It all happens so quickly–rain, sun and warmth spawning explosions of green in the garden. Finnochio begins to form tender bulbs as the deep green fronds of fennel weed thicken-up. Swiss chard leaves seem to double in size after one good rain and young leeks become perfectly tender. A Midwestern garden in June can be a treasure trove of delicacies–one of the late spring joys which makes winter seem long ago.
This recipe is inspired by Michigan and San Diego gardens–not to mention my Cretan grandmother (Yia Yia). Kypo (kee-poh) is the Greek word for garden. I have fond memories of Yia Yia picking fennel and other herbs, which she used liberally. She made several dishes using phyllo, often rolled by hand and devoid of the buttery residue, commonly found with most phyllo recipes. My Kypo-pita follows this tradition–there is no butter and the phyllo is lightly oiled–the secret to our delicious phyllo dishes at Inn Season Cafe.
Recently, I was asked to demonstrate a Greek-style dish at the Opa Fest in Troy, Michigan. It was exciting for me to share my language of food with my fellow Greeks and discuss its history and my Cretan roots. Particularly gratifying was to reminisce about my father, Spyros, and his passion for our Greek heritage.
When making this recipe, keep in mind that other leafy vegetables from the garden, such as spinach, beet greens, purslane and sorrel, can be incorporated or substituted.
Once you try this technique with phyllo, you will say, as the Greeks do, “Bravo!”
Please don’t hesitate to write, comment and ask questions below this post, through email, Twitter or my Facebook page.
Garden Roulades (Kypo-Pita)
Serves 8 to 10
1 1/2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup leeks, finely diced
1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups fennel root (finocchio), thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup blanched almond flour
3/4 cup fresh fennel weed, stemmed and finely chopped
In a small saucepan on medium heat, cook the oil, leeks and garlic until the leeks begin to turn clear on the edges. Add the fennel root, lemon and water, cover and simmer until the fennel root is soft. Stir-in the sea salt, almond flour and fennel weed and turn off the heat. Reserve.
6 cups Swiss chard leaves, stemmed and chopped (2 cups cooked)
4 cups Lacinato kale, stemmed and chopped (1 cup cooked)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, preferably Cretan
Steam Swiss chard and kale for 2 to 3 minutes until well wilted. In a medium size bowl, mix together all ingredients. Reserve.
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cups sweet onions (Vidalia-style), thinly sliced
1/2 cup water
Simmer all ingredients at low heat in a covered sauce pan until the onions caramelize in their own juices. Reserve.
1 cup organic expeller-pressed canola oil
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, preferably Cretan
3/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Mix together all ingredients, reserve.
1 package organic phyllo dough (preferably whole wheat)
1 cup roasted red bell peppers, sliced into thin strips
Create a clear workspace for working with the phyllo dough. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Set up a parchment lined baking sheet. Stir the oil mixture well and, using a pastry brush, lightly brush oil mixture on the parchment, add one sheet of phyllo and lightly brush the phyllo, continually stirring the oil mixture. Repeat until 6 layers have been laid out.
Place a string of red pepper strips along the edge of the long side of the phyllo. Place a ½ inch wide strip of caramelized onion next to the red peppers. Then, lay a 2 inch wide strip of the cooked greens evenly next to the caramelized onion. Lastly, spread a 3 inch wide strip of the fennel-almond mixture evenly next to the greens. Roll the phyllo roulade-style and, with a serrated knife, slice the top half of the roulade every inch or so. Repeat to make a second roulade. Arrange them both on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes until lightly browned on the edges. Remove from the oven, let cool for 10 minutes and slice into individual pieces. Serve warm. If refrigerated, they should be re-baked at 300 degrees for 15 minutes before serving to bring back the crispness of the phyllo.