I know that filo pastry can be a pain to work with. But the benefits make it worthwhile. And, if you do it often enough, you’ll become filo-confident. Maybe even filo-competent!
A filo dish, like this tart, presents with an understated elegance. You can see and smell it right now. Filo does have a certain Spartan taste to the mouth, or so I have always found. It makes for a wonderful platform to feature the warm richness of Mediterranean vegetables.
Feel free to experiment away with this dish. You can add some small tomatoes, slices of onion. Goat cheese comes in a thousand flavors. But you can always swap in a blue here for a more striking attack on your palate.
For your Thanksgiving feast, this is a powerful way to start the meal. Yeah, you’re going to have stuffing later on. I know. It’s Thanksgiving. Double down.
Filo Tart with Mediterranean Vegetables and Goat’s Cheese
Yield: serves 4
- 1 large onion (ideally red)
- 1 courgette/squash (about 6 ounces), trimmed
- 1 small, firm aubergine, trimmed
- 1 small green pepper, halved, cored and deseeded
- 1 small red pepper, halved, cored and deseeded
- 150ml light olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, cut into slivers
- 1 thyme sprig, leaves picked
- 2 small fresh goat’s cheese, each cut into 4 or 6 pieces
- 4 sheets of filo pastry
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Cut the onion into 8 wedges. Cut the courgette into 1-inch slices and the aubergine into pieces about ½ by 1-inch. Cut both peppers into roughly 1 inch pieces.
Heat 100ml of the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the aubergine and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, then add the onion and peppers and cook for 10 minutes, stirring every 2-3 minutes. Add the courgette and garlic and cook for a further 10 minutes, stirring. Sprinkle in the thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Finally, add the pieces of goat’s cheese, increase the heat and cook for another 2 minutes until the vegetables are lightly colored and about three-quarters cooked. Transfer to a dish, cover with cling film and pierce it in several places with the tip of knife. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush a loose-based 7-inch square tin, about 1 ½ inches deep, with some of the remaining olive oil.
Lightly brush a sheet of filo with oil and gently press it into the oiled tin. Repeat with the remaining 3 sheets of filo. Using scissors, trim off any excess pastry overhanging the edges. Fill the filo pastry case with the vegetable and cheese mixture and fold the edges of the filo inwards to form a rim. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
Slide the tin onto a wire rack and leave the tart to rest for a few minutes before removing from the tin. Serve hot, cut into squares.
Source: Cheese, the Essential Guide by Michel Roux [Quadrille, 2017]