By Cat, July 2008, updated Jan 2012 (photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)
- See also: 1. Pizza (About); 2. Spanakopita; 3. Mediterranean Menu; 4. Savory Pies & Tarts
- Includes: 1. Making Phyllo; 2. Tomato Phyllo Pie
Phyllo (or filo) is a Greek pastry in very very thin sheets; when you use them, you separate each sheet with a thin layer of melted butter. It is used to make delicious desserts such as baklava, or savory pies like spanakopita, illustrated right, or this tomato phyllo pie recipe.
I first learned how phyllo is made, when I made friends with a Greek family in Eugene Oregon, and they invited me to their Thanksgiving dinner and preparations. A few days before Thanksgiving, all the women and girls in the family, along with a few invited friends, gathered around the large round dining table covered with a muslin cloth. In the middle was the mound of phyllo dough. We reached out our hands and slid them under the dough and pulled slightly to stretch the dough. Then we moved one step to our left and repeated the pulling. We went round and round the table in this way until the dough was whisper thin and hanging a few inches below the edge of the table.
The dough was then cut into rectangles and stacked, about 15 – 20 sheets per stack. Some stacks were then rolled with parchment paper and frozen; others were used to make pumpkin phyllo pies for the holiday dinner (see Epicurious (1) for a sample recipe of Pumpkin Phyllo Pie)).
Note that strudel dough is made the same way.
Tomato Phyllo Pie
This is certainly not authentic Italian pizza, but it could be its first cousin, from Greece. This recipe is adapted from Relish Magazine (July 2008 (2)), an insert in the Daily InterLake newspaper.
Phyllo can be made by hand, but I do not recommend it, as you need a whole family of people (or your entire neighborhood) to help work the dough whisper thin. Instead, I recommend you buy frozen phyllo and thaw according to the instructions on the box.
Most phyllo sheets are 14 by 18 inches, and make a 9 by 13 inch crust. You can also make a round pie by laying each sheet on top of each other in a spiral around the pan. This recipe is for one pie, and serves 4 – 6 people.
Ingredients & Equipment
- ¼ cup butter, melted
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 8 phyllo sheets per pie
- 1 cup shredded or sliced mozzarella
- 3 medium ripe plum or Roma tomatoes, sliced
- 2 – 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 oz crumbled feta cheese
- ⅓ cup chopped fresh basil
- large baking sheet or jelly roll pan
- small saucepan or metal cup (for melting butter)
- pastry brush
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a large baking sheet (butter or olive oil is best).
- Melt butter and stir in garlic to make a thin paste.
- Place 1 phyllo sheet on pan; brush with butter mixture. Top with another sheet and butter. Repeat until all 8 sheets have been stacked and buttered.
- Sprinkle phyllo with mozzarella to within 2 ½ inches of the edges. Top with sliced tomatoes and minced garlic. Sprinkle with feta and basil.
- Roll phyllo edges to form a rim. Bake 20 – 25 minutes, until phyllo is crisp and cheese is melted.
- Epicurious Pumpkin Phyllo Pie recipe (epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/spiced-pumpkin-phyllo-pie-355230)
- Relish Magazine (July 2008): relish.com/recipes/tomato-phyllo-pie