What can you make with Phyllo pastry dough?
- Phyl Mar 10, 2003 04:05 PM
I just bought a packet of Phyllo pastry dough and can't think of anything to make with it. I prefer a savoury dish-type meal perhaps but am open to all suggestions, particularly easy and simple ones.
Well, working with phyllo is tricky, so I don't think any recipe using it can be called "easy and simple". Spanakopita (a Greek dish of spinach layered with phyllo) is a relatively easy savory dish. Almost any turnover/pasty filling can be wrapped in phyllo.
Bisteeya (a classic Morrocan dish of spiced poultry, eggs, nuts, cinnamon and sugar) is one of my favorite phyllo dishes.
re: Ruth Lafler
I love Spanikopita!
You can put many savory mixtures into the dough and fold it over and seal it closed like a turnover. Just make sure there is very little liquid in the mix.
Try sauteed mushroom with rib roast spices.
ground lamb, sliced green olives with/and pimentos, a little cream cheese and a hint of Cavender's Greek Spice (Cavender's is also a good rib roast spice).
Or place a bit of Brie and and apiece of dried apricot with a hint of garlic powder sprinkled in it and seal it closed.
Bake about 10 minutes until brown (maybe more, maybe less, depending on your oven)
I've used it mostly for party type food. You can mix chopped sauteed mushrooms, herbs and soft goat cheese and make a strudel type roll that you bake and slice. I've also sprinkled sheets with Indian spices and ground nuts, layered them, cut them in strips and used the strips to wrap jumbo shrimp that you bake.
1) Have phyllo thawed out before you open box. 2) Have melted and cooled butter handy, and a brush. 3) Have a big piece of plastic wrap handy so you can keep phyllo you're not working with absolutely out of the air as it hardens almost instantly when the air hits it. 4) If you remember those three things you can do almost anything you like with phyllo. Work with half a dozen sheets at once. Have some sisscors handy. Don't worry if phyllo tears, just glue it back together with a drop or two of water as it is very forgiving. Quickly brush each sheet with melted butter. Then be creative. You can wrap phyllo around little blobs of a meat or vegetable mixture. You can cut it (six thicknesses) into squares, bake them on a cookie sheet, and use them as crust or topping on anything sweet or savory. Or layer the squares with something. If you leave your six thicknesses in one big sheet (buttered in between) you can sprinkle it with bread crumbs, lay sweetened fruit on it, roll it up, tuck in the corners, seal the seams with water, and make a strudel. Or you can do a holy exercise and make the best baklava---you will never buy baklava again. Put three or four thickness of buttered phyllo in a greased 8- or 9-inch square pan. Put in a layer of chopped nuts, a couple more thicknesses of phyllo, more nuts, and so on to the top, ending with phyllo. Tuck in the edges and brush everything with butter. Cut into squares while it's still raw. Bake at 350* for half an hour or until golden. Meanwhile make a syrup of 1 cup honey, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water, 1 slice each lemon and orange, 4-5 cloves, and 1 tsp. cinnamon---simmer this 15 minutes. Right after the baklava comes out of the oven pour all the syrup over it at once. If you just master the trick of handling phyllo you will love using it as it's versatile, reliable, and elegant.
I have a recipe for a zucchini chickpea phyllo pie that involves lining a springform pan with several layers of phyllo brushed with butter, filling it with a precooked filling with rice, zucchini and chickpeas, covering the top with a few more layers of phyllo and baking at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Delicious!
Spinach & Cheese Turnovers:
Take some shredded gruyere cheese and mix with cooked, drained, chopped spinach, an egg yolk to bind, and salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. (I am sorry I make this from my head and never measure.) Put mixture in phyllo layers and fold like a turnover. Brush wth melted butter and top with sesame seeds. Bake at 375 degrees till golden and crispy. Good appetizer.
Spanikopita is always my first thought when it comes to phyllo (and I have to say, some of the best ones I've had have been homemade, mostly by me or by my spanikopita guru, who's known for his), but there are so many possibilities.
No one has mentioned strudel, which phyllo is great for, either savory or sweet. Epicurious.com has a lot of interesting savory strudel recipes.
It might be a bit early in the year, depending where you are, but I have a terrific recipe for a ratatouille tart with a "crust" of phyllo that has a filling made of a layer of cooked eggplant/bell pepper/tomato mixture, one of grated fontina, and is topped with concentric circles of sliced zucchini and plum tomato. It's both beautiful and delicious. I actually have a standard menu built around it that always gets rave reviews. Let me know if you want me to post the recipe.
Another good thing to know is that dishes made with phyllo don't have to be super-rich with a ton of butter for the layering to come out well (though the buttery crisp leaves are a wonderful thing); you can use olive oil for brushing or even a spritz of olive oil, too.
Finally, phyllo turnovers freeze very well (unbaked) and can be baked from a frozen state, so if you have freezer space, you could make up a bunch with a few different fillings and have them on hand.
re: Caitlin McGrath
Phyllo is pretty amazing stuff. It looks delicate, but it's actually very forgiving provided you keep it damp and work quickly. Lots of recipes say to butter or oil each individual sheet thoroughly, but I've successfully followed recipes that say to lay two (or even three) sheets down at a time and then use butter or oil on the top one before repeating. And if one sheet tears, just use more sheets and it's fine.
As Caitlin said, phyllo dishes freeze well (formed but uncooked), and they also reheat well while retaining most of their crispness (though the bottom crust will be less flaky if the filling is at all damp).
re: Caitlin McGrath
One nice thing about this recipe is that it's good warm or at room temperature, so you can make it a few hours ahead. The things I serve with it are good at room temperature, too. The recipe has a few steps, but is not difficult. This is a paraphrase and slight adaptation of a recipe fom Bon Appetit that is not on the Epicurious site.
10 tablespoons (about) olive oil
3/4 pound eggplant, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 tablespoons tomato paste
10 sheets phyllo
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1 1/2 cups grated fontina, provolone or mozzarella (or a combination)
3/4 pounds plum tomatoes, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
3/4 pounds medium zucchini, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
Heat 4 T. olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute eggplant, onion, bell pepper, garlic and thyme until beginning to soften, 10 minutes or so, and season generously with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until eggplant is soft, stirring a few times, about 10 minutes. Uncover, add tomato paste and stir, and cook a few minutes, until liquid evaporates. Put the mixture in a strainer set over a bowl and let cool completely, and discard the liquid that drains out. (You can make this a day ahead and refrigerate, just make sure to drain off any extra liquid.)
Preheat oven to 350F. Brush a 9-inch removable-bottom tart pan or springform pan with olive oil. Stack phyllo sheets and trim to an 11-inch square or circle*, then cover with plastic wrap and a damp dish towel. Press one sheet of phyllo into pan, letting excess extend beyond rim (unless the pan sides are higher, as with a springform pan). Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon parmesan. Press another sheet of trimmed phyllo into pan, brush with oil, and sprinkle with parmesan, and repeat with the remaining phyllo sheets. (If using squares, stagger them so the corners form a ring of points around the top of the pan.) Spoon the eggplant mixture evenly into the phyllo shell and sprinkle the grated fontina over the top. Overlap alternating tomato and zucchini slices in concentric circles on top of the cheese layer. Brush with oil, season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan. Bake 1 hour, or until phyllo is golden brown and zucchini is crisp-tender. Allow to cool at least half an hour before serving, or serve at room temperature. Remove pan sides to serve.
*Cutting circles is more trouble, but looks better if you're using a scallop-sided tart pan. You can also use circles for a straight-sided pan, but I like the way squares look, with a ring of crisp phyllo points rising above the filling.
The accompaniments I chose the first time I made this recipe work so well that I pretty much always use them. I serve quartered small red potatoes, roasted with fresh rosemary, olive oil and plenty of salt and pepper, and this asparagus salad:
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon chopped fresh marjoram or 1 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 pounds asparagus, ends trimmed, cut on diagonal into 2-inch pieces
1 small red bell pepper, diced
1/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted
In a small saucepan over medium heat, boil the vinegar until it's reduced by half, and pour into a bowl large enough to hold all the salad ingredients. Whisk in the mustard, garlic and marjoram, then the olive oil, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook the asparagus in boiling water until tender-crisp (3-4 minutes, depending on how thick the spears are), drain, and rinse under cold water. Drain very well and add to the dressing in the bowl. Add the bell pepper and pecans and toss until dressing coats everything evenly.
You'll find lots of great recipes at the link below. Make sure to go to the recipe archive area of the site (http://www.athens.com/recipes/archive...) and to the area that says "You'll find more great fillo dough recipes here!")
Sometimes you get a bad box of phyllo, usually caused by thawing and refreezing when ice crystals form and melt and glob the layers together. Can be very frustrating and wasteful but here's a recipe that actually uses broken pieces. This version calls for puff pastry but you can use broken phyllo sheets sauteed in butter. It is essentially bread pudding. There is a cute story that goes with it if anyone is interested...
Actually, there are two stories! One has it that the sultan is out hunting and decides that he is very hungry so he and his party ride in to the nearest village requesting food. Everyone flies into a tizzy and gets Ali's mother, the best cook in the village. She doesn't have much to work with but she whips together this simple pudding. Evidently the sultan likes it so much he makes the village a regular stop and Umm Ali is born! The other story says that it is a modern Eqyptian dish created by a nurse maid named O'Malley! Either way, it's pretty good comfort food!