I always use my visits home as an opportunity to cook up treats that I wouldn’t normally cook in London. My parents have a much larger stock of more imaginative ingredients that I love to use whenever I’m back there, so this weekend was no exception.
On my latest trip home I was hoping to use the left over filo pastry from my Banana Parcels to make a batch of baklava, as I know it’s a firm favourite of my dads and is something I’ve yet to try out. Unfortunately, I’d been beaten by Waitrose and found an unopened box of traditional baklava when I checked the kitchen treat tin – so it was time to turn to the store cupboard and use my imagination to cook up something else that we could have for dinner.
The sun dried tomatoes and pistachios make this just salty enough without needed to add any salt to it, and the crunchy texture that you get from the nuts compliments the flaky pastry and smooth tomato paste perfectly. This went down a treat with the family, and I will be trying out some variations of it when it comes to summer and picnic season for sure!
1 Pack Filo Pastry Sheets (you need 11 sheets)
200g Savoury Nuts (Cashews, Pistachios, Pine Nuts were my choice)
1 Jar Sun dried tomatoes (about 300g)
½ Jar Roasted Peppers (about 150g)
50g Feta Cheese
Approx. 50g Butter, melted for brushing
– Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F and have a 10″ x 10″ square baking dish at hand
Add the nuts to a food processor and blitz for a few seconds until they have broken up but are still quite chunky (you want to have texture and not just powdered nuts in your baklava). Transfer the crushed nuts to a separate large bowl and leave to one side.
Add the sun dried tomatoes and peppers to the food processor and again blitz – this time for around 20 seconds – until you have a paste like texture that can be spread easily.
Transfer the paste to the bowl with the nuts in and mix together until all the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.
Melt the butter in the microwave and put to one side.
Brush the dish with the melted butter and lay the first layer on pastry into the dish. Brush this pastry sheet with butter and lay your second filo pastry sheet on top of this. Repeat the process until you have 5 layers of filo pastry in the dish, all brushed with butter.
Add half your tomato/nut paste on top of the pastry and smooth it out until you have an even layer. Crumble half the feta cheese on top of the filling (as in the picture below).
Add a single layer of filo pastry on top of the first layer of the filling and give it a brush with melted butter before repeating the filling process with the remaining tomato & nut paste and feta cheese.
Layer up the last 5 sheets of filo the same way as before, brushing each sheet with melted butter before adding the next layer.
Brush a final bit of butter on to the top layer of baklava and trim any excess pastry from around the dish.
Cut the baklava into squares to serve using a sharp knife (the pastry will be too flaky to do this easily once it has been baked).
Place in the centre of the oven and bake for 30 minutes, until the pastry is golden and crispy. Serve immediately or leave to cool before transferring to the fridge, where it will keep for up to 5 days, the perfect leftover lunchtime snack!