I love a holiday appetizer that's healthy without tasting like you're sacrificing anything. So, when I took a class with the marvelous Alisa Barry at Rancho La Puerta's La Cocina Que Canta and tasted her "Savory Ricotta + Wilted Winter Greens Phyllo Rolls" I knew I'd be making them for parties. And I have, twice. Plus, I plan on introducing them to the kids I teach at Olivewood Gardens.
Alisa's recipe is straightforward and divine. I love the crunch of baked phyllo combined with the lusciousness of ricotta and wilted Swiss chard. The touch of nutmeg adds a spicy note. But, what's truly great about this recipe is how versatile it is. Add tiny pieces of preserved lemon. Add toasted walnuts or pine nuts. Or, as I did the last time, add scallions, marash pepper for some subtle heat, and plump raisins soaked in Grand Marnier for sweetness.
The other change I made to Alisa's recipe was to the assembly part. Alisa calls for folding one sheet of phyllo dough twice. That's fine, but yesterday I decided to make the rolls a little thinner so I sliced the sheet in half lengthwise and folded it just once. Since you roll the filled dough like a cigar, it's still plenty thick. But, I leave that to you.
Adapted from Alisa Barry
1, 1 pound box frozen phyllo (or filo) dough (follow the directions on the box for thawing)
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cups mixed winter greens (Swiss chard, kale, arugula, for example)
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 large scallions (green onions), sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Marash pepper or other red pepper flakes
3/4 cup raisins, marinated for at least two hours in Grand Marnier
1 container (15 ounces) of ricotta
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and spray baking sheet/s with olive oil (or use parchment paper.
2. In a large saute pan, heat oil and add garlic, greens, scallions, and salt. Cook until wilted. Strain excess liquid and add to a medium-sized mixing bowl.
3. Add Marash pepper, ricotta, drained raisins, and nutmeg to greens and mix well.
To assemble, lay out one sheet of phyllo dough* and slice in half lengthwise. Brush both pieces lightly with olive oil. Fold in half lengthwise. Spoon two teaspoons of the filling mix at the short end of the dough and roll up like a cigar. Repeat with the rest of the dough and filling, placing each roll on the baking sheet. Brush the rolls with olive oil and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until brown. Depending on the quality of the phyllo and how many usable sheets you get, you should have about 3 dozen rolls.
*Note: When working with phyllo, be sure to keep the sheets from drying out. Dampen a dish towel and lay it over the stacked dough, removing it only to remove a sheet of dough and then placing it back over the stacked dough.