I have to say when I first started to look up information on Albania, I was not very interested and did not expect to spend much time seeing what the country had to offer. But when I saw that LonelyPlanet.com had ranked Albania as one of their Top 10 countries to visit in 2011, I decided to delve a little deeper.
I hope I don't offend anyone here, but what I found was actually not too exciting for me. From what I gather Albania is pretty much what I thought it would be like, a former Soviet block country that is slowly bringing their way into the 21st century. To some that may be exactly what they are looking for, but it really isn't for me.
Albania is located on the coast of the Adriatic sea and actually borders Greece, Macedonia, Kosovo and Montenegro. Because of the unique location, Albania does offer a lot of old world culture and charm that can't be found most places in the world. Because of that, I believe is why many recommend you visit there soon as that could all slowly change in the next 5-10 years. There are several historical sites throughout the country that are almost untouched since the Ottoman Empire occupied the region and there is a long coastline to enjoy as well.
That is pretty much the extent of what I found to be interesting in the country though. Their cuisine is primarily lamb and vegetable dishes, which does not really do it for me, but I was able to find one interesting recipe that I'd like to try with you all here.
It is a traditional Albanian dish called Byrek and it is basically a pie dish filled with meat, spinach and cheese. For this recipe though I decided to take out the meat and make this into a spinach and cheese pie, which is also common in the area.
1 cup of olive oil
30 pastry leaves of Filo Dough - usually found in the frozen section of the supermarket(I had a hard time finding them at first so I thought I'd share that!)
1 1/2 pounds spinach, chopped
1 cup diced feta cheese
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 teaspoon of salt
Lightly coat a medium sized baking pan(a round pie pan is perfect) with the olive oil.
Begin layering the pastry leaves by first laying two leaves and sprinkle oil on top of them.
Then lay two more leaves, and repeat the procedure until half of the leaves are laid out. Make sure the leaves cover the pan by hanging them one inch over the edges of the pan.
In a separate bowl, wash the spinach and chop it up finely into the bowl.
Mix the spinach, feta cheese, oil, onions, eggs and salt together well and spread the mixture over the already laid pastry leaves
Begin covering the mixture with the remaining pastry leaves in the same fashion as you did before
Once everything is covered, roll the dough hanging over the edges to make a crust.
Sprinkle olive oil on the top and put it in the over on 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until brown and enjoy!