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Celebrate Arab American Heritage Month with the Most Popular Savory Pies of the Levant: Fatayer Sabanekh (Spinach Pies)

posted on: Apr 8, 2024

By: Blanche Shaheen/Arab America Contributing Writer

With Arab American Heritage Month, Eid al Fitr, and Greek Orthodox lent upon us at the same time, there is one dish that fits the bill for all 3 occasions, Fatayer Sabanekh, or Arab style spinach pies. The word “fatayer” itself means pastry in Arabic. 

These vegetarian hand pies, which are popular in Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria,  are similar to mini calzones. Triangular shaped pillowy dough envelops a lemony spinach filling with sweet onions and tangy sumac, perfect for lunches, picnics, potlucks, and parties. 

As a child I would be elated to come home from school to eat some freshly baked fatayer in my mother’s cozy kitchen. My favorite way to eat them would be dipped in creamy and garlicky hummus, and I couldn’t wait to pack them in my school lunch the next day. When my mother would  bake up a massive batch of these fatayer for bake sales, they would sell out in less than an hour, earning thousands of dollars in sales for my school. They are really that addictive

The following recipe contains a modern shortcut that works wonderfully for busy homecooks, using store bought pizza dough that you can find in most supermarket deli sections. The key to success with store bought dough is to let the dough rise between every step. With the time you save using this shortcut, you will find that you will want to make this recipe far more often, not just for special occasions. 

To see the technique on how to make these pies, click on the video below:


1 package store bought pizza dough

For the filling:  

  • 4   large bunches spinach, washed and chopped  
  • Salt, to taste  
  • 3   tablespoons olive oil  
  • Juice of 1 lemon  
  • 1 small  onion, finely grated  
  • 1   tablespoon sumac (available at Middle Eastern stores)
  • ¼ cup feta crumbled cheese (optional)
P545K7 Arabic and middle eastern food concept. Fatayer sabanekh – traditional arabic spinach triangle hand pies on a white stone background.

Knead the dough by hand for 3 minutes. Let the dough sit for 15 minutes, then knead some more. Let the dough rise in a covered bowl and in a warm place for about 30 minutes.  Punch down the dough and roll into golf sized balls. balls. Place on a buttered cookie sheet and let rise another 20 minutes, covered with a towel. Roll out each ball of dough to 4-5 inches in diameter with a rolling pin, adding flour to the work surface if it gets too sticky. Try to shape them into perfectly rounded disks. Place the dough rounds on an oiled pan and cover with a towel. Let the dough rest for another 15 minutes. Now it is time to fill and shape the fatayer. 

To make filling: Wash and chop the spinach. Sprinkle with salt to cause wilting. Squeeze the water from the spinach with your hands. Make sure you squeeze out any excess moisture from the onion as well, using a paper towel or cheesecloth. Add the olive oil, lemon, salt, onion and sumac to the spinach. You can also add feta cheese if you wish. 

To assemble: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  

Place 1 tablespoon of spinach filling in the center. Pinch the ends to meet in the middle to create a triangular shape. Let the pies rest another 15 minutes. Bake the pies for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Blanche Shaheen is the author of the cookbook called “Feast In the Middle East, a Journey of Family and Cuisine”  which you can order here:   She is also a journalist, and host of the popular cooking show called Feast in the Middle East. She specializes in Arab cuisine of the Levant and beyond.  You can check out her cooking video tutorials at    Her recipes can also be found at