It took me a few years to figure this out. I’m a forest person. They usually ask you if you are an ocean or a mountain person. If you’d feel more relaxed watching the waves or enjoying the view from the peak. I was born at the Baltic Sea, so in my mind I certainly had always been some kind of an ocean person. And I definitely prefer the ocean over the mountains.
Yes, I do feel at home and at ease with myself and the rest of the world when I take a walk at my hometown beach. The rough waves, the crisp air and the smell of sea calms me down. They can be comfort in times of struggle. But the forest, the deep, dark, quiet forest does more than that.
It’s difficult to put this into worlds but every time I step into the woods it feels like I’m shielded from the outside word. My mind is empty. There are no worries, no to-do lists, no limits to my capabilities. At least, in my head. Simply put, it’s the place were my thoughts can run free. A place where the light is not bright and sunny but moody and broken. Where the air is not crisp and clean but damp and heavy. But first and foremost it’s a place that feels quiet and peaceful.
The ocean on the other side with its crushing waves and screaming seagulls, it only drowns the worries. In the forest, everything is gone except for my ideas.
So until recently when someone asked me where I’d love the spend the rest of my life, I would have answered, somewhere in a small cottage at the beach. Now, I’d say a wooden house deep in the forest.
Unfortunately there isn’t much accessible forest area around Istanbul, something I clearly miss. But when you drive a few hours towards the northwest of Turkey, to a Provence called Bolu, there is a region known for its magical landscape and foggy forests.
When we spontaneously decided on Friday afternoon to do a little road trip to Bolu Provence, I knew I had to make something for a picnic in the woods. The Turkish Börek Pie with Mushrooms and Spinach is the result of creating a quick recipe that is picnic friendly but also something I had never tried a vegan version of. Luckily in Istanbul it’s quite easy to get vegan phyllo (filo) pastry at the supermarket because as with so many other Turkish recipes, it’s originally vegan. The filling is a simple but seasonal mushroom and spinach stir fry and tastes similar to some traditional vegetable mezes (Turkish Appetizers) I had eaten before.
The first day we arrived in the Bolu province, the weather was fairly good and the sky was clear. Unfortunately that also meant that many people where using the public picnic areas. However the next day, the fog had come back at full force and with it some light rain and a fresh breeze. When we arrived at the picnic area again, there was no one except for some wood peckers and other birds. The perfect scenery to shoot my Turkish Börek Pie. Covered in rain coats and equipped with an umbrella we embraced the moody weather. I hope you love the images, too.
Turkish Börek Pie with Mushrooms & Spinach – A Vegan Recipe
- 6-7 sheets of phyllo (filo) pastry
- 700 grams of assorted mushrooms (I used brown button mushrooms), halved or quartered
- 900 g frozen spinach, defrosted
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp tamari sauce
- a few springs of thyme
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- ¼ tsp garlic powder (or 2 fresh cloves, finely chopped)
- salt and pepper to taste
- olive oil for cooking
- Preheat oven to 180°C / 350°F
- In a large frying pan, heat some olive oil and add the chopped onion and mushrooms. Brown for 5 -10 min.
- Add tamari sauce, maple syrup, garlic powder, thyme springs, pepper and salt and continue cooking for another 2 min.
- In the meantime, squeeze the water out of the spinach and remove any access liquid from the mushroom pan with a ladle. You want the mixture to be very "dry".
- Add spinach to mushroom mixture and continue cooking for 2 min.
- Now prepare the pastry. Lightly brush your baking pan or tin (I used a Dutch Oven) with olive oil, then place the first sheet of phyllo pastry in the center of the pan and line the base and sides of the pan with phyllo pastry. Brush three more sheets lightly with olive oil, place in the pan, oil side down and leave some excess to hang over the edge.
- Once you placed 4 phyllo sheets in your pan, first remove thyme springs and then pour mushroom mixture over the phyllo into pan and spread evenly.
- Fold excess pastry onto the top of the pie. Take two or three more phyllo sheets, crumble them to give that ruffle effekt and place them on top of the pie. Brush with oil.
- Bake for 30 min.
- Serve warm or at room temperature with salad and/or vegan yoghurt sauce