Spiced beef, salty cheese fill Turkey’s top street food

Outside the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, a woman in a headscarf slaps a ball of dough between her formidable hands and stretches it over the dome of a large saç griddle.

She sprinkles half of the paper-thin dough with chewy white cheese, a tangle of bitter greens and a crumble of spiced beef. By the time she folds it shut with a long wooden dowel, the flatbread is already bubbly and browned.

This is gozleme, one of Turkey’s most common street foods. The scene is repeated all over Istanbul, and it’s easy enough to replicate at home with a few substitutions.

For this recipe in our book “COOKish,” which limits recipes to just six ingredients without sacrificing flavor, we use items easily found in a U.S. supermarket. Spinach instead of the bitter greens, flour tortillas and feta cheese, which has a similar saltiness to the Turkish one, made a faithfully tasty stuffed flatbread.

To quickly build flavor, we cooked the ground beef with tomato paste and cumin before adding the spinach to the pan. And we made sure to cook the stuffed tortillas in the skillet until golden brown for additional texture and a toasty aroma.

Beef, Spinach and Feta Gozleme


Start to finish: 40 minutes

Servings: 4

1 pound 90% lean ground beef

3 tablespoons tomato paste

2½ teaspoons ground cumin

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

5-ounce container baby spinach, roughly chopped

4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (¾ cup)

Four 10-inch flour tortillas

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

In a nonstick 12-inch skillet, cook the beef, tomato paste, cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper and ½ cup water, until the beef is no longer pink. Add the spinach and cook, stirring, until the pan is dry. Transfer to a bowl; cool for 10 minutes, then stir in the feta. Wipe out the skillet. Divide the mixture among the tortillas, spreading it over the center third; fold each like a business letter. In the skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of the oil until shimmering. Add 2 tortillas and cook until golden on both sides, then transfer to plates. Repeat with the remaining oil and tortillas.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For more recipes, go to Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street at 177milkstreet.com/ap

Copyright © 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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