Although area markets are filling up with apples, squash and other fall produce, we’re making the most of the last few summer vegetables and fresh herbs our garden is still producing.
This recipe, inspired by one from Vegetables Please (a cookbook I just added to my collection), does just that. In addition to a medley of vegetables, the pie has Kalamata olives and feta cheese for a real punch of flavor. It is then topped with layers of paper-thin phyllo (or fillo) dough. When baked, phyllo becomes incredibly light and crispy.
Phyllo is sold frozen and can be found near the frozen dessert section. There are generally two rolls per package; keep one frozen for future use and thaw the other in the refrigerator. As with any type of pastry, keeping it cold will make it easier to work with.
Unroll the dough, remove one sheet at a time and place the rest under a lightly damp kitchen towel or under plastic wrap to keep it from drying out. Then, carefully and lightly brush each sheet with melted butter or olive oil with a pastry brush. (Butter produces the crispiest result.) If handled properly, leftover dough may be refrozen in a zipper-top freezer bag.
Fortunately, good peppers, eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash are available to make this dish year round. Whole canned tomatoes would work to replace the fresh tomatoes in this dish when good tomatoes are not available. When you’re ready for something heavier this fall and winter such as chicken or beef pot pie, phyllo dough makes a wonderful topping for those too.
Late Summer Vegetable Phyllo Pie
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ small onion, chopped (about ½ cup)
½ small red bell pepper, chopped (about ½ cup)
½ small green bell pepper, chopped (about ½ cup)
1 baby eggplant, cut into ½-inch cubes
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
1 small yellow squash, halved lengthwise and sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup pitted and halved Kalamata olives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
salt, to taste
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
8 sheets phyllo (or fillo) dough
Heat oil in a skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook 4 to 5 minutes or until beginning to soften. Add the red and green bell pepper and cook 3 to 4 minutes. Add the eggplant and tomatoes and cook 3 to 4 minutes. Add zucchini, yellow squash and garlic, cover slightly and cook until vegetables are tender. Stir in olives, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes and salt to taste. Cool to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush two small baking dishes with some of the melted butter.
Place a sheet of phyllo dough on a flat surface. Brush lightly with melted butter and place onto the baking dish, allowing the dough to hang over the edges. Repeat with two more sheets, placing each sheet at a right angle to the last sheet. Repeat process for the other baking dish.
Fill each baking dish with equal amounts of the vegetable filling. Sprinkle with even amounts of feta cheese. Fold phyllo over the top of the pie.
Brush the remaining two sheets of dough with butter and fold each one to fit over the top of each dish. Brush the tops with any remaining butter.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until heated through and the pastry is crisp and golden.
–Inspired by and Adapted from Vegetables Please by Carolyn Humphries