It was the ancient Assyrians who introduced paper-thin filo pastry to the culinary world. And for those of us who appreciate a quick pie it’s a godsend. The Greeks are famous for their spinach and feta pie — Spanakopita. I’m famous (sort of!) for my leftover savoury mince pies — meat and a little cheese wrapped in filo and baked for a quick lunch.
Filo pastry is prepared purely from flour, water and a smidgen of oil so it’s very suitable for those trying to lower their fat intake. It does take on a gorgeous golden hue when brushed with oil, melted butter or table spread but if you’re really watching your waistline then a little spray oil can be used between the layers.
Once exposed to the air, filo sheets dry out quickly and become brittle. To prevent this, cover the sheets with a lightly-dampened tea towel during preparation.
Filo is known as ‘fillo, phyllo, phylo or even fillou’ in different countries. Originally it was hand-stretched but today machines do the hard work. The sheets are cut to size, stacked, rolled in plastic and packaged. The number, thickness and size of the filo sheets provided by various manufacturers differ but generally there are about 25-30 sheets in each packet.
It may be a tad tricky using filo for the first time but once you have mastered the art you’ll find creating with filo is fun.
Serve hot or at room temperature with lots of chutney. Get the recipe
The filling can be prepared a day ahead. Get the recipe
Serve as nibbles with coffee with a plain yoghurt dip or as a garnish for desserts. Get the recipe