Cook | Mediterranean flavors enliven phyllo, spuds

It was a risky culinary experiment to roll sautéed kale in sheets of phyllo dough and then hold it for 24 hours before baking. Would it become soggy? Or would the roll bake up golden with a crisp outer shell? This game of speculation is what passes for entertainment in my home.

In a constant pursuit of make-in-advance recipes, experimenting with textures and preassembled dishes is what has us holding our collective breath. If the experiments work, weeknight dinners are delicious. If they don’t, we still eat them, and only two complaints allowed per person.

Turns out you can preassemble phyllo-wrapped entrées and bake them 24 hours later without affecting texture.

As for Middle Eastern Spiced Potatoes, this recipe can also be prepared in advance and baked prior to your meal. It makes an excellent potluck side. Or just cook up a batch for yourself and stuff the leftovers into a breakfast burrito the next day.


Kale Spanakopita Roll

Serves 4

2 Tbs. olive oil plus 2-3 Tbs. more for painting

1 Tbs. minced garlic

1/2 cup diced red bell pepper

2 bunches lacinato kale (dino kale), destemmed and coarsely chopped

1/2 tsp. dried dill

1/2 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg

lots of freshly ground black pepper

1⁄3 cups chopped scallion (mostly white part)

8 sheets phyllo dough, thawed

1/2 cup crumbled feta (optional)

Heat a large skillet or wok. Add 2 Tbs. olive oil. When oil is shimmering, add garlic and red pepper. Sauté 30 seconds. Add chopped kale. Sauté 1 minute. Add dill, salt, nutmeg and pepper. Cook, stirring over medium heat, for 2 minutes. Stir in scallions. Remove from heat and cool.

Place a large square of parchment paper on a flat surface. Place one phyllo sheet on top of parchment. Paint phyllo with olive oil. Add another sheet of phyllo. Paint with olive oil. Repeat so you have 4 phyllo sheets stacked on top of each other. Paint the top layer with olive oil.

Spoon 1/3 of kale filling 2 inches from the short edge of the layered phyllo. Pull the 2-inch lip over the filling and cover kale in phyllo. Stop rolling. Place half of remaining kale filling in a line next to the encased kale, and roll phyllo once over that as well. Place remaining filling in a line alongside the encased phyllo, and tightly roll into a tube. The idea is to segment kale within the roll (thirds separated by phyllo walls) so the roll doesn’t get soggy. Set the roll aside.

Place one phyllo sheet on top of the (now cleared off) parchment. Paint with olive oil. Repeat so you have 4 sheets of phyllo stacked on top of each other. Paint top layer with olive oil. Place the kale roll at the edge of the new stacked sheets, and roll tightly in phyllo. Paint the outside of the roll with remaining olive oil. Bake immediately or wrap tightly in parchment and then plastic wrap, refrigerate, and bake uncovered the next day.

To bake, preheat oven to 375. Place Kale Spanakopita Roll (uncovered and free of wrapping) on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 20 minutes. Cool 10 minutes, slice in wide pieces, and serve sprinkled with feta if desired.


Middle Eastern Spiced Potatoes

Serves 6-8

2 1/2 lbs. small yellow potatoes, quartered

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. granulated garlic

1 Tbs. zatar spice blend

plenty of fresh black pepper

1 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat oven to 425. Arrange potatoes in a 9×12-inch baking pan. In a small bowl, mix together olive oil and seasonings. Pour seasoned oil over potatoes and toss thoroughly. Bake 40-45 minutes. Cool slightly. Squeeze lemon juice over cooked potatoes and serve.

Josie A.G. Shapiro won the 2013 Man-O Manischewitz Cook-Off, is the co-author of “The Lazy Gourmet” and works at the JCC of San Francisco. Her columns alternate with those of Faith Kramer. Her website is

Josie A.G. Shapiro

Josie A.G. Shapiro won the 2013 Man-O-Manischewitz Cookoff and is the co-author of “The Lazy Gourmet.”