Middle Eastern spinach and cheese cigars

These cheese cigars are a staple in Middle Eastern cuisine. You’ll find them on pretty much every single mezze spread, anywhere from Turkey to Iran. Sometimes they’re fried, sometimes they’re baked, and the filling often changes: ground beef and pine nuts, cheese and mint, or spinach and cheese are all typical combinations.

cheese cigars

These cheese cigars are one of those things my Armenian family used to make regularly. But while I’m pretty sure that my grandmother was probably making the dough from scratch (like all grandmothers do, am I right?), I found the perfect dough that you can buy at most Middle Eastern spice shops in France: Yufka dough.

What is Yufka dough?

These premade pastry sheets are perfect for making cheese cigars. All you need to do is cut each triangle in half (unless you want a really giant cigar, in which case I won’t judge you), fill it with the spinach and cheese mixture, roll it, egg wash it, and sprinkle it with some nigella seeds. That’s literally it! So I’d definitely attempt to find Yufka dough and then always keep a package in the freezer. That way you can whip up these spinach and cheese cigars in no time!

What kind of filling should I make for cheese cigars?

cheese cigars filling and folding

You can try out any of the different filling combinations I mentioned above, or you can stick with this version that features baby spinach, a mixture of feta and ricotta cheese, and dried mint. Mint and cheese is a classic pairing in Middle Eastern cuisine, and for me, it’s a flavor that takes me right back to my summers in Aleppo as a kid when my grandmother would make me melted cheese and mint sandwiches in pita bread for a snack. Funnily enough, the word in Armenian for grandma (“nana”) is very similar to the Arabic word for mint (“nene”). Coincidence? Or signature recipe? 😉

cheese cigars 2

My recipe for cheese cigars

cheese cigars 2
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Middle Eastern cheese and spinach cigars

These cheese cigars with spinach are a typical Middle Eastern snack. This version is baked and results in a lighter cigar that's super easy to make!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Armenian, Lebanese, Middle Eastern, Syrian
Keyword: cheese and spinach cigars, cheese cigars
Servings: 12 cigars
Calories: 150kcal

Ingredients

  • 6 Yufka dough sheets
  • 1 egg
  • 125 g Feta cheese crumbled or finely chopped
  • 50 g Ricotta cheese
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 handful fresh parsley chopped
  • 3 tbsp dried mint or fresh, finely chopped
  • 100 g baby spinach washed
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • Nigella seeds
  • chili powder (optional)

Instructions

  • Start by wilting the baby spinach in a pan over medium-high heat with the minced garlic clove and about 1 tablespoon of water. Cook until the spinach is dark green and soft, with no water remaining.
  • Once the spinach is cooked, strain it well and chop it roughly.
  • In a large mixing bowl, add the crumbled Feta cheese, the Ricotta cheese, the chopped parsley, the fresh or dried mint, and the garlicky spinach (once it's cooled down to room temperature). Mix well, season with salt and pepper to taste. You can also add some chili pepper here if you'd like.
    spinach and cheese
  • Preheat the oven to 200C and line a baking tray with a sheet of parchment paper.
  • Cut each sheet of Yufka dough in half to make a smaller triangle. Brush each sheet with a little bit of water to make sure the dough is slightly moist and not dry.
  • Add about a tablespoon of the filling at the longer end of the triangle, then roll the triangle into a tube.
    filling
  • Quickly whisk the egg in a small bowl with a fork. Using your finger, brush the tip of the triangle with the egg, using it as glue to close the tube. Place the cigar on the baking tray.
  • Repeat until all of the filling is gone and you've used up all of the dough.
  • Brush each cigar with the remaining egg wash, and then sprinkle with nigella seeds.
    rolled cigars
  • Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until the cigars are golden brown.

[FRANCAIS]

Cette recette utilise une pâte toute prête que vous pouvez trouver dans les épiceries Arabes partout en France: la pate Yufka. Il suffit de couper chaque triangle de pâte en deux (sauf si vous voulez des cigares ÉNORMES), la remplir avec la farce, la rouler, et hop au four ! Ah oui, on oublie pas de badigeonner avec de l’oeuf et de parsemer des graines de Nigelle. Surtout si vous avez des enfants, ils adorent faire ca !

La recette des cigares au fromage et épinards:

Ingredients

  • 6 feuilles de Yufka
  • 1 oeuf
  • 125 g de Feta (coupée en petits dés)
  • 50 g de Ricotta
  • sel et poivre
  • 1 poignée de persil frais, haché finement
  • 3 cas menthe seche (ou fraiche, haché finement) 
  • 100 g pousses d’epinards (lavées)
  • 1 gousse d’ail (emincé au presse-ail)
  • des graines de nigelle
  • du piment en poudre (optionnel)

Instructions

  • Commencez par faire une tombée de pousses d’épinards dans une poêle sur feu moyen-chaud, avec la gousse d’ail émincée. Faites cuire avec une c.a.s d’eau si besoin, jusqu’à ce que les épinards soient bien cuites et vert foncé, et qu’il ne reste plus d’eau.
  • Ensuite, egouttez les épinards bien et coupez les grossièrement.
  • Dans un grand bol, mettez la feta, le ricotta, le persil haché, la menthe (fraîche ou séchée), et les epinards. Mélangez bien et assaisonnez avec du sel et du poivre, et un peu de piment si vous voulez.
  • Préchauffez le four a 200C et mettez une feuille de papier cuisson sur une grande plaque de cuisson.
  • Coupez chaque feuille de Yufka au milieu pour obtenir 2 petits triangles. Humidifiez la pâte un peu avec de l’eau.
  • Rajoutez environ un c.a.s de la farce sur le bout long du triangle, et roulez-le jusqu’au bout. Ca devrait faire un tube ou un cigare.
  • Fouettez rapidement l’oeuf dans un petit bol avec une fourchette. En utilisant votre doigt, mettez un petit peu d’oeuf pour coller le petit bout de pâte qui dépasse, et placez la cigare sur la plaque de cuisson.
  • Continuez jusqu’à ce qu’il vous reste plus de pâte.
  • Avec un pinceau, brossez chaque cigare avec un peu d’oeuf et ensuite parsemez avec des graines de nigelle.
  • Faites cuire pour environ 20 minutes ou jusqu’à ce qu’il soient bien dorées.
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If you’re looking for my savory exotic recipes, you can find the rest of my savory recipes here!

The linen tea towels and bamboo placemats I used in these pictures come from Moodbox Paris.

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