I always enjoy pastry, particularly when it’s used in savoury dishes, so when I recently started playing with filo pastry in my recipes it really opened my eyes to future meals I could make, such as this chicken and feta filo bake.
Filo pastry is, quite frankly, a weird type of pastry. It’s composed of a very simple pastry dough which is rolled and stretched until it creates sheets of pastry which are so thin they feel like a sheet of paper and you can almost see through them, but when filo pastry is baked it takes on a beautifully crisp texture which wraps your chosen filling in a thin parcel. I’d roasted a chicken on Sunday and had loads of meat left over so I decided to use it along with feta, cheddar and spinach in this filo bake.
I’ve yet to find a company who sells gluten-free filo pastry, so I just used normal gluten-based filo, and this recipe contains feta cheese and cheddar so it’s not dairy-free, but it’s important to remember that the FODMAP-friendly diet isn’t necessarily a gluten-free or dairy-free diet. You only need to avoid those triggers during the initial exclusion phase and then, after that, only if they specifically cause you issues or you’re allergic to them.
Feta cheese is brilliant because along with being very tasty it’s a low FODMAP cheese, but filo pastry has yet to be tested by Monash, so if you have problems with gluten or wheat I’d give this recipe a miss. Also, I used a harissa paste which was free of garlic, but many pre-made harissas contain it so exercise caution. It’s quite easy to make harissa yourself though, but you could easily use chilli paste or red pesto instead.
I guess if I was being totally honest, I’d have to admit that this recipe came about because I had a number of things which needed used up in the fridge, such as cooked meat, cheeses and vegetables, but it is such a tasty meal I can guarantee I’ll deliberately make this again pretty soon because the whole family really enjoyed it. Also, the beauty of this filo bake is that you can make this yourself with any fillings you fancy too.
I made my chicken and feta filo bake with leftover pieces of tender roast chicken, cubes of sandwich ham, some grated cheddar, cubes of tart feta cheese and diced baby tomatoes, fresh spinach leaves and a generous topping of chopped chives, all of which was complemented by a spread of spicy, hot harissa paste over the filo before baking. It came out of the oven hot and crispy and bubbling with melted cheese. I served it simply with sliced, dressed cucumber slices and I’d have to describe it as divine.
270g filo pastry (my Jus-Rol pack contained 7 sheets)
200g feta (cubed)
350g cooked chicken (sliced)
80g diced ham
130g cherry tomatoes (diced)
120g large spinach leaves (English spinach variety)
90g jar of harissa spice paste
60g chopped chives
150g grated cheddar cheese (or non-dairy version)
Vegetable oil (for brushing)
Preheat your oven to to 180°C/160C Fan/350F/Gas Mark 4 and have a large non-stick casserole dish at hand.
Lay out your sheet of filo pastry so the longest edge is beside you and spread a thin layer of harissa (or chilli paste or red pesto) on it.
Add your toppings, but remember that you have to fill 7 sheets of filo so you’ll need to try to fill them equally.
Roll up your filo sheet into a sausage shape before lightly brushing it with vegetable oil and forming it into the shape of a snail-like spiral and placing it in the casserole dish. (Don’t worry if the pastry splits. It won’t affect the taste.)
Repeat with the rest of the filo sheets.
Bake in the oven for around 25 mins or until the filo is golden brown and crispy. Serve with a fresh salad.