Phyllo shells are a very versatile base for many recipes so I couldn’t miss writing the instructions for how to make them at home. Phyllo, or fillo/filo pastry is a dough made mainly with flour and water, no yeast, and then shaped in very thin sheets. The name “phyllo” derives form the Greek “φύλλο” which means indeed leaf! It’s used a lot in the Middle Eastern and Balkan cuisine.
It is possible to give to this pastry different shapes and to use it for many recipes. Probably the most known use is the baklava: a very rich Turkish sweet pastry, made with several layers of phyllo pastry brushed with butter and oozing with nuts and honey: a caloric bomb!
But phyllo pastry, when used with low calories ingredients, is perfect for the diet, as it’s versatile and the calories of the pastry itself are very low. I prepare these phyllo shells filled with light ingredients, both savoury or sweet. They are ideal to prepare finger food for parties but also great for a light meal or for a snack.
Phyllo shells – the recipe
Type: Basic recipes
Portions: 12 shells
Preparation time: 15 min
Cooking time: 6-7 min
Weight Watchers ProPoints 1 shell: 1
Weight Watchers ProPoints 3 shells: 2
6 squares of phyllo pastry about 20 x 20 cm2, about 90 g, defrosted (*)
2 tsp / 10 gr margarine (also butter or olive oil)
N.B.: phyllo pastry is often sold frozen and in different dimensions. If you find different dimension sheets it is very easy to cut them to the desired size.
Melt the margarine and add a bit of water so to double the quantity. Mix it well with a small kitchen brush and set aside. Open the defrosted phyllo pastry packet and delicately pick the first sheet. Use cling film on the working surface to avoid sticking and also to cover the rest of the phyllo sheets, so they won’t dry. Brush the sheet with the mix of water and oil and cut it in half twice so to obtain 4 squares of 10 cm side, as shown in the picture.
Brush slightly a 12 muffin tin or some individual small cake tins with the water and oil mix. Overlap two little squares as in the picture and insert this shape of phyllo pastry in the tin you are using. Push the pastry well into the tin so it attaches well to the bottom and the sides of the tin and with your fingers give it the shape of a shell. Repeat until you finish the 12 phyllo shells. With the remaining mix of water and oil brush the edges of the shells.
Preheat the oven at 180°C and cook for about 5-6 minutes on the middle shelf. As soon as they start becoming golden remove them from the oven, cool down and take them out of the tin. Put them on a cooling rack until completely cold.
Now it is possible to fill the phyllo shell as desired or to put them in an airtight container to use later. Please consume within 2-3 days: they do not go off easily but the taste won’t be the same!
by Giovanna Buono
For the filling it is possible to experiment lot’s of different ingredients without adding many calories: light creamy cheese, salmon, prawns, ham, yoghurt, fruit, vegetables… you name it! Here is a picture to show you an idea of the possibilities… Aren’t they so inviting?