Monday, September 04, 2006
What do you do with 10 sheets of phyllo?
Back earlier in the year when DH had lost his job and we were preparing to move, I did a lot of cooking from the freezer and pantry. I won't pretend that having very little income wasn't stressful, but trying to cook with what we had on hand and trying to keep to a strict budget ended up being a somewhat enjoyable challenge. A challenge that would be even more enjoyable now, when it's not actually quite as necessary.
I don't like to let things go to waste, but with 2 refrigerators, an upright freezer and a pantry, things are bound to get lost and forgotten. To avoid discovering unrecognizable, ice-crystal-covered mystery meats, I'd like to regularly take a look at what's in the freezer, refrigerators and pantry and try to make sure that things get used up before they become inedible. It seems that when I challenge myself to use up something specific, I inevitably come upon something I might never have tried before, or the creative juices start to flow and I have the joy of creating something from my own imagination.
Last night, I had the pleasure of trying something I might never have found if I didn't have half a package of phyllo sitting in the freezer (leftover from making the Salmon Packets), waiting to be used. While searching the Cooking Light site for phyllo recipes, I happened upon a recipe for mozzarella sticks using phyllo. Sounded interesting and definitely something the whole family would enjoy. Not only did it make use of the phyllo, but it also called for pesto - I happened to have a container of store-bought pesto wasting away in the refrigerator. Perfect!
Store-bought pesto. I'm not a big fan. Normally I have tons of basil planted in the garden and make my own, freezing quite a few containers to keep us in homemade pesto all winter long. No garden this year. So, I found this brand at Wegman's and was curious.
First of all, it uses fresh basil. Many store-bought brands obviously use dried basil and don't even really taste like pesto to me. Yuck. This brand also uses ingredients you don't need to be afraid of and it tastes pretty good too. It has a slightly tangy taste that I wasn't particularly fond of, but it was quite acceptable. I believe the tangy taste may have come from the vinegar listed in the ingredients - perhaps this is needed to raise the acidity and give it a longer shelf-life?
I used mozzarella string cheese - it's what we had on hand and seemed perfect for this use. I cut them in half and dipped them in the pesto, probably using more than the recipe indicated.
On to the phyllo. First, you take your stacked phyllo sheets and cut them crosswise. Starting with one sheet, you spray it with cooking spray, and then place another sheet on top. At this point, I also sprayed the second sheet with cooking spray. You then fold these sheets in half, crosswise and then place the mozzarella stick in the center, toward the end of one of the short sides :
Next, fold the two longer sides in toward the center, and then spray with cooking spray:
Starting with the edge closest to you, roll it up and place seam side down on a baking sheet and spray again with cooking spray:
Bake for about 12 mintues in the oven until golden brown and serve with marinara sauce......yummy!
These were quite easy to prepare and were a big hit. I had extra phyllo, so I ended up with 10 mozzarella sticks which were devoured in minutes.
I'd love to try making these ahead of time to see if they would freeze well. I love make-ahead appetizers that you can pull out of the freezer and throw in the oven. I'll post if I try it.
So, now I have a fun new recipe and my phyllo did not go to waste. I still have some pesto left which I may use, along with some leftover fresh mozzarella, to make pizza later in the week.