Spiced Butternut Squash Phylas

Photo by Patricia Niven
Author Notes

Phyllo dough is a largely flavorless dough (consisting of just flour and salt), that when brushed with fat, crisps up in a big way. It's a perfect, crispy blank canvas for any fillings you choose—whether sweet or savory (or both!). Here, a spiced squash, onion, and feta mash is bound between ethereally-crisp layers of phyllo. You can coil the dough, or, as Packer and Srulovich demonstrate in an episode of Dear Test Kitchen, "Turkish tuck" the filling into crisp triangles. —Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer

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Spiced Butternut Squash Phylas
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 45 minutes
  • Makes about 20
  • 1 packet of filo pastry
  • 100 grams (3 1/2 ounces) melted butter
  • For the filling
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 5-cm/2-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 small whole dried chile, or a pinch of chilli flakes
  • 2 long shallots or 1 small red onion, peeled and chopped (about 100g/ 3 1/2 ounces)
  • 1 butternut squash about 600-700g/1 pound 5-9 ounces, peeled and grated yielding about 500 grams/1 pound 2 ounces
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 6 sage leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 60 grams (2 1/2 ounces) feta, crumbled
In This Recipe
  1. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan on a medium heat. Add the cinnamon stick and whole chilli or chilli flakes, followed by the chopped shallots or onion and fry for about 1 minute before adding the grated butternut squash and salt. Stir around and cook until the butternut softens. This will take about 10 minutes.
  2. Stir in the ground cumin and coriander, then fry for 30 seconds before removing the pan from the heat. Add the chopped sage and honey, and mix well. Allow to cool before removing the cinnamon stick and whole dried chilli (if using), and stirring in the crumbled feta.
  3. Heat your oven to 220°C/200°C fan/425°F/gas mark 7 and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  4. Open the filo packet on the work surface and lay it so that the pastry is folded in half with the narrow end of the rectangle closest to you. Pull out two sheets at a time and brush the top sheet with melted butter. Spoon pumpkin filling in a thin line along the closest edge of the filo and roll up loosely to form a ‘snake’. Cut away the unused pastry just above the ‘snake’. Roll the ‘snake’ into a ‘snail’, tucking the end underneath, and place on the baking tray. Continue filling and rolling the remaining part of the filo until it is used up, then pull out a new pair of sheets and start again.
  5. Repeat again and again until all the filling is used up. Brush the remaining butter on the tops of the phylas. You can now bake them for 12–14 minutes, or until golden all over. Alternatively, you can keep the ‘snails’ in the fridge for up to 24 hours before baking.

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