I like this strudel so much, I ate it for dinner, breakfast and lunch.
There’s something special about foods all wrapped up in pastry, whether they are meat pies or vegetable pies. Earlier this winter, I worked briefly in the kitchen of a restaurant before I accepted my current role. The chef made a vegetable strudel for a fancy event and sent the staff home with the leftovers. As people who have worked in a restaurant often know, just because you work around food doesn’t mean you have time to eat it! When I got home late that night, I kicked off my grease-covered shoes, removed my hairband soaked in dishwasher spray and shared my little piece of vegetable strudel with Jake. It was memorably delicious.
When I was flipping through Baking: A Commonsense Guide, a cool Australian cookbook, the recipe for Vegetable Strudel caught my eye. The filling in this strudel contains eggplant and tastes more like caponata. In hindsight, a little splash of balsamic or red wine vinegar would add a lovely tang. Even though this recipe has a lot of instructions, this strudel is easier to make than it might seem. Adjust the vegetable filling however you’d like and don’t worry if the sheets of fillo rip or stick together. Simply fuse them together with butter.
Vegetable Strudel Rolls
Adapted from the recipe for Vegetable Strudel in Baking: A Commonsense Guide.
Cooks Notes: I found a box of Athens brand phyllo dough at Target in the refrigerated section for a few dollars. The box contains two rolls of sheets. Larger purple eggplants may have a bitter note. Supposedly, you can remove some of the bitterness by sprinkling the eggplant with salt and patting the slices dry when they release moisture. The slimmer Japanese eggplants have a thinner skin and sweeter flavor, making this step unnecessary. The strudel is crispiest eaten hot from the oven. As it cools, the fillo will get softer. This might bother some, but we’ve been digging into the strudel anyway. Reduce the filling by half if you’d like to make less strudels. We like lots of leftovers.
1 small onion, diced
2 bell peppers, de-seeded and cut into small strips.
2 small zucchini (or one large), sliced into half moons
1 small/medium eggplant, partially skinned and cubed, or two Japanese eggplants.
2 handfuls fresh spinach leaves
Basil, I used two sprinkles of dried
1 package fillo dough
Melted butter, start with 1/2 stick
5 oz (or more) of shredded sharp cheddar (or your favorite cheese)
Vinegar (or lemon juice)
1 clove garlic, grated
Sugar, a pinch
- Pre-heat oven to 400℉
- To prepare eggplant: If your eggplant is large and has thick skin, remove some of the skin. Cut into thick slices. Sprinkle with salt. Place on paper towels until some of the moisture releases from the eggplant. Absorb moisture in towels and cut slices into small cubes.
- Pre-heat a large pan over medium heat. Saute onion in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil until it begins to turn brown. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the bell pepper, zucchini and eggplant. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until tender, adding more olive oil as needed. If you have too many vegetables for the pan, split them between two. You don’t want the vegetables to get too soft because they will bake in the oven for another 30 minutes. HOwever, you do want them to cook down enough to release a lot of their moisture so the strudel isn’t mushy.
- Toss in the spinach and toss mixture until the spinach wilts.
- Taste the vegetable mixture for seasoning, adding more salt or pepper as necessary. Toss in some fresh or dried basil and a pinch of sugar. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- Carefully unpack one roll of fillo dough. Remove one sheet. Gently brush with melted butter and top with another sheet of fillo until you have six layers. *Cover the fillo you are not working with, with a damp towel so it don’t dry out and become brittle.
- If your fillo keeps ripping: Depending on your box of fillo, some of the sheets may be hard to separate or stick together. If they are all broken, layer the partial pieces together as you brush with melted butter. Once you stack six layers of sheets, they will be strong enough to roll around the filling.
- When you have your six layers of fillo, carefully place filling along one of the long edges, leaving space on all three edges. Sprinkle with cheese. Roll the fillo around the filling, tucking in the edges.
- Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper seam-side down. Brush with more melted butter and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Repeat process with remaining vegetable mix and strudel.
- Bake for about 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. If the edges brown too quickly, lightly cover them with foil.
- To prepare the dip, combine the ingredients, adding more or less of each according to your taste.