Samsag – an Armenian Turnover

My grandmother, Yeranuhe Vartanesian,
was famous (at least to us) for her
Banerov Hatz (cheese-onion) bread recipe. If
she had dough leftover, she would make a special treat called
Samsag, kind-of-like a turnover. Hers
was filled with cheeses, cooked potatoes, and a bunch of seasonings that was
simply delicious.

Baked Samsag
If you’re ambitious, and would like to
make dough from scratch, the recipe is included below. If, on the other hand, you’re
not interested in spending that much time in the kitchen, prepared pizza dough (sold
in most grocery stores in 1 lb. packages), will be your best alternative.
For the Samsag filling, you’ll need:
1 cup cottage cheese (small curd)
3 medium potatoes, cooked, peeled and finely
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. crumbled Gorgonzola or Blue cheese 
2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
Seasonings: cumin, oregano, allspice, paprika to
taste (or any seasonings of your choice)
olive oil
NOTE: The amount of filling above is more than enough for 1 lb. of pizza dough.
1. In a bowl, mix together all of the
filling ingredients until well-combined. Set aside.
2. Roll out dough into a thin (about
1/8 inch thick) rectangle, then cut the sheet into quarters.
3. Brush a little oil on each dough
Step #4 of samsag preparation
4. Spread about 1/4 of the filling on ½ of the rolled section of dough,
leaving a ½-inch border. Fold unfilled side of dough over filling, pinching the
edges closed to seal. Brush top with some of the remaining olive oil.
5. Place each turnover on a lightly
oiled baking sheet. Bake in preheated 350°F oven for about 30 minutes, or until
golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
6. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Robyn’s Note: My grandmother used raw onions in her samsag filling. I took the liberty of sauteeing the onions, allowing any liquid to evaporate, and adding them to the cheeses once cooled.
Dough for Banerov Hatz and Samsag
Dough Ingredients:

1 pkg. dry yeast
5 lb. bag pre-sifted flour
½ c. oil
1 ½ tsp. salt
Water (about 5 cups)

Directions for dough preparation:

1. Dissolve yeast in ¼ cup lukewarm

2. In large bowl combine flour, oil,
salt, dissolved yeast, and enough water to make a smooth dough. (The amount of
water you use isn’t exact. There may be some trial-and error involved here.)

3. Knead dough for 5 minutes. Place in
a large bowl.

4. Lightly oil the top of the dough.
Cover, and let rise for 30 minutes to an hour.

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  1. Marash Girl December 23, 2012 at 7:15 am

    Sounds delicious! And I love blue cheese . . . but frankly, I've never tasted (or seen) blue cheese in anything Armenian!

    1. Robyn December 23, 2012 at 2:38 pm

      You're right about the absence of blue cheese/gorgonzola in Armenian recipes, but my Nanny loved the flavor, so into her recipes they went!

  2. Marash Girl December 23, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    What were you doing up writing at 2 in the morning?

  3. Ara December 23, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    Interesting. In Oorfa, semseg is a round pizza-like pastry that is topped with a mixture of ground meat, onions, pine nuts, and pomegranate molasses. It is fried on both sides. I know one of my cookbooks has the recipe, but the closest thing I have found on the web is at this site (roll over the menu until you get to the semseg):

    1. Robyn December 24, 2012 at 12:45 am

      Oh,that sounds delicious! Thanks, Ara, for sending the link; I'll check it out soon.

      Oh, that sounds delicious! Thanks, Ara, for sending the link; I'll check it out soon.


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