January 27, 2011

Zelnik (Зелник)

This traditional Bulgarian variant of Banitsa (Баница) is really delicious and our favorite during the Holiday season. Usual recipe calls for leeks, spinach and sorrel, but you can put any leafy greens that you have on hand and you will not be disappointed. Lokuma made this couple of weeks ago and she put kale and it tasted really good! Online you can find other recipes for Zelnik and some of those even include meat, but where we come from we've always had it vegetarian.

1 pack fillo dough
3 eggs
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 lb feta cheese, crumbled
3 leeks
1 bunch spinach
1 bunch kale
1/8 cup butter + 1/8 cup olive oil

0. Preheat oven to 400F.

1. Wash the leeks really well to get rid of any dirt and slice them finely (using food processor really helps here). Wash the kale and chop really finely. Wash and chop the spinach.


2. Saute the leeks with a little bit of olive oil over medium heat for about 5 min. Then add the chopped kale and cook with the leeks until fully cooked (10 min). Last add the spinach and cook until all water has been released (5 min).


3. In a large mixing bowl combine the crumbled feta and eggs and mix well. Then add the yogurt and mix until homogeneous consistency.

4. Melt the butter and the olive oil and lightly grease the bottom of a 9' x 13' pan.

5. Place one sheet of fillo dough and grease it slightly with the oil+butter (very easy if you have a brush). Then place a second sheet of dough on top of it and grease again. Place a third sheet and this time add 1/3 of the sauteed greens (distribute evenly along the surface) and 1/3 of the egg+feta+yogurt mix. Cover the filling with new sheet of fillo dough and repeat the layering (pretty much 3 sheets of fillo dough greased lightly in between => filling =>3 sheets fillo dough => filling => 3 sheets of fillo dough => filling => 3 sheets fillo dough).


6. Once done layering, cut the Zelnik into squares and put in the oven.

7. Bake at 400F for ~ 40 min or until nicely brown. You can cover with  aluminum foil for the first 20 min to prevent the edges from becoming too brown.


  1. My mother only used spinach, egg and cheese. I remember her using feta, but not yogurt. Why yogurt?

  2. Zelnik is a popular Balkan pastry, known for its thin layers of dough filled with various ingredients like cheese, spinach, or minced meat. Why Game Suspended This savory treat is baked until golden and flaky, offering a delightful blend of flavors and textures.