As I predicted, one of my many part-time jobs during this transition into our new life is, dah dah dum…waitressing. Although I am also teaching dance and cooking, there isn’t quite enough of that yet to pay the bills, so off to a cafe I went. Luckily, it’s just like riding a bike — although I have to say that the 32 year-old-me gets a little more exhausted at the end of a 6 or 8 hour waitressing shift than the 22 year-old-me did, a true age-indicator. Sigh.
With less energy (and time) for cooking Shabbat dinner last Friday, I racked my hungry brain for something I could make ahead that would sustain us through the weekend and would not leave me feeling even more my age. I thought of spanikopita (too many steps), then a savory tart (we just had quiche), then a sort of fusion of the two. I think this phyllo pie is rather clever, as it is simple to prepare yet looks sophisticated and tastes delicious.
Ari’s Phyllo Vegetable Pie
If you ever want to impress your family, friends or dinner guests, phyllo is the way to go. For most people phyllo has an air of sophistication and mystique, assumed to be much more complicated to cook with than it actually is. The only special tool you need if you are going to work with phyllo is a pastry brush (even a clean paint brush is fine), which you need for brushing the phyllo layers with olive oil or melted butter. Also, it is important to keep phyllo covered with a clean, damp kitchen towel while you work, because it dries out and becomes brittle very quickly.
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 large zucchini, magda or summer squash, cubed
10-12 crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, stems removed, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
pinch of cayenne
1/2 tsp cumin
salt and pepper
1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
1 package of phyllo dough, thawed
Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a wide saute pan over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and saute until soft, 5 minutes. Add the carrot and saute a few minutes more (I covered the pan to help it cook more quickly). When the carrot has softened add the cubed squash and mushrooms. Cover the pan and cook for 7 minutes until the mushrooms have released their juices. Add the bell pepper and spices and saute uncovered for a few minutes more. Lastly add the parsley and mix into the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Get a 9 x 13 inch baking pan out and brush it with olive oil. Lay the phyllo next to your pan and cover it with a damp towel. Lay a piece of phyllo over each long side of the pan, letting it hang over the outside edges by several inches. Brush the phyllo with olive oil. Repeat this with the short edges and again with the long. You should have 4 or 5 layers of phyllo as your bottom “crust,” all brushed with oil. Spread the vegetable mixture into the pan and layer 3-4 pieces of phyllo over the mixture, brushing each with oil. Then fold the overhanging pieces over the whole thing, encasing the veggies. Brush the top with olive oil and bake the pie at 350°F/175°C until golden brown, ~40 minutes.