Tomato, Feta, Almond, and Date Baklava

Baklava is usually sweet, but I always like to think outside the box, and I find that once I do this, a whole new culinary world opens up before me. This recipe doesn’t break any rules, but it certainly makes a wonderful-tasting dish, served hot or cold. Serves 6 or as an accompaniment to lamb (serves 10-12).


Serves 6 or as an accompaniment to lamb (serves 10-12)

100ml olive oil
5 Spanish onions, halved and finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
pinch of granulated sugar
a bunch of dill, finely chopped (or 3 teaspoons dried)
8 vine plum tomatoes, skinned and roughly
chopped (reserve half of the juices)
3 teaspoons tomato purée
1 packet filo pastry (9 sheets)
150g melted butter
60g blanched almonds, whizzed to a crumble
100g Medjool dates, stoned and finely sliced
250g feta cheese, crumbled
6 tablespoons clear honey

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.
Heat the olive oil in a large-bottomed pan. Gently fry the onions over a low heat, add the garlic, cinnamon and sugar and increase the heat. Fry for about 6 minutes, until caramelised. Add the dill, tomatoes and half of their juices and the tomato purée and cook for a further 5 minutes, until reduced.
Unfold the pastry and cut in half; keep it covered with a damp cloth to prevent it from drying out. Brush a baking tray (approximately 30 x 20cm) with melted butter, line the tin with a sheet of filo, brush with butter and repeat until you have a 3-layer thickness.

Spread half the onion mixture over the pastry, top with half the almonds, the dates and half the feta. Sandwich 3 layers of filo together, brushing each with melted butter and place on top of the onion and feta mix. Top with the remaining onions, almonds and feta and again top with a 3-layer thickness of filo. Lightly score the top, cutting diamonds (see photo) or squares, brush with butter and splash with a little water. Place on a baking tray and cook for 30–35 minutes until golden.

Leave to cool a little before serving, then drizzle each portion with honey. Serve with an artichoke, fennel and Kalamata salad and some fennel seed tzatziki.

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