Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Layer Bake

Funghi, Pancetta, Porro, Peperone & Ricotta in Pasta Filo al Forno
Bacon, Mushroom, Leek, Pepper & Ricotta Filo Bake

Life can sometimes be difficult and complicated... that's exactly why dinner should not! It should be easy, preferably quick to make and in the best case fun to make! This dish is a combination of each of those things... plus it is super-tasty! So, what's not to like?!?

This was basically a way to use up the last of the filo pastry and mushrooms I had in the fridge- it had to be done! Sometimes the best ideas are born of such necessity and the results can be really great- I love to make the most of what I've got when I cook! It teaches you improvisation, economy and balance in the kitchen- and you are not going to learn any of those things from a cook book!

Obviously, this is very easy to make, as the filo pastry is the star of the show here and all that you need to do with it is to crisp it up... but when it comes to the filling, well, that is another story entirely and one where you can make the most of what you have in your fridge. Today, I started off with a handful of finely chopped bacon and 5-6 mushrooms, which I cut into sliced and sautéed together with no added fat in a non-stick pan, until the mushrooms had a nice golden tan. I then added just a tiny bit of finely chopped garlic and a handful of chopped parsley and chives. I tossed everything together and then seasoned with salt, coarsely ground black pepper and a tiny hint of lemon juice.

In the meantime, I brushed my baking dish very lightly with olive oil and then the 5 sheets of filo pastry, which I then laid out inside the baking dish. I covered the outer edges of the pastry with foil to keep it from turning brown to quickly, but popped it into a hot oven at 300°F for 5 minutes for the base of the pastry to bake golden brown whilst I finished the filling- this would help the base not getting too soggy from the filling, as filo dough is so delicate...

By now the mushrooms were nicely done, so I added a couple of yellow baby bell peppers and about a 5" chunk of leak cut into fine slices. I let them cook gently and in the meantime chopped another handful of parsley and chives to add to the fresh ricotta cheese. For this baking dish-sized serving it only took 2 tablespoons of ricotta. I added a tablespoon of olive oil to it, a teaspoon of honey, salt, pepper and a little finely grated salted ricotta. I whisked this mixture together until it was nice and smooth- the combination was really delicious!

I took the pastry base out of the oven and then added the mushroom mix and a few blobs here and there of the seasoned ricotta. I gave it a last sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper, a light drizzle of olive oil and then popped it into the oven for 5-10 minutes until it came up to temperature and became lovely and crispy golden brown on top- easy! Tasty! and fun! I sure hope you all like it!

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