Date and feta strudel

Date and feta strudel

By
From
How to Cook Pastry
Serves
6
Photographer
Peter Cassidy

This Middle Eastern inspired savoury strudel has an enticing sweet/salty flavour thanks to the unusual combination of crumbled feta and sweet dates. It looks particularly beautiful if shaped into a golden glazed coil of pastry. Delicious served with a lightly dressed salad as a starter.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
85g unsalted butter
3 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 1/2 lemons, finely grated zest
1 quantity Strudel pastry
or 6-8 sheets bought filo
extra flour, to dust

For the filling

Quantity Ingredient
3 banana shallots
250g stoneless medjool dates
60g pine nuts
1 1/2 tablespoons sunflower oil
2 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons moscatel vinegar
250g feta cheese, crumbled
salt
freshly ground black pepper

To finish

Quantity Ingredient
1 egg
1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Method

  1. To make the filling, halve, peel and very finely chop the shallots. Roughly chop the dates. Roughly chop the pine nuts and set aside in separate bowls.
  2. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over a low heat. Add the shallots and sweat for 10 minutes, or until soft and transparent. Increase the heat to medium, add the chopped dates, water and vinegar and cook for 1 minute. Season with a little salt and pepper, reduce the heat, cover and cook gently for 10 minutes or until the dates are soft and pulpy. The mixture should be a fairly thick paste, so increase the heat and boil rapidly for a few seconds, uncovered, if there is any excess moisture.
  3. Remove from the heat and, while the mixture is still hot, crumble in the feta and add the pine nuts. Stir carefully to combine, trying not to break up the feta too much. Transfer to a bowl and leave to cool completely. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200°C.
  4. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over a low heat. Stir in the poppy seeds and lemon zest, remove from the heat and set aside to cool a little.
  5. Stretch the pastry out to a 30cm square, trim the edges with a large knife and lay on a floured tea towel. If using bought filo, arrange overlapping sheets on a floured tea towel to make a 30cm square. Brush the pastry generously with the melted butter, then spread the date and feta mixture evenly over the surface of the buttered pastry.
  6. Using the tea towel to help, roll up the pastry in a fairly tight roll. Gently tip the strudel onto a baking sheet, with the pastry join underneath. Shape into a coil, firmly tucking the end piece underneath to secure the shape, or simply bend the strudel into a horseshoe shape, which will also cook a little faster.
  7. Using a fork, beat the egg with a pinch of salt and pass through a sieve into a bowl. Brush the strudel with the beaten egg and sprinkle with poppy seeds.
  8. Bake in the top third of the oven for 30–40 minutes, or until the pastry is crisp and a deep golden colour. Check that the centre of the coil is cooked through and the pastry feels dry to the touch. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool slightly before serving warm.
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