Recipe: Jibn - Syrian Spinach, Mushroom and Cheese Squares
A Jibn is a Sephardi savoury bake made with eggs, cheese and vegetables, somewhere between a Spanish omelette and a creamy quiche. I recently served these delicious little squares for brunch as the guest chef at a gourmet food and kitchen shop in Manhattan, where they were a spectacular success.
Serves 6-8, 12-16 as nibbles.
Leftovers: keep 2 days under refrigeration. Do not freeze.
● 40g (1 ½ oz) butter
● 1 tbsp olive oil
● 225g (8 oz) chestnut mushrooms, thinly sliced
● 1 medium onion, finely chopped
● 300g (10-11 oz) bag fresh spinach, roughly chopped
● 250-300g (8 -10 oz) cream cheese, softened
● ½ teaspoon dried herbes de Provence
● A small handful each fresh parsley and fresh dill, finely chopped
● 400g (14 oz) mature Cheddar, grated
● 6 large eggs
● Sprigs of fresh dill for serving
● Heat half of the butter and the olive oil in a medium sauté pan. Add the sliced mushrooms and a pinch of the salt (this draws out the moisture and helps the mushrooms brown).
● Sauté over medium-high heat until the mushrooms are a really rich brown and no liquid remains, 5-8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
● Add the remaining butter and onion to the pan. Sprinkle with another pinch of salt. Cover and cook gently for 5-8 minutes until the onion is very soft and golden. Uncover and sauté for a further 5 minutes until just beginning to colour.
● Add the spinach to the pan and cook, stirring well, until no liquid remains, about 3 minutes. Add the onion-spinach mixture to the mushrooms.
● Add all the remaining ingredients — except the eggs and 3 tbsp of the cheddar — to the vegetable mixture. Mix well with a fork until evenly blended. Add a teaspoon of salt and 15 grinds of black pepper (it should taste highly seasoned).
● Note: At this stage the mixture can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 24 hours.
● To bake: Preheat the oven to 190˚C (375˚F, gas 5). Grease a 23 x 23cm (9 x 9in) baking tin or ovenproof dish and line the bottom with silicone paper or a non-stick liner.
● Beat the eggs to blend, then add to the cheese and vegetable mixture. Mix thoroughly with a fork until evenly blended. Pour into the prepared tin and sprinkle with the reserved cheddar.
● Bake for 40 minutes until the centre is just set and the top is flecked with brown. If the mixture is set but the top is pale, place under the grill for 2-3 minutes.
● Remove from the oven and cool until barely warm. Loosen the sides, turn out on to a cutting board then flip on to a second board. Cut into 4 cm (1 ½in) squares (or larger if you are serving as a main dish).
● Serve warm or at room temperature on a platter or a wooden board garnished with sprigs of dill.