Zucchini Phyllo Pie

Have you ever worked with phyllo dough? I’ve been hooked on the pastry sheets, known for their use in Greek and Middle Eastern pastries, ever since I opened my first box in culinary school. Whether layered with nuts and honey or folded and crimped into a skillet, the paper-thin sheets bake up flaky and crisp, creating the perfect crunchy contrast to whatever lies inside. 

Here, that inside is just as thrilling as the shattering pastry. Thin strips of zucchini are cooked down with shallots until caramelized and jammy, then mixed with fresh corn, feta and Parmesan cheeses, plenty of fresh herbs, and a few eggs to bind it all together. The result is lighter than a quiche but more substantial than a galette — or, as I like to think of it, the perfect summer pie.

Zucchini Like You’ve Never Seen It Before

A savory pie is one of the best vehicles for fresh produce, be it a full two pounds of spinach in spanakopita, an equal amount of heirloom tomatoes in a fresh tomato pie, or, in this case, an abundance of zucchini. You’ll be shocked at how much you can pack into this pie — like other veggies with a high water content, it shrinks significantly as it cooks. 

But beyond being a solution to your garden’s overflow of squash, this recipe celebrates what I believe is the very best way to cook the in-season veggie. When cooked down far past the point of sautéed (we’re talking a full 20 minutes), the zucchini releases its water and becomes tender and deeply caramelized, creating sweet, tangled ribbons you’ll want to eat straight out of the pan.

Serve this pie to wide-eyed family members on any cool night this summer. It falls into my favorite camp of recipes: impressive to look at, with its billowing crust and deeply golden center, but surprisingly easy (and an absolute joy) to make. 

New to working with phyllo dough? Check out these tips before you get started.

YIELD: Serves 6
PREP TIME: 20 minutes
COOK TIME: 45 minutes to 50 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 (1-pound) package  frozen phyllo dough (13×18-inch), thawed in the refrigerator overnight 
  • 1 1/2 pounds zucchini (about 3 medium)
  • 2 medium shallots
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup tightly-packed coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves, plus whole leaves for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh dill
  • 1 1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese (1 scant cup freshly grated or 1/2 scant cup store-bought) 
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels (from about 2 ears fresh) 
  • 3 ounces feta cheese (about 1/3 cup crumbled)
  • Hot sauce, for serving (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Thaw 1 (1-pound) package phyllo dough overnight in the refrigerator, if needed (if there are two interior packages, just thaw one). Unroll and stack 6 of the phyllo sheets on a large baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap, wax paper, or a damp kitchen towel and leave at room temperature. Reroll the remaining phyllo sheets, place in a gallon-size zip-top freezer bag, and refreeze for another use. 
  2. Trim the ends off 1 1/2 pounds zucchini. Slice each in half crosswise, then halve lengthwise. Slice lengthwise into thin planks. Place in a large bowl. Halve and thinly slice 2 shallots. Add to the bowl with the zucchini. 
  3. Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a 10-inch cast iron or straight-sided ovensafe skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the zucchini and shallots (reserve the bowl), season with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper, and toss to coat in the oil as best you can (the pan will be very full). 
  4. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash and shallots are slightly caramelized and beginning to stick to the pan, 12 to 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, add 1 tablespoon water, and continue to cook 5 minutes more, scraping up the flavorful stuck-on bits as you go. 
  5. While the squash cooks, arrange a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Whisk 2 large eggs in a large bowl. Prep and add the following to the bowl: Coarsely chop fresh basil leaves until you have 1/4 tightly-packed cup. Coarsely chop fresh dill until you have 3 tablespoons. Finely grate Parmesan cheese until you have 1 scant cup, if needed. If using fresh corn, remove the husks and cut the kernels from the cobs (about 1 1/2 cups). Crumble in 3 ounces feta cheese. Season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. 
  6. When the squash is ready, add it to the bowl and stir to combine. Pour the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil into a small bowl, for brushing. Wipe the skillet clean and brush with a thin layer of the oil. 
  7. Working quickly to prevent the phyllo from dying out, transfer 2 phyllo sheets to the skillet, overlapping them to completely cover the bottom and sides of the pan, folding any overhang into the pan. (Keep the remaining phyllo covered). Brush lightly with olive oil. Place a third phyllo sheet in the skillet so that half is hanging over the rim. Repeat with the remaining 3 sheets, arranging them so they completely cover the rim of the skillet. 
  8. Spread the zucchini mixture into the skillet in an even layer. Fold and crimp the overhanging phyllo toward the center, leaving the center 4 inches exposed. Gently brush any remaining oil over the phyllo.
  9. Bake until the phyllo is golden brown and crispy and the center is slightly puffed and set, 25 to 30 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes before slicing. Top with torn fresh basil leaves. Serve with hot sauce, if desired.

RECIPE NOTES

Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Originally published in the kitchen.com