Olive Phyllo Cup Appetizer Recipe

Olive Phyllo Cup Appetizer Recipe Recipe

Delicious food doesn't have to be heavy or rich in calories. Selecting ingredients wisely is the key to making these flavorful phyllo cup appetizers. Instead of using calorie-packed mascarpone cheese, I strained plain yogurt and combined the thick mixture with green and kalamata olives, roasted red bell peppers, garlic, lemon, curly parsley and extra-virgin olive oil. I also added tuna and an anchovy filet for extra brininess (you could omit them for a veggie version). The warm pan-seared Nabulsi cheese helped tie together the Mediterranean flavors of these fancy bites.

My philosophy is if you have to sacrifice flavor by using low-fat products, then don't eat it. I'd rather eat in small portions or not eat at all. Of course, eating the way we eat in our home means having to stay active all day. Juggling between my everyday tasks and my wonderful 21-month-old daughter gives me plenty of occasions to spend these calories. 

baby
21-month-old Aria going grocery shopping

Ingredients

Yields: 24 mini appetizers

6 ounces plain yogurt
1 anchovy fillet (optional), chopped
3 tablespoons white tuna (optional), drained and tightly packed
¼ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
¼ cup green olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
½ roasted red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon honey
1 clove pickled (or fresh) garlic, puréed
2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 tablespoon garlic chives, snipped
¼ cup curly parsley, chopped
¼ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
5 sheets phyllo dough, thawed
½ teaspoon salt
¼ (20-ounce) package Nabulsi cheese, cut into 6 thin slices lengthwise
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


Directions

Preheat oven at 350°F.

For the yogurt filling: Over a large colander, place the yogurt in a double-layered cheese cloth. Wrap the yogurt in the cloth. Make a knot at the tip and suspend it over the colander using chopsticks. The colander is not essential but is quite convenient if the knot breaks, you can gather the yogurt again in the cheese cloth without starting over. Place a larger bowl underneath the colander to collect the whey (yogurt liquid). Let it sit for a couple of hours. Drain as much liquid as possible. Carefully unwrap the yogurt and transfer to a bowl. 

Making olive filling: In a mini-food processor (or blender), combine the chopped olives, roasted red bell pepper, anchovies and tuna (if using), 2 teaspoons honey, garlic and lemon juice. Pulse until well distributed. Transfer to a bowl, add the thick yogurt. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Mix until well incorporated. Add the chives and parsley. Season with salt and black pepper. Stir well using a spatula. Check seasoning; depending on the saltiness of the anchovies, add more salt if necessary (I made 2 batches so there would be a vegetarian version).

Working with phyllo dough:

For easy clean up, lightly oil 24 non-stick, scalloped-edge petit four pans (I prepared 2 batches of 12 each: one with tuna, one vegetarian). Cut the phyllo dough into squares that fit into the molds.

Combine the melted butter with 2 tablespoons olive oil.

Brush a square of phyllo dough with a thin layer of butter/oil mixture using a silicone brush. Stack the phyllo squares and line each mold with 4 layers of squares. Repeat until all the phyllo sheets are used. Using scissors, cut the excess phyllo dough around the edge of the mold.

Bake for 5-7 minutes until golden. 

Assembly:

Cut each slice of Nabulsi cheese into quarters. Heat a non-stick pan and pan-sear the cheese without additional fat. Once it's melted, flip the cheese and pan-sear on the other side.

Meanwhile, fill the phyllo cups with the olive mixture and top with the warm pan-seared cheese. Garnish with parsley.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Bon appétit!


Tips

You could use the phyllo dough scraps as topping for a healthy fruit "crumble-style" dessert.

When working with phyllo dough, I use a spray bottle filled with water to maintain the moisture level and I cover the dough with a dampened cheese cloth. But most important, the key to not tearing phyllo dough is to work fast with no interruptions!

For an even healthier version, you could replace the butter with olive oil or butter-flavored vegetable spray and use an egg white to seal the bottom of the phyllo cups.

Roasting bell peppers is fairly simple. Wash the bell pepper, then pat dry. Place a grill on your stove and char all the skin of the bell pepper. Wrap in aluminum foil. Let cool for about 10 minutes. Wash the bell pepper under running water, the skin will come right off. Seed, then coarsely chop.

You can find Nalbulsi cheese in Indian/Pakistani markets. It's similar to feta cheese but much milder and sweeter and studded with caraway seeds. You could also use Haloumi cheese. I used Karoun brand Nabulsi cheese.

For a vegetarian version, omit the chopped anchovies and tuna.

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on September 4, 2013.


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