Leftovers. Leftovers are great. Leftovers mean quick snacks. Leftovers mean not having to worry about what to take to work for dinner. Some things are better as leftovers--most casseroles, soups, and stews, for instance. I hear some people make hash out of their leftovers. Some people make soup. Dad has a leftovers rule: always add one new ingredient, even if it is just a sautéed onion. Sometimes what you make out of your leftovers is better than the dish was to begin with.
Tuesday morning I took stock of the leftovers in my fridge. I had some dal, which I made the same day I made naan. I had fillo leftover from making baklava and spanakopita on the weekend. I had mincemeat leftover from making stuffed apples baked in pastry. I had a quarter of a bag of frozen peas leftover from making samosas.
The spanakopita triangles I made on the weekend were such a success that I thought anything wrapped in fillo and baked until golden would be good. What about dal wrapped in fillo? What about adding the peas to the dal and wrapping that in fillo? I thought it was worth a try. I had made twelve dal triangles when I thought of the mincemeat. I had planned to make more traditional mince pies with it, but there's plenty of time yet for that, so into fillo it went. (If you want an alternative to the traditional mince pie this holiday season, make mincemeat triangles with fillo. Crackly, crispy, flaky on the outside, pure mincemeat delight on the inside.)
These fillo pockets turned so well that I will make them on purpose in the future. I know they're excellent with a spanakopita filling. I thought they might be good with butternut squash and caramelized onion and feta. Or just feta. Or something and something and walnuts. Or some cooked apple filling. Or a ground lamb filling. You get the idea--whatever you want/have/make will be better stuffed into a fillo triangle.
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If you have ever made a "football" out of a piece of binder paper, you know how to make a stuffed fillo triangle. Assuming 13-by-17 inch sheets of fillo, cut them into thirds along the long side, so you end up with three stacks of 6-ish-by-13 inch sheets of fillo. Keep the sheets between plastic and cover with a damp tea towel so they don't dry out. You'll need at least half a cup of melted clarified butter. Take one sheet from the stack, replacing the plastic and towel before you continue. Place sheet on your work surface with the long side facing you. Brush fillo with butter and fold the sheet so the long sides come together. Brush with butter again. The next step will require some imagination. Looking at the far left side of your strip of fillo, picture a square. Now picture the diagonal line running from the bottom left corner to the top right corner that would cut the square in half. Place about a tablespoon of filling to the right of the diagonal line. Shape filling into the triangle that would fill out the square. The filling can go all the way to the bottom edge and all the way to the edge of the square--all will be sealed in when you start folding. What you should have now, looking left to right, is a blank triangle of fillo, a triangle of filling, and then the rest of the strip of fillo. Fold the triangle of fillo from the top left corner over the filling. This can be a bit tricky depending on how soft the filling is, but now fold the resulting triangle over the short side. It should become clear how to continue folding the triangle. You can press down on the triangle a bit as you go to even out the filling distribution. When your triangle is all folded up, place it on a parchment-lined baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Brush tops with butter and sprinkle with sesame seeds or poppy seeds or not just before they go into the oven. Bake for about 25 minutes at 375°F.