Filo (or Yufka) Rolls with Beetroot and Feta

beet_filoyufkaBeetroot is one of these widely available vegetables I – strangely – almost never buy. I do not hate it, but it never provokes a craving I often experience while seeing beautiful tomatoes, aubergines or recently even fennel. When I recently saw the fabulously elegant Roasted Beets with Aromatised Feta Mousse at Katerina’s Culinary Flavors, I found the combination of the two ingredients highly promising and kept on thinking about it. Whenever I think about Katerina, filo pastry instantly comes to my mind and this is how I had this idea. If you hate beetroot, obviously these rolls are not for you, but for me, who has nothing against it, they were the best thing I’ve ever had with this humble vegetable. Thank you so much, dear Katerina, for this wonderful idea and constant inspiration!

Here are some other filo/phyllo pastry ideas you might like (especially if you hate beetroot):

Filo Rolls with Black Pudding
Filo Rolls with Black Pudding
Feather-Light Filo Tart with Plums
Feather-Light Filo Tart with Plums
Filo Rolls with Chanterelle and Goat Cheese
Filo Rolls with Chanterelle and Goat Cheese
Filo Rolls with Asparagus, Chorizo and Parmesan
Filo Rolls with Asparagus, Chorizo and Parmesan
Filo Rolls with Feta and Leek
Filo Rolls with Feta and Leek
Filo Triangles with Curried Beef
Filo Triangles with Indian-Style Beef
Spanakopita (Greek Feta and Spinach Pie)
Spanakopita (Greek Feta and Spinach Pie)
Mock Spanakopita Rolls with Wild Garlic
Mock Spanakopita Rolls with Wild Garlic
Filo Rolls with Bok Choy Leaves and Feta
Filo Rolls with Bok Choy Leaves and Feta
Filo Rolls with Roasted Green Chilli Pepper and Feta
Filo Rolls with Roasted Green Chilli Pepper and Feta

TIPS:  While adjusting the taste I found the beetroots’ sweetness too overwhelming and decided to add first lots of garlic, then chilli powder and finally some tamarind pulp. For my tastebuds this last magical touch that has made the filling perfect, but you might not like beetroot with strong flavours, so add all those gradually, according to your preferences.

You might wonder what cracked wheat or semolina are doing here. This is a magical trick I learnt from Katerina too: if added in small amounts, cracked wheat will not change the taste or texture, but it will absorb the humidity from the filling (the rolls will not leak).

I have recently had problems to buy filo pastry (my two favourite supermarkets stopped selling it), so I made an experiment with yufka, often described as “filo of the Balkans/Turkey” (my package even had the word “filo” printed). Well, even though I find this new pastry good, it is definitely NOT filo. Yufka (at least the one I bought) is at least 3 or four times thicker than filo pastry and doesn’t have such a light crumbly effect when baked (I find it also doesn’t brown quickly, hence the light colour at the photograph above). In short, it works as an emergency replacement, but is definitely different.

Tamarind (apart from its raw form) is usually sold either in hard blocks or in ready-to-use pulp (usually in jars). I strongly encourage everyone to buy the blocks, which keep for years in the fridge and which yield a much more lively, tangy pulp than the jarred one (moreover, they don’t have strange additives). It’s very easy to prepare pulp from the block: tear a 2×2 cm square and put into a mug. Add about 100 ml boiling water and after 5 minutes start stirring until the block starts dissolving. Leave for about 15 minutes and than strain through a sieve, pushing the pulp out with a spoon. Such a freshly squeezed pulp will keep in the fridge for several days.

Preparation: about 2 hours (or 1 hour if the beetroot is already cooked)

Ingredients (serves 4 as a starter):

8-10 filo sheets or 2 1/2 yufka sheets

2 big beetroots

180-200 g feta

4 big garlic cloves

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/3 teaspoon turmeric

2 tablespoons tamarind pulp (if you make it on your own, or 3-4 tablespoons if you use the jarred pulp) or lime juice

salt, pepper, chilli powder

3 flat tablespoons cracked wheat or semolina

melted butter or oil

(fresh coriander leaves or dill)

Cook or bake the beetroots until very soft.

Put the cold beetroots and the garlic in a food processor and mix to a pulp.

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Place the beetroot pulp in a bowl and add the cumin, the turmeric, the tamarind pulp and crumbled feta.

Season with chilli, salt, pepper and ground black pepper. Taste and adjust the flavours and add cracked wheat at the end. Give the pulp a good last stir.

If you use yufka, cut the sheets into four pieces each. Divide the filling into as many equal parts as the yufka pieces you have obtained.  Then, proceed as if you had filo sheets (which you don’t need to cut).

Place horizontally, about 2,5 cm/1 in. from the filo sheet’s shorter edge closest to you, a portion of the filling.

Roll tightly but delicately, starting from the edge which is closest to you, folding the two lateral edges into the roll, so that the filling doesn’t leak during the baking process (I have folded here about 3 cm/about 1,2 inch on each side).

Proceed in the same way with the remaining rolls.

Brush the rolls just before baking with some oil or melted butter.

Bake until light golden. Serve hot or slightly warm.

You can sprinkle with coriander or dill before serving.

10 Replies to “Filo (or Yufka) Rolls with Beetroot and Feta”

  1. Thank you for explaining the pastry, when I first saw it I thought it looked odd for filo. The beetroot and feta sounds very interesting and I LOVE your tip about the cracked wheat or semolina, what a great idea! The colour of the filling is very intense and would be incredibly beautiful served on a dreary winter’s day. What a lovely snack you created.

    1. Thanks a lot, Eva. I prefer filo much much better than yufka, but maybe it’s better in the dishes coming from its region? It’s a great snack indeed. I had it several times at the office for my afternoon tea and loved it (cold too!).

  2. Well, thanks to you I am now a HUGE fan of filo but, as had as I’ve tried, I just can’t seem to become a fan of beetroot. It’s gorgeous, but unless it’s mixed with chocolate, I’m not crazy about the taste. These are very pretty however. 🙂

    1. Thank you, MJ. I know what you feel… it’s like me and pumpkins 😉 I just cannot start liking them…

  3. Dear Sissi, thank you once again for experimenting on my recipes. I think your rolls look exquisite and I am so sad to hear that filo is not available close to you anymore. I wish I could be able to send you some but since it is kept in the freezer this is impossible. I hope thiswill be temporary and eventually filo producers will find their way again to the shelves. Your rolls look absolutely mouthwatering. Watching all your filo suggestions I come to realize that not only have you become a master of Japanese kitchen, but also you are a master in working with filo too! I am so very happy! Thank you once again!

    1. Dear Katerina, thank you so much for the kind words and compliments. My rolls are however so humble and simple compared to your exquisite mousse and beetroots! And you know, I’ll never be able to produce such beautiful and neat triangles of filo, so I fall for the easy rolls! It’s so kind of you to think about me 🙂 I just need to go a bit further to another supermarket… It’s quite easy to get otherwise! Thank you once again for constant inspiration!

  4. The vibrant color of beets in a filo is a beautiful combination not to mention the health value of beets. This reminds me that I’ve got to start using beets in a dish. Your rolls would be a great start. Thank you, Sissi and I hope you are having a great week.

    1. Thank you so much, Ray. Beetroots are healthy, cheap, easy to cook… You are right! We all should cook it more often.

  5. Oh goodness, I love the idea of combining beet and feta but I’m pretty sure I never have before (just checked out Katerina’s beautiful site – thank you) and I’m not certain there are enough words in the English language to describe the colour of the filling in your rolls Sissi… I am gobsmacked! (there you go, some ‘vrai’ English for you 😉 ). Seriously gorgeous – by the way, I cannot look at filo without thinking of you…just yesterday I was out picking up ingredients for my son who wanted to make butter tarts for his dad’s birthday and there was the filo and up popped Sissi on my mind :). I was not familiar with yufka though, thank you for the introduction. Love the cracked wheat tip!

    1. Thank you so much, Kelly. Some beets are lighter and some darker… I was particularly lucky with these! The cracked wheat tip is Katerina’s excellent idea I will never forget.

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