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Purslane, Pomegranate, and Tofu Bourekas


In Feeding the Women of the Talmud, Feeding Ourselves, compiled by Kenden Alfond, the stories of female personalities in the Talmud are retold and honored with a fresh vegan recipe. “Purslane, Pomegranate, and Tofu Bourekas” is inspired by Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi’s maidservant.


I imagine Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi’s maidservant to have been a capable cook, who served the family, students, and high-profile visitors.


I was intrigued by the story of her identifying purslane when the rabbis could not understand the word.


Purslane is a type of succulent eaten widely across warm climates across the world. It can often be found in Asian or Arabic grocers. It can be replaced with spinach, as in this recipe. If you do source purslane, use half the quantity, chop it to a similar size to the onions, and saute it with them, without wilting it down.


Prepare the Bourekas


Heat the oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions and gently sweat, stirring from time to time until they are soft but not browned. Add the spinach and cover with the lid until it has wilted down. Remove the lid and cook a little longer until the water released has cooked off.


Turn into a sieve to drain off any futher water. Press down to squeeze out any remaining moisture, then tip into a bowl.


Stir in the sumac, salt, lemon juice, and pomegranate molasses. Add the cubed tofu. Taste and adjust  as necessary. If preparing ahead of time, this mix will keep in the refrigerator for two days.


Preheat over to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius) and line a large oven tray with baking parchment, or lightly oil.


Unroll the pastry and cut into three-and-a-half-inch (nine-centimeter) squares.


Lightly brush the edges of each square with olive oil and spoon a scant tablespoon of filling into the middle. Fold over one corner to the other to make a triangular parcel. Be careful not to overfill, and make sure you push out any extra air pockets. Use any pastry offcuts to make mini parcels.


Brush lightly with oil and sprinkle with sesame or nigella seeds. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown.


Cool a little before eating – best eaten warm. They will keep for a couple of days in the refrigerator, but warm them for 10 minutes in a hot oven to crisp up the pastry before eating.


Recipe excerpted from Feeding the Women of the Talmud, Feeding Ourselves (Turner Publishing Company, September 2022). Available for pre-order now.