What is your favorite bourekas? Most Israeli children are likely to answer: pizza.
The borek, or as we call it in Israel, bourekas, accompanied the conquests of the Ottoman Empire. Different versions of the pastry were adopted in all the countries under Ottoman rule or in many of those that had close commercial ties with the empire. In Greece and other parts of the Balkans the borek was assimilated into the local kitchen. In Bosnia it was shaped into a spiral and filled with meat, cottage cheese, spinach or potatoes and the boraki of Crete was filled with zucchinis and feta. The Tatars filled their flatbread-like chebureki with mutton, onion and spices; and when the empire spread to North Africa, local versions began appearing in Tunisia and Algeria.
The Turks would not necessarily approve of the Israeli pizza-flavored filling, but Israelis know what they like, and the pizza bourekas has become a local icon. As a hybrid created in the 1980s, it combines the best of everything — pizza tomato sauce, melting cheese, and sometimes green olives.
750 grams (1.6 pounds) puff pastry, preferably all-butter
1 cup Souri (green, bitter) olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
1⅓ cups grated low-moisture mozzarella
⅔ cup grated kashkaval cheese
For the sauce:
½ cup (100 grams) tomato paste
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon harissa
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons chopped oregano leaves
½ cup chopped parsley leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
- Prepare the sauce: mix all the ingredients to combine.
- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- Roll out the dough on a clean work surface into a rectangle 30cm/12-in wide and 5mm/0.2-in thick. You may want to cut the dough in half so that it is easier to work with.
- Spread the sauce over the dough in an even layer. Sprinkle the chopped olives and half of the grated cheese.
- Roll the dough tightly lengthwise into a 4cm/1½-in log. Using a sharp knife, cut into 2cm/0.8-in thick slices and transfer to the tray, cut side facing up, about 4cm/1½-in apart.
- Sprinkle the remaining grated cheeses on top and bake for 20 minutes, until puffed and golden.