Posted by: A Part of the Solution | June 9, 2010

Bourek o’ My Heart

People complain about chard. And not just people who don’t have well-educated palates. In fact, it was one of Elizabeth David’s least favorite vegetables. It’s more popular cousin, Spinach, and it’s ubiquitous big sister, Beets, get all the press–but with chard one makes bourek. And I just love bourek.

Swiss Chard grows well in the mid-Atlantic region. Chard goes from the earliest part of the season straight through to the deep freeze of mid-Autumn. Chard is resistant to many of the commonest garden pests. It isn’t sensitive to dry weather, wet weather, too much sun or partial shade. It’s practically a weed in its own right.

Chard‘s rich, slightly bitter/slightly salty flavor is the best part of Bourek, as well as being an indicator of it’s nutritional value. Chard is just full of anti-oxidants, magnesium, iron, vitamins A, K and C, and lots of fiber too. Stir-fried, wilted, sautéed, stewed, steamed versions of chard are all delicious. But the combination of spices, sultanas, onions and olive oil with the chard all wrapped in a crumbly, crispy package of phyllo dough is a veritable apotheosis of flavor and savor.

Bourek are from everywhere around the Mediterranean. They have different names, and different fillings wherever they are made. They have different shapes, and different wrappers. This is the one I think of when I’m in the mood.


5 sheets of phyllo dough, defrosted

1/2 pound chard, stemmed and washed and drained and wilted and pressed dry

1 large onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 TBSP olive oil

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp black pepper

3/4 tsp salt

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup sultanas plumped in hot water while assembling other ingredients

2 oz feta, if you like, crumbled (or combine zest of lemon, 1/2 tsp salt,  2 tsp juice of lemon, 3 TBSP nutritional yeast, 1 TBSP olive oil, 2 oz crumbled tofu)

1 can spray olive oil (so much easier than using a brush and a bowl of oil, and fewer calories too)

Preheat the oven to 400°.

Sauté the onion with the garlic and the spices over medium heat. When the onions are golden, add the chard and the drained, dried sultanas–and the cheese, or cheese substitute, if using. Allow to cool slightly while preparing the phyllo.

Lay one sheet of phyllo on the counter and spray it heavily with the olive oil. Add another sheet on top of the first, spray heavily, and repeat until they’re all used. Place the filling at one narrow end, leaving a one inch gap from the edge all the way around. Roll this, then tuck in the ends on the long side and continue to roll. You’ll have a cigar shaped bundle about ten inches long.

Put your bourek on a cookie sheet, spray it with olive oil one last time, and bake for 25 minutes until it’s golden brown and crispy.

Slice the bourek into short rounds and it’s ready to eat hot or at room temperature.



  1. People don’t like chard? Really?

    • Sorry, some of them just don’t. I hardly know what to think of such characters, but there you are!

  2. Fresh, steamed with a little butter & balsamic – what’s not to like? Sheesh.

    I eat it in mixed-green salads. I actually like the stalks, when they’re cut up and cooked right. They’re fairly sweet. And if you go for the multi-colored kind, it’s pretty to look at too. Makes it taste better, if you ask me. (which nobody did)

    Ya know – all those chard-disliers out there….if there’s a good dish with chard in it….but you don’t TELL them it’s chard, I bet they won’t know. I’ll bet a lot of chard-haters just had it served to them early in life in a less than appealing dish.

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