Satisfying, crunchy parcels that you can eat with your hands if you want – they’re best hot and crisp out of the oven, but would make good picnic food too. These can, of course, be adapted to hold so many things – whatever cheese, veg, herbs and nuts you have around, and would also be a great way to use up shredded chicken. Just choose veg that cooks down soft so it can be roughly mashed, they’ll be dry otherwise. And don’t scrimp on the cheese…
Makes 9 or 10 parcels – serve two or three per person, depending on sides and hunger
1/2 butternut or other squash (about 400g) (I recommend you save the seeds and toast them, they’re delicious – see below)
200g soft goat’s cheese
70g walnuts, roughly chopped into small pieces
2 tablespoons fresh or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped
3 tablespoons chopped olives
1 tablespoon sweet balsamic vinegar (any nice thick balsamic will work – the thin stuff will be too sharp)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 pack filo pastry sheets
Pre-heat the oven to 180C / gas 4. Remove the filo from the fridge to come up to room temperature (this helps prevent it cracking). Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
Peel the butternut squash and cut into chunky slices. Drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle over the herbs and roast for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, toast the chopped walnuts in a dry frying pan until they smell nutty and start to brown a little.
Remove the squash from the oven and splash over the balsamic vinegar; return to the oven for 5 more minutes. (NOTE: don’t wash the baking tray yet. Wash the squash seeds, pull out as much of the squash fibres clinging to them as you can, then dry them well on kitchen paper. Tip them into the baking tray, coat them in the oil and vinegar left in there, and sprinkle over some seasoning – sumac, Chinese five spice, smoked paprika, dried herbs or just a bit of salt. Whatever you have. Then return them to the oven for five minutes until theyre toasted crisp. Eat hot while you do the rest of the cooking. Chef’s bonus!)
Roughly chop the roasted squash up, then rush it with a potato masher. Tip into a bowl, and mix it together with the olives, walnuts and crumbled goat’s cheese; season with salt and pepper.
Unfold the filo sheets, remove the top one and cut it in half lengthwise. Cover the remaining sheets with an ever-so-slightly damp tea towel so they don’t dry out. Don’t worry too much about any tears or cracks; you will either fold them under other pastry, or you can stick it all together with melted butter if they’re on the outside.
Spoon a tablespoon of mixture onto the bottom of the sheet, closest to you. Fold the bottom right hand corner up over the mixture to form a triangle. Lift and fold the whole triangle over so it rolls up the pastry sheet, then fold it right to enclose the mixture. Keep folding until you reach the top of the sheet; brush the tag end of pastry with melted butter to seal it and then brush the whole parcel with butter.
Repeat until all the mixture is used up, and then bake the parcels for 10 – 15 minutes until golden and crisp.