Phyllo, filo or fillo – however you spell it- is an amazing ingredient for making lighter pastry options. Look for it in the freezer at your local supermarket.
One sheet has under 50 calories and one gram of fat. But if you slather it with butter or oil, obviously the calorie and fat counts can soar. Brushing it with egg white, instead, is a simple way to make the dough flaky without using the added fat.
If you have never worked with phyllo before, don’t be intimidated. Just be sure to keep the sheets you’re not using covered with a damp tea towel.
From my book, The Enlightened Eater’s Whole Foods Guide (Viking Canada), here’s a savoury treat that’s traditionally deep-fried and laden with fat. Unbaked pastries freeze well and can be baked from the frozen state. Simply freeze them on a plastic wrap-lined baking sheet until frozen solid. Once they’re frozen, remove them from the freezer and store in a container, using wax or parchment paper between the triangles. Return to the freezer. Bake at a lower temperature- 350°F/180°C for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden and crispy.
Serve with a mango chutney.
Enlightened Sweet Potato and Green Pea Samosas
2 teaspoons (10 mL) vegetable oil
2 teaspoons (10 mL) ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) turmeric
1cup (250 mL) chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon (15 mL) grated ginger
1/8 teaspoon (1mL) chili pepper flakes
2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 pound/ 500 g), peeled and diced into 1/4-inch/1-cm pieces
1/2 cup (125 mL) water
1 1/2 cups (325 mL) green peas
1/4 cup (50 mL) chopped cilantro
Salt and freshly ground pepper
10 sheets phyllo dough
2 egg whites, beaten
To prepare filling:
Heat oil in the skillet over medium heat; add cumin and tumeric and heat stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 30 seconds, being careful not to burn them. Add onion, garlic, ginger and chili pepper and sauté until soft, about 5- 8 minutes. Add sweet potatoes, pinch of salt and water. Simmer over medium low heat for 15 minutes. Add green peas and stir; cook another 10 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat and stir in chopped coriander season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Set aside and let cool.
To prepare pastries:
Preheat oven to 375°F/190°C. Prepare a baking sheet by spraying with vegetable oil spray.
Place one sheet of phyllo dough on work surface. (Keep remainder covered with a damp towel to prevent drying.) Brush sheet with egg white. Top with second sheet and brush with egg white. Cut into lengthwise strips about 2 1/2 inches/ 6 -cm wide.
Place a scanty tablespoon of the vegetable mixture at one end of each phyllo strip. Fold to form a triangle. Continue folding and making a triangle shape. Place on prepared baking sheet, seam side down. Repeat with remaining dough and vegetable mixture. Brush the triangles well with the egg white. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, or until golden and crispy. Watch carefully so that they do not burn. Serve warm.
Can be reheated.
Makes 30 pastries
Per serving nutritional information:
Protein: 1 gram
Fat: 1 gram
Saturated fat: less than 1 gram
Carbohydrate: 7 grams
Fibre: 1 gram
Sodium: 60 milligrams
I will post some dessert recipes using phyllo in the coming weeks.
Have you worked with phyllo? Does it intimidate you? What are your favourite pastries?