A vegetarian meze that is slightly sweet, light and crispy; perfect two-bites!
We think that phyllo is the answer to most of life’s food problems. Although rolling out your own phyllo is a skill which is honed over years of practice (or much quicker if you have a great recipe like this one), store bought phyllo is a breeze! Seriously! Don’t listen to the stories about how it dries out too quickly or tears easily. In fact, once you get used to working with store bought phyllo, you’re going to find yourself searching for things to wrap up in it! True story!
Sitting around wondering what deliciousness could fill crisp and flaky phyllo triangles, we decided that mushrooms and chestnuts would be a perfect match. Winter weather is the perfect time to enjoy chestnuts, and they lend a festive and sweet note to this super easy meze (that’s appetizer in Greek). So go ahead, make a batch of these mushroom and chestnut phyllo triangles, put your feet up while they bake and dream about other amazing fillings you can use to make various perfect parcels of yum!
A key component in this dish is mushrooms, and with mushrooms comes the debate as to whether or not they should be washed with water, or simply wiped or brushed clean. Proponents of the latter technique argue that because mushrooms are so sponge-like, immersing them in water will get them so water-logged that you will never be able to get them truly dry again. The opposite side of the argument feels that the best way to clean the fungi is to actually use water. We’re with them, especially in a dish where the mushrooms will be cooked as they will be here, and all of the water can actually be cooked off. So, we quickly but efficiently rinse our mushrooms under some running water right before we are going to cut and then cook them.
The other star of this dish is the chestnuts. You can certainly roast or boil your own chestnuts to be used in this recipe, but we like to opt for the easy way out. We have found bags of ready to eat, peeled and roasted chestnuts at our local grocery store. Look around, maybe you’ll find something similar! These chestnuts are perfect for recipes such as this one.
Phyllo dough (sometimes referred to as filo dough) has a bad reputation as being a finicky ingredient which is difficult to work with. Many recipes warn against the fact that it dries out quickly, tears easily and should therefore be handled with extreme caution. We say, hogwash! Sure, phyllo can dry up when exposed to air for a long time…but it has to be a pretty long time, longer than it will take for you to fold your little apple pies, even for the first time. To help avoid the horror of dried phyllo however you can always cover, with a clean cloth, the phyllo you are not yet working with. Phyllo also has a tendency to tear relatively easily, so be careful, particularly if you have long fingernails, since you will be manipulating the phyllo dough quite a bit here.
Using store bought phyllo to encase all sorts of wonderfulness is nothing new. We use phyllo for spanakopitakia, mini apple pies, bougatsa, we use it to wrap up cheese fillings, meat and other savoury and sweet concoctions. Once you get used to working with store-bought phyllo you will find yourself coming up with all sorts of ways to use it.
You can find phyllo dough in pretty much any Middle Eastern or Mediterranean grocer, or any well stocked supermarket. It is often available both frozen and fresh. We prefer the fresh variety because we find the frozen phyllo sometimes gets a bit soggy after it has thawed. If the frozen phyllo is all you can find however, go for it!
Mia Kouppa:Mushroom and chestnut phyllo triangles
- 1 container white button mushrooms
- 1/2 yellow onion
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 1/4 cup chopped chestnuts, already roasted or steamed
- 1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 pound phyllo
- 1/4 cup olive oil, for brushing phyllo
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Finely dice the mushrooms, including both the caps and the stems. Dice the 1/2 onion. Combine the mushrooms, onion and olive oil in a skillet and cook over medium heat for approximately 5-7 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent and the mushrooms have given off their liquid.
- Add the chopped up chestnuts, parsley and salt and pepper to the pan and cook, stirring constantly, for an additional 3 – 5 minutes.
- Place the contents of the frying pan in a bowl and allow to cool.
- Beat the egg in a small bowl and once the mixture has cooled, add the egg to the mushrooms and chestnut mix. Stir well to combine.
- Prepare your phyllo dough by cutting 3 inch strips of phyllo dough. Once you are ready to start making the triangles, take a double layer of phyllo and lay it in front of you. Brush with some olive oil (you don’t want to soak it through, and it does not need to be brushed with olive oil all over).
- Place approximately 1 teaspoon of filling at the bottom of the phyllo strip. You are now ready to start making your triangles. Pay attention! 🙂
- Take the bottom, left hand corner of your phyllo strip and fold it over the filling, bringing it to the right hand edge, just above where your filling ends. Then, take what is now the bottom right hand corner, and fold it over so that it reaches the left hand edge. Now move again to the left hand corner, and bring that to the right hand edge. Keep repeating. You will see that after a few movements, your triangle will start to take shape. Refer to the pictures above to help visualize what we are trying to describe. Repeat process to make more triangles.
- Place your triangles on a parchment or non-stick mat lined baking sheet. Brush the tops of your triangles with a little more olive oil. Bake in the middle rack of your oven for 15 – 20 minutes, until golden brown on top and bottom. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a baking rack.
- These mushroom and chestnut mezedes (appetizers) are best when served warm. Enjoy!