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Are you tired of the same old ham and cheese sandwich? Deli meats and cheeses seem to naturally wind up in between two slices of bread. Instead, today I’m taking inspiration form my daughter’s favorite pizza combo to make flaky warm pastry “sandwich” Ham and Cheese Turnovers with Za’atar. Our pizza orders always involve ham, pineapple and caramelized onions. It’s delicious, and the sweet pineapple balances with the cheese and onions beautifully. This tangy sauce made of mustard, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce gives each bite a punch of flavor.
Don’t be intimidated by puff pastry. It can handle some handling. You may have to pull and stretch the top to fit over the bottom piece and the stuffing, but don’t worry. Puff pastry sheets are really easy to work with. I find it much more manageable than Phylo dough, which dries easily.
Start by caramelizing the onions low and slow allowing them to absorb the pineapple juice as they cook. Once this is finished, you’ll want to hide it. It is so good on its own, and if you’re not looking, someone (my husband) might eat it all.
If you choose to cut the pastry into squares instead of rectangles you can fold them into triangles. These are smaller when finished, but makes a great appetizer.
Look at these amazing layers of delicious pastry and cheesy, saucy deliciousness. I made some with Za’atar and some without, but next time I will make all of them with Za’atar. It is the perfect spice blend to pair with these ingredients. I brought some home from Morocco and my friend Mai of Almond and Fig brought me some from her homeland of Palestine. (Real friends bring you spices and cool ingredients.) But you’re in luck, Za’atar is easy to find in the spice aisle these days as it’s become very popular, and for good reason… it’s delicious!
Ham and Cheese Turnovers
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 sweet onion sliced thin
- 2 cups fresh pineapple cubed + 1 cup pineapple juice
- pinch of salt + pepper
- 2 sheets frozen puff pastry thawed
- 1/2 cup dijon mustard
- 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 2 Tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- Pinch of cayenne
- 12 slices of ham thinly sliced
- 6 slice gruyere cheese
- 6 slices or 6 oz shredded Emmental or Gouda or Swiss
- 1 egg beaten
- 2 Tbsp. Za’atar
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the butter. Add the onions and cook about 10-20 minutes, stirring frequently, until caramel brown. Slowly add the pineapple chunks and the pineapple juice, a little at a time, letting everything cook into the onions. Slowly add more until you’ve added all the pineapple chunks and juice. Cook until the onions are caramelized to your liking and the pineapple juice has evaporated. Remove from the heat.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Roll out the puff pastry sheets and cut each sheet into 9 squares to make triangles or five rectangles. Place pastry on a piece of wax paper or parchment paper (this will prevent sticking).
- In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce. Brush the mustard mix lightly on each square of puff pastry.
- Divide the onion/pineapple mixture among half of the pastry squares, top with ham and cheese. Don’t overfill, otherwise it will be very difficult to seal the edges.
- Brush egg wash around the perimeter of each pastry square and carefully fold dough over filling to create triangles. Pinch the edges closed with a fork to create a good seal. Generously brush the top of each turnover with egg wash, sprinkle with Za’atar. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly golden. Serve immediately with a sprinkle of chopped fresh thyme and flaky sea salt.