We came back from Greece with a new fondness for Phyllo
Andrew and I were blown over by our time in Greece. We loved every minute of our ten-day voyage aboard Silversea’s magnificent Silver Moon. We were invited to sail on Silver Moon to participate in Silversea’s incomparable S.A.L.T. Culinary Arts Program. Sea. And. Land. Taste. is just that. Opportunities to indulge in the cuisine of every single port we visited at S.A.L.T. Kitchen, to sample regional wines and cocktails at S.A.L.T Bar, and ashore, to join S.A.L.T. Adventures like the one I wrote about (see link below). And there was the opportunity for hands-on cooking in S.A.L.T. Lab. That’s where Andrew had his encounter with Phyllo and what a success it was!
At S.A.L.T. Lab, genius teachers like Silversea Chef Dave Bisland teach just 12 passengers at each class.
Chef Bisland is a born teacher. Before coming aboard Silversea, he was an instructor at Le Cordon Bleu Cooking School in London. That’s likely how, in the course of just one hour, his class successfully made both Spanakopita—Greece’s famous Spinach and Feta Pie—and Saragli, a close cousin of sweet Baklava. We must admit, S.A.L.T. Lab was set up to make things simple. All the mise-en-place was measured out and in place. This was right down to having the spinach, onions, and dill already prepped for the Spanakopita filling. And the Saragli’s filling of walnuts, pistachios, almonds, cinnamon, and cloves was neatly assembled to move the class along. The class produced both dishes. And they tasted every bit as good as they looked.
Spanakopita and Saragli are two of Greece’s most iconic dishes and they both owe their existence to Phyllo.
Spanakopita is the universal snack of modern Greece. They’re eaten on the run, on the way to work, or as a mid-morning snack to tide you over before the late lunch Greeks prefer. You can find regional versions with mixed vegetables and any number of herbs. But the spinach and feta in our recipe are the most ubiquitous. Their one essential ingredient, Phyllo, originated in the Ottoman Empire from a pastry called Yufka. Ottoman chefs reworked the Yufka recipe shaping the dough into thinner and thinner layers. Legend says the first recipe to use Phyllo was to make Baklava not Spanakopita. Baklava wins simply because along with fruit, honey and nuts are said to be the world’s first sweets. Saragli differs from Baklava only in its shape. Rolled, instead of layered, its crispy sheets of buttery phyllo are soaked in spiced syrup with crunchy nuts in between. The recipes for both follow.
Andrew Shows Off His Proficiency in Phyllo in Front of a Genuine Expert.
As shown in our key visual, Andrew volunteered to roll out a sheet of Phyllo in front of the scion of one of Greece’s great Food families. Click this link to read all about our S.A.L.T. Adventure in Paros. Or Paradise as the case may be. https://discover.silversea.com/to-the-curious/salt-kitchen/farm-table-greek-island-paros/
The universal snack of Greece is packed with flavor and its crispy-crunchy Phyllo elevates it to art.
- 1 pkg. Phyllo Pastry
- Melted Butter or Olive Oil to brush on the Phyllo
- 250 g. (1.5 cups) Washed and Cooked Spinach
- 2 green onions (scallions) including stems, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh dill
- 120 g. (1/2 cup) Feta Cheese crumbled
- 1 egg, beaten
- Salt and Black Pepper
- 1 tbsp. Olive Oil
- Step 1 Combine the well-drained spinach with the onions, dill, feta, beaten egg, and seasoning. Mix well.
- Step 2 Preheat Over to 180 C or 350 F
- Step 3 Unwrap the Phyllo pastry on a flat surface and cover with a damp tea towel.
- Step 4 Lightly oil a 12-inch square baking sheet
- Step 5 Place a sheet of Phyllo on your worktop with the long side closest to you and brush with butter. For in half by lifting the right across to the left, drizzle with more butter and told again right to left. You should have a narrow piece of folded phyllo at this stage.
- Step 6 Place a tablespoon of filling at the bottom of the strip and fold over the corner to create a triangle, repeat these diagonal folds until you reach the top of the pastry sheet. Lay the folded triangle on the buttered tray.
- Step 7 Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Eat either hot or cold.
Deliciously sweet, this traditional Greek dessert is a close cousin of Baklava. It's a crispy sheet of buttery Phyllo are soaked in spiced syrup with crunchy nuts in between.
- For the Syrup
- 500 g or 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 300 g or 1 1/4 cups water
- 1 stick of cinnamon
- 50 g or 3 tbsp corn syrup
- 6 cloves
- 1 lemon peel
- 15 ml or 1 tbsp. lemon juice
- For the Saragli
- 400 g or 1 3/4 cups butter
- 100 g or 1 cup walnuts
- 100 g or 1 cup pistachios
- 100 g or 1 cup almonds
- 5 ml or 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 2.5 ml or 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 900 g Phyllo Dough Sheets
- Pistachios, ground, to serve
- Step 1 For the Syrup: In a pot, add the sugar, water, cinnamon stick, corn syrup, cloves, and lemon rind. Place the pot over medium heat. In about 2 to 3 minutes, as soon as the sugar melts, remove the pot from the heat. Add the lemon juice, stir and set aside to cool
- Step 2 For Saragli: Preheat the oven to 160 C or 325 F
- Step 3 Melt the butter in a saucepan over love heat. Once melted, transfer to a bowl and have a pastry brush at the ready.
- Step 4 In a food processor, grind the pistachios, walnuts, almonds. ground cinnamon and cloves together to a medium coarse texture. Transfer the filling to a bowl.
- Step 5 Lay the Phyllo dough on a clean work surface. Place one sheet separately and drizzle with melted butter, making sure not to let the brush directly touch the phyllo. Cover with another sheet of phyllo and drizzle again with butter. Sprinkle the crumbled nuts over the phyllo layers. With the short edge nearest you, roll the pastry away from you loosely. Now you will have a sausage-shaped roll. Gently press the ends towards each other creating folds in the phyllo giving a crinkled effect.
- Step 6 Brush a 30 x 40 cm (12 x 16 inch) baking dish with butter and add the Saragli rolls. Drizzle with butter immediately and repeat the same process until the baking pan is filled with rolls. When the pan is full, drizzle any leftover butter over the phyllo rolls.
- Step 7 Bake for one hour. When ready, remove from the oven and immediately pour the cool syrup over the scorching hot saragli. Allow them to soak up the syrup for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with ground pistachio nuts and serve.