For this Daring Cooks' Challenge, we were instructed to make savory dishes, in edible savory containers. The possibilities are many, considering a "container" is simply defined as one that contains, i.e., holder, receptacle, vessel. I wanted to prepare something different, which was challenging because there are already so many creative ideas out there. Renata shared some of these ideas in her article, A Round-Up of incre-E-D-I-B-L-E containers, here.
I racked my brain and solicited ideas, but finally settled on attempting to make a king-sized version of a phyllo cup, in the form of a salad bowl large enough to hold a salad for four.
I had to figure out what to use for a mold, how many layers of phyllo I needed to make the bowl strong enough, and what my filling would be. When I think phyllo, I think Greek. I browsed through a few cookbooks and found Tyler Florence's Ultimate Greek Salad. Topped wiith grilled calamari, it had my name all over it.
I eyed my timpano pan hanging on the wall and decided it would make the perfect mold (it's 15 inches in diameter and quite large).
I buttered it generously to avoid any possibility of sticking, and proceeded to layer buttered sheets of phyllo inside the pan. I overlapped and reinforced, allowing some of the edges to gently drape over the edge of the pan. I think I used about 10-12 sheets of phyllo. I baked it at 325 degrees F for about 10 minutes, watching and rotating so the edges didn't get too brown. After baking, I allowed it to cool about 5 minutes, carefully loosed the phyllo bowl from the pan, and slipped it out onto a baking sheet. I returned the freestanding bowl to the oven, which was turned off but still warm, and allowed it to rest and dry a bit more while I prepared the salad.
It appeared extremely delicate, but was surprisingly sturdy.
I tossed the salad in another bowl first, and then transferred it to the phyllo bowl which I had placed on my Beast's Feet serving platter. As I started adding salad, I cringed when I heard little crackling noises as the weight of the salad settled against the crispy phyllo walls. I held my breath as John quickly snapped away with the camera, praying the walls would not come crashing down, spilling salad all over the table.
Success! The phyllo bowl was a unique presentation, complemented the Greek salad within, and provided an element of fun - throughout dinner, we were all reaching in and breaking off pieces buttery, flaky phyllo to eat with our salad. The Greek salad can be prepared with or without the calamari, or you can substitute roasted or grilled chicken.
The Ultimate Greek Salad with Grilled Calamari
Minimally adapted from Tyler's Ultimate: Brilliant Simple Food to Make Any Time
10 small whole calamari, bodies only (3/4 to 1 pound)
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, plus extra for garnish
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
Juice of 1 lemon
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved, or one large tomato, cut into wedges
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 medium cucumber, thinly sliced
½ pound feta cheese, crumbled
1 cup kalamata olives, pitted
1 head romaine lettuce, torn into bite sized pieces
Lemon wedges, for garnish
The vinaigrette serves as a marinade for the calamari and dressing for the salad.
Start by rinsing the calamari tubes and patting them dry. Place the calamari in a medium bowl.
To make the vinaigrette, whisk together the oil, vinegar, garlic, dried and fresh oregano, thyme, and lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Pour half the vinaigrette over the calamari and set the rest aside while you make the salad.
Put a large grill on the stove over medium-high heat, or preheat an outdoor gas or charcoal grill and get it very hot.
Combine the tomatoes, onion, cucumber, cheese, olives, and romaine in a large bowl. Pour the remaining vinaigrette over the salad and toss to combine.
Lightly oil the grill pan or grates of the grill with canola oil (take a few paper towels and fold them over several times to make a thick square. Put a small amount of oil on the paper towels, then carefully and quickly wipe the hot grates of the grill to make a nonstick grilling surface). Put the calamari in the grill pan or on the grill and cook for 2 minutes per side. Cut the grilled tubes into rings.
To serve, arrange the salad on a large platter and scatter the calamari on top. Garnish with fresh oregano leaves and lemon wedges.
Don't forget to go to The Daring Kitchen website and vote for the most creative edible container and filling. You can visit the recipe archives for the complete challenges and recipes, and the Daring Cooks' blogroll for links to the members' blogs. If you love to cook, and can be a little daring in the kitchen, sign up and cook along with us!
Thank you, Renata, for sharing your article about edible containers and hosting this month's challenge. Now you know, the creativity of the Daring Cooks' community cannot be contained!