” Zelnik” – Potato and leek phyllo dough pastry

I have made this pastry almost 3 months ago, but I didn’t get the chance to post it earlier, so I am posting it now.
The prehistory of this pastry is unfamiliar to me- who “invented” it, who “advertised” it so others can start baking it, I really don’t know.
In my family though my Grandmother used to bake it for New year’s Eve. She said it is called ” zelnik” in Bulgarian, which literally means “made from cabbage”, but there is no cabbage in the recipe. For a long time I’ve tried to find out why is it called that way.
In different places in Bulgaria this is prepared differently. Some say they call it “zelnik” because they prepare it with spinach and leek and they are green in color (“zelen” in Bulgarian is the color green, so the word is closer to “zelnik“).
I cannot say that mine recipe is ” the right way” to prepare “Zelnik“, but this is the way it has stayed in the family for generations and we love to eat it, no matter how is called.

You can use store bought phyllo dough (you can find it in the freezer section even in Walmart, the most popular is Athens Food). If you do that skip the phyllo dough preparation explanation.

If you want homemade phyllo dough- the preparation is basically as the Turkish borek one. You can see it step-by-step here.

This time I used store bought phyllo dough.

For the filling-
1/2 lbs mashed potatoes
2 ans 1/2 cups cleaned and cut leek
2 eggs
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup grated mixed cheese

For the topping-
2 eggs
4 tbsp yogurt
4 tbsp water
1/8 tsp baking soda

Boil the potatoes, peel and mash them.Let them cool for at least 20 min.

Add the paprika, salt, black pepper, nutmeg and eggs!

In a pan sautee the Leeks with a tbsp of vegetable oil until they change their color to bright green. . Remember, this will take no more than 3 min! The leeks are very delicate, you don’t want them to “melt”.

In a big bowl combine the potatoes and leeks. Open the phyllo dough and place a couple of sheet on the bottom of a greased pan.

Now you can preheat the oven at 350F.
Spread couple of spoons of the potato-leek mixture over the phyllo dough and sprinkle the cheese on top.

Roll 3-4 sheets of phyllo dough together ( as shown in the picture). You can add as much sheets as you like, I like to roll 3 at first and then “close” it with 2 more on top of the opening of the roll.

Over the sheets in the greased baking pan place the rolls in a spiral as show in the picture, until you have finished all the sheets and potato-leek mixture.

If you have some cheese left, add it to the topping and spread evenly over the pastry.

Bake at 350 F for 40 min or until golden brown on top. Enjoy!