Baked Phyllo Tart. Every now and then along comes a recipe that’s fun to make, fun to serve, and a joy to eat. It always brings a smile, and becomes the reason to invite people over for an impromptu party. Baked Phyllo Tart is one.
Use cooked and raw ingredients for the filling that do not release much juice. With brief baking time, most ingredients need to be pre-cooked to the al dente or firm stage such as cruciferous or root vegetables. With the zero waste approach, be a wise cook and use-up those tasty leftovers or odds-and-ends from your vegetable bin.
Phyllo or fillo dough is made often without animal products so it is naturally vegan. Commercially-prepared dough is sold in sheets usually cut into 14-inches x 18-inches (36-cm x 46-cm), with a thin classic thickness of #4, and up to thicker country-style #10. Because the filling needs time to heat up in the oven even though it is cooked prior to assembling, I recommend using the thin #4 thickness and brush with oil, not an oil-and-butter blend which tends to brown faster than all oil.
Choose an oven-proof skillet with thick heavy bottom for even baking such as a cast iron skillet. For a 10-inch (25-cm) diameter x 2-inches (5-cm) deep cast iron pan bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Wrap a kitchen towel around the handle then bring your baked phyllo tart to the table. Serve directly from the pan with its enticing aroma and colorful rustic presentation.
4 to 6 servings as an appetizer; 2 to 3 servings as a main dish. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes.
3 tablespoons (44 ml) extra-virgin olive oil infused with 1 medium garlic clove
2 teaspoons (10 ml) extra-virgin olive oil for brushing pan’s interior
4 sheets classic phyllo (fillo) dough (#4 thinness = 3.2 ounces or 91 g)
Freshly grated lemon zest
Freshly ground black pepper
Filling: 6 1/2 cups or 1.5 liters volume is a guideline for 10-inch (25-cm) pan. Adjust quantities as pleases you.
12 ounces (340 g) raw cauliflower florets, steam or boil (3 cups or 710 ml cooked volume)
4 ounces (113 g) yellow potatoes, with/out skin, steam or boil (2/3 cup or 158 ml volume cubed)
1 tablespoon (15 ml) harissa, optional
6 ounces (170 g) boiled chickpeas (1 cup or 237 ml volume)
Cumin seeds to taste
1 tablespoon (15 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
3 ounces (85 g) garden peas, fresh blanched or thawed frozen (2/3 cup or 158 ml volume)
3 ounces (85 g) raw sweet red bell pepper (2/3 cup or 158 ml volume, cut into strips)
1 ounce (28 g) Sopressata, vegan pepperoni, or other semi-hard salame (3 tablespoons or 44 ml volume shaved)
1 scallion or young onion (1/3 cup or 79 ml volume sliced)
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 ounce (28 g) Feta cheese or vegan cheese (1/4 cup or 118 ml volume crumbled)
Freshly ground black pepper
Preparation: Garlic-Infused Oil: Pour 3 tablespoons (44 ml) olive oil into a small container. Peel and quarter the garlic clove, immerse in the olive oil, cover and refrigerate overnight to infuse the oil. Filling: Either steam, boil, or blanch vegetables and legumes to the firm al dente stage. Drain well. Cool. They continue cooking during baking.
1. Dough – 4 sheets: Lightly brush the pan’s interior with 2 teaspoons (10 ml) olive oil.
Place 1 phyllo sheet inside the pan, gently pressing the dough against the side, corners, and bottom of the pan. Brush the dough with the infused oil. Place another sheet on top, lightly brush with infused oil. Grate lemon zest and grind black pepper over the bottom.
Repeat with a third sheet. Repeat with a fourth sheet.
Leave 2-inches (5-cm) of dough overlapping the pan’s edge then trim off excess dough with a scissors, reserve excess for a different use.
2. Filling: Evenly distribute the cooked cauliflower florets across the bottom. Toss the cooked potato cubes with the harissa if using, then tuck into open spaces among the cauliflower. Toss the boiled chickpeas with cumin seeds to taste and 1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil. Evenly spread out the chickpeas, peas, pepper, salame, and scallion over the other ingredients. Lightly season to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle a few drops of the garlic-infused oil over the filling.
Dough hanging over pan’s rim: Fold the dough over the filling as if finishing a pie crust. Weave the dough back-and-forth stacking it up like ribbons. (If the dough hangs over the pan’s rim, after baking, it breaks off when cutting the cooked tart.)
3. Preheated oven 375 F/190 C/Gas Mark 5. Place the pan in the center of the oven, uncovered.
Bake for 20 minutes, then turn it around for more even baking.
Bake for another 15 to 20 minutes. When finished you should hear mild sizzling, and the phyllo dough around the rim should be a beautiful golden brown. Remove from the oven.
Sprinkle the crumbled cheese over the hot filling so it softens. The tart retains its heat for several minutes, and tastes delicious served hot, warm, or room temperature.