Friday, February 5, 2010

Crab & Artichoke Phyllo Triangles with Basil Aioli

Adapted from Crescent City Cooking by Susan Spicer
Makes about 10 appetizer-size portions (about 20 triangles)


I’ll tell you up front, this recipe makes a ton. A whole lot more than you’d ever need to feed four people. But that’s alright, because they freeze great, and the extras will keep for a good few weeks, at least. Then, whenever you need them, you can just pop them into a warm oven and presto, instant appetizer (or light lunch or snack). Can’t beat it, really. I prefer to make them the day ahead anyways, and freeze them overnight. Then it’s one less thing to worry about the day of the party.

For the Filling:
2 Tbl extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 (15 oz) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
3 Tbl flour
1 cup milk
1 (10 oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and
thoroughly squeezed to remove as much water as possible
8 oz cream cheese
juice from half a lemon
2 Tbl fresh basil, chopped
1 bunch chives, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
8 oz feta cheese, crumbled
8 oz crab meat *
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and season with a good pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and the red pepper flakes and cook 1 more minute. Add the artichoke hearts and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the flour and stir to evenly coat the vegetables. Cook for about five minutes, then slowly add the milk, whisking as you pour to smooth out any lumps. Add the spinach, mix to combine, and simmer for about five minutes. Turn off the heat and add the cream cheese (cut into pieces) and mix to combine. Allow to cool about fifteen minutes. Add the lemon juice, basil, chives, feta and crab meat. Mix to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Cool completely or refrigerate until needed.

To assemble:
1 package phyllo dough
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted
1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
flaky sea salt, as needed

Arrange one sheet of phyllo on a work surface with the short side facing you. Brush evenly with butter and sprinkle evenly with a thin coating of breadcrumbs. Top with a second sheet, brush with butter and sprinkle with crumbs. Repeat once more with a third sheet, butter and crumbs. Slice the sheets vertically into four equal strips. Place about two tablespoons of filling at the bottom corner of each strip. Fold the corner over to enclose the filling and form a triangle. Continue folding the strip (like a flag), maintaining a triangle shape. Place the triangle, seam side down, on a baking sheet. Brush the triangle top with butter and sprinkle with more bread crumbs and salt. Continue with this process until all filling is used up. Refrigerate until ready to bake. (They can be frozen too at this point, and popped right into the freezer.)

Preheat the oven to 435°F (350°F if frozen). Place the triangles on a cooling rack placed over a baking sheet (or simply on a greased baking sheet). Leaving a bit of space between the triangles, bake until golden brown, about 12-15 minutes (20-30 minutes for the frozen ones). Serve warm with Basil Aioli.

*Don’t go crazy with the crab here. There’s no need to buy any of the expensive jumbo lump stuff. It’s getting mixed together with all other sorts of tastiness, so don’t go breaking the bank. As long as it has a good fresh flavor, it’ll be fine for this. (And here’s a secret. If you’re feeling extra frugal, these are even great with no crab at all. In fact, once you start dunking them in the basil aioli, you’ll hardly notice anything’s missing.)




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