Since You Asked: Try phyllo dough in quiche

My grocery store's freezer section recently added phyllo dough. I've tried this in baklava and spanikopita, both of which seem pretty complicated for the average cook. Do you have any simpler recipes with phyllo?

— Amanda O., via email

Phyllo (Fee-loh) is, indeed, the tissue-thin sheets of pastry widely seen in Greek and Middle Eastern dishes.

In more pedestrian recipes, like quiche, phyllo makes a crispy, lower-fat substitute to American and European types of pastry. One sheet of phyllo has 1 gram of fat, with many recipes calling for eight to 12 sheets. Compare that with a typical, store-bought pastry crust's 65 grams of fat.

Some people steer clear of phyllo because it's so delicate. While it can tear, it's just as easy to mend with another sheet of phyllo.

Most recipes call for brushing phyllo sheets with melted butter and layering them on top of each other. When you brush the sheets, do it in streaks and don't saturate the sheets, or they will get soggy, tear or fall apart when you stack them. You also can spray them with nonstick spray.

Most grocery stores sell frozen phyllo — Athens is a common brand — for a few dollars. Buy the box with the smaller sheets (about 9-by-14-inch), which come packaged in two individually sealed rolls. This size prevents waste and is easier to handle.

Always thaw phyllo in the refrigerator, not at room temperature. You can refreeze well-wrapped, unused portions. But bring phyllo to room temperature just before using and always keep the unused portion covered with a damp towel.

Try this recipe for Asparagus Quiche With Phyllo Crust.

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