Every home cook has their selection of easy, foolproof recipes. Maybe it's a bag of pasta for those nights you really don't feel like cooking (mmm macaroni cheeseless!), or some frozen mock meat something-or-other you can throw in the oven and dish up with some new potatoes. One of my thrown-together meal essentials is filo pastry, which is readily available in UK supermarkets and is inexpensive (filo dough is something I've yet to attempt making on my own). It's an easy pastry to work with, and makes for a great way to use up vegetables and other bits, foods with which you're not sure what to do (I think the word I'm getting at here is "experiment").
I've included a diagram of how to cut the filo pastry, but don't get too bent out of shape on perfection here. So long as you cover some filo with fat and bake it, you'll end up with something edible!
You can fill these tartlets with all sorts of goodies, and they can be served either as Hors d'œuvres or as part of a main. I love them with some marrowfat peas and new potatoes!
Spinach and Courgette Filo Pastry Cups
- Preheat oven to about 190 degrees C and lightly grease some cupcake tins.
- In a large saucepan, fry the onion and garlic in the 1 tsp oil. After a few minutes add a handful of spinach and mix to coat in the oil. Allow it to cook down and then add another handful. Continue until all of the spinach is cooked down, and they strain away any major liquid quantities. In a medium bowl mix the spinach with all remaining ingredients except the the 2 tbsp oil.
- Moving on to the ingredients for the courgette filling, Add the oil o a pan and fry the courgette with the garlic for a few minutes until just soft. Turn the heat off and add salt and basil.
- To prepare the pastry, first cut the 6 sheets in half across the shortest length. Stack one on top of the other and make two cuts across the longest length, dissecting the pile into thirds. Stack these and make a cut down the middle and you'll end up with loads of rectangular pieces of pastry.
- Heat the remaining oil or margarine (note that you may need more) so it thins out. Brush a filo square lightly and place another directly on top. Brush again. Place another piece at a 90 degree angle on top. Brush with oil and place another one top. Layer two final pieces at a 45 degree angle, oil on each one.
- Gentle press the filo piles into the cupcake tin holes, ensuring you get the dough into the corners as much as possible.
- Distribute the spinach filling evenly among half of the tartlets, adding some breadcrumbs and/or non-dairy cheese on top if desired. For the zucchini cups, simply alternate layers of a few slices of zucchini/courgette and a slices of tomato in the remaining pastry cups.
- Bake for between 12-15 minutes, or until the pastry is lightly browned. For a crispier bottom, bake the pastry first before adding the filling.
- Serve with a nice salad or roast potatoes.
Originally published August 30, 2006. Recipe updated to be vegan.