Friday, August 07, 2009

Phyllo Pizza...

Finally, the weather is starting to heat up again (I'm not crazy about high temperatures or anything, but this has been such an oddly cool season so far!) and a few of our tomatoes have just crossed over and are ripening up!

With three Roma tomatoes past their awkward blushing stage, sitting pretty in their tomato cage, I plucked them off just a couple hours ago so we could make this Phyllo Pizza with Feta, Basil and Tomatoes as our Friday Night Pizza.

I know we always use our favorite dough, and I was tempted to use it for this, but the thought of using paper thin sheets of phyllo was quite intriguing! There are usually two sizes to choose from at the market, very large rectangles that are about 18" long, or smaller sheets are are 9" long - for this recipe, you can use either, but if you grab the box that contains the longer sheets, they will need to be cut in half, crosswise, first.

A few years ago, I would so pass over any recipes calling for phyllo dough because it seemed so fuddy-duddy since you had to worry about the sheets tearing or drying out - it would just stress me out thinking about it. But, you know what? Once I caved and dove in head first, I found it wasn't scary and actually quite easy to work with! My tips - thaw it in the refrigerator overnight, rather than on the counter - the slower defrosting time helps the sheets stay separate and not gum up. Keeping it covered while you work with the dough is important - I like to set the sheets onto a piece of plastic wrap, then place another piece of plastic wrap on top. I'll then set a moist kitchen towel on top of the pile, rather than placing it in direct contact with the phyllo so the sheets don't start absorbing too much extra moisture - if they get damp, they'll start sticking together and you will end up frustrated. That's just my experience though. That's all there is to working with it though... no sweat!

So you get the flaky results you want when working with phyllo, there needs to be some fat in between each layer of sheets. This recipe did call for just using cooking spray, which I guess would be fine, though a bit messy, but let me suggest you melt a few tablespoons of butter as we did and use that instead. I won't judge and would probably have just used the spray if I was in a hurry, but what you gain in flavor and texture is worth it. In between every few layers of this phyllo stack we prepared, a sprinkling of a three-cheese concoction was added - shredded mozzarella, feta and Parmigiano-Reggiano seasoned with fresh oregano, salt and fresh ground black pepper.

Onto the final top sheet, our Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced, were arranged over, followed up by scallions and yes, more of that smart cheese blend. Baked until the phyllo takes on a rich golden hue, let this rest for just a couple minutes, but don't wait too long as you will want to experience this while it is warm and still crispy. What else would be needed to set this pizza off? Fresh basil, of course! Just before serving, small whole leaves (large are fine too, just tear them first) were strewn over for not only their brilliant flavor, but a striking contrast of color.

With such a light, almost ethereal, flaky crust, if you are a fan of thin-crust pizza, don't let this unique one pass you by this summer - a perfect vehicle for the best tomatoes and herbs you can get your hands on from either your backyard or local farmers' market.


  1. That looks and sounds fabulous and I just got some fresh basil at the farmer's market this morning--as well as tomatoes. I'm also pretty sure there's some phyllo out in the freezer. Hmm? I hear lunch calling! ;)

  2. While I *DO* really really love fresh tomatoes from the farmers market, I have to say...I have loved our cooler weather this summer! Without AC in my apt, I am miserable today with the heat and humidity :-(
    This pizza looks great--basil and tomatoes?! All you need is garlic and it would be even better :)--but it will have to wait til it cools off and I can even think about turning on my oven again...I think it will be a fun challenge to veganize this recipe--I have a fake feta I make with tofu, and a vegan parm I make with nuts and nutritional yeast, so it sounds doable!


  3. I made this recipe yesterday and we loved here Joe!
    It is such a light and tasty dish! I used only Parmesan in between the layers of phyllo and it made it so tasty, delicious!
    Your pictures look awesome as usual!

  4. Looks interesting! I've always despised working with phyllo pastry, but might have to give it another try.

    And I agree with Courtney on the addition of garlic! I love a good caprese pizza. :-)


  5. Katrina - I think this would be perfect for a light lunch!

    Courtney - I can't argue with that. Although, this week the heat and humidity are back with strength!

    Ana - Awesome!

    Kristilyn - I bet garlic would be a nice touch!

  6. What a brilliant idea - phyllo for pizza! I've tried tortillas, biscuits, bread, and polenta for pizza crust but never phyllo. Thanks for this great recipe!

  7. The pizza looks fabulous, Joe!

  8. Nanette - I thought it was quite clever too!

    Cate - It was certainly a nice change from the ordinary!