Okay, I’ll admit. I have fear of phyllo. I love Greek food and pastries, but I am too afraid, or okay, too lazy to work with phyllo myself. Clearing all that counterspace, brushing every layer with butter, covering with damp towels. My few forays have been madly unsuccessful. And messy.
Every year in Memphis there is a wonderful Greek food festival. People line up for blocks to sample the mousakka, flaming cheese, pastitsio and of course the magnificent array of pastries made by the women of the church that puts on the fair. They sell lovely frozen tiropita, delicate filo parcels filled with cheese, already frozen and ready to take home. These are so popular that there is a limit on how may trays you can buy, and it is never enough. I love those tiropitas, but my phyllophobia has prevented me from attempting to recreate them. But I’ve come pretty close in this simple puff pastry parcel, with the feta cheese jazzed up to compensate for the lack of delicate phyllo. So it’s a cheat’s method, but still pretty darn good.
These feta parcels are great alongside a bowl of soup, or you could make them in smaller sizes and serve as a nibble with drinks.
Greek Feta Parcels
These parcels can be made hours ahead, covered with plastic wrap and kept in the fridge. Brush on the egg wash only before baking.
1 box frozen puff pastry, thawed
2 (6-ounce) containers crumbled feta cheese
2 ½ Tablespoons chopped fresh dill
½ Tablespoon grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon ground sumac (optional)
Few grinds black pepper
Lightly flour a work surface and lay out your thawed pastry sheets. Cut each sheet into 9 equal squares.
In a medium bowl, combine the feta, dill, lemon zest, sumac and pepper and toss to combine. Add one egg and mash the filling together with a fork until you have a cohesive mixture.
Spoon the filling equally onto the squares of pastry. I like to do this assembly line style, with all the pastry squares laid out so I can use all the filling, adding more to any skimpy ones. Fold the pastry squares in half diagonally to make little triangles, then press the edges together with a fork to completely seal. Poke the top of each pastry a few times with the tines of the fork. Carefully transfer the parcels to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
Mix the remaining egg and a teaspoon of water together and brush this egg wash lightly over the parcels. Bake in the oven until brown and puffed, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.