix all the ingredients in a bowl until combined well. Cover and store in the refrigerator until serving.
Transfer the dough onto a lightly oiled surface and divide it into 20-22 equal pieces. Space out the pieces on an oiled sheet tray 1 inch apart, and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 475°F. Place a pizza stone into the oven if you have one. Alternatively, cover the underside of a sheet pan with aluminum foil, and place the baking sheet into the oven upside down.
Assemble the kadeh: Lightly flour a large work surface, and roll out a piece of dough into a circle, 6-7 inches wide. Place 2 heaping tablespoons of the filling onto the one half of the dough, leaving a ½-inch border. Brush a bit of water along the edges of the dough. Fold the dough into a semicircle and close the seam, pressing down with your fingers. Seal the edges by creating a crimp-like design by pressing dimples into the edge with your index finger, and prick all over with a fork. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.
Place the kadeh onto the preheated pizza stone or baking pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the bread is golden and cooked through. Take the kadeh out of the oven, place onto a cooling rack, and immediately brush the top with olive oil and sprinkle with nigella seeds. Serve hot.