In April, I celebrated Ash’s birthday with her potluck-style. I was thinking of bringing cold rolls, and then I got excited at the idea of a day inventing up something in the kitchen, and making something Ash-friendly was a great excuse to do so!
One of my favourite things to eat is actually a whole category of food: appetizers. I just love them. I could make a whole meal (and more!) of appetizers — and often do! Since going gluten-free, I’ve been craving things-wrapped-in-pastry. So I decided it was high time to get on experimenting with gluten-free pastry appetizers. While I was at it, I decided to also make them vegan. And I think I have achieved success with a savoury gluten-free and vegan pastry!
Therefore, I very proudly introduce you to my Swiss Chard & Sweet Potato Fatayer:
Fatayer are pastries from Arabic cuisine, and I’m used to them being made with wheat flour (or in my former kitchen, whole wheat flour) and stuffed with spinach. I have made my own riff on fatayer — making the pastry out of chickpea flour and brown rice flour, and stuffing them with swiss chard and all sorts of delicious veggie things: sweet potato, caramelised shallots, toasted pine nuts, and Middle Eastern-inspired spices (sumac, cumin, nutmeg, and spicy Aleppo pepper).
The pastry wrapper here is quite filling as it is made from a combination of chickpea flour and brown rice flour. It’s inspired by Clothilde’s Easy Olive Oil Tart Crust, which I used for all savoury tarts and then adapted for my Swiss Chard & Onion Tart with a Chickpea Flour Crust. If you normally eat half a dozen puff pastry appetizers, you’ll only need a couple of these to fill you up.
I will tell you now, this is a labour-intensive recipe. You should have a lazy afternoon in the kitchen planned, with a couple of free hours to get everything prepped, assembled, and baked. But they are sooooooo worth it for a special occasion. Like a dear friend’s birthday.
Swiss Chard & Sweet Potato Fatayer
Makes about 48 fatayer (plan for about 2-3 per guest if serving as the only appetizer, they are quite filling)
- 133 g (3/4 c. + 2 Tbsp.) chickpea flour
- 367 g (2 1/3 c.) brown rice flour + extra for rolling out the dough
- 5 g (1 tsp.) sea salt
- 5 g (1 tsp.) za’atar
- 125 ml (1/2 c.) olive oil
- 250 ml (1 c.) cold water
- 15 ml (1 Tbsp). coconut oil
- 6 shallots, peeled & thinly sliced
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
- 1/2 bunch swiss chard, leaves and stems separated and chopped separately
- 1/4 c. pine nuts
- 1 tsp. sumac
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/4-1/2 tsp. Aleppo pepper
Begin by making the dough. In a bowl, whisk together chickpea & brown rice flours, along with the sea salt and za’atar. Pour the olive oil over the top and mix with your fingers to combine. Sprinkle the water over top, and use your fingers to combine all of the ingredients. Turn out onto a counter dusted with extra brown rice flour, and form into a ball of dough.
Flatten into a disc, and wrap with plastic wrap or wax paper. Let cool in the fridge for 30 minutes.
While the dough is chilling, prepare the filling.
In a large pan over low heat, melt the coconut oil. Add the shallots and sea salt, and caramelise over low heat until they are soft and sweet and browned (if you’ve never caramelised shallots before, it’s just the same as my tutorial for How to Caramelise Onions — just with shallots instead!).
While the shallots are caramelising, steam the veggies over medium heat: put a small amount of water in a large pot, and fit a steamer basket inside. Pop the sweet potatoes into the steamer basket and steam for 8 minutes. Add the swiss chard stems and steam for 2 minutes more. Finally, add the swiss chard leaves and steam for a final 1 minute.
In a separate small pan over medium-low heat, toast the pine nuts until golden brown. Make sure you watch them as you do this, as they can burn quite quickly.
In a large bowl, combine all of the filling ingredients: caramelised shallots, steamed sweet potato & chard, toasted pine nuts, sumac, cumin, nutmeg, and Aleppo pepper.
Preheat oven to 400F.
Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out into a thin layer (about 6mm or 1/4″ thick). Cut out with a 10cm (4″) biscuit cutter or round cookie cutter.
Place a teaspoon of filling into the centre of each cut out pastry round.
Fold into triangles by folding up one side:
Then a second side:
Then a third side, and press all the sides together to seal well:
You can speed up this process by making yourself a little assembly line:
Carefully transfer the pastries onto a baking sheet:
And bake at 400F for 15-18 minutes, or until the pastries are golden brown:
Serve warm, or at room temperature. If you need to reheat them, pop them back into the oven or into a toaster oven to maintain their texture. Enjoy with good friends.