Working with phyllo dough isn’t the easiest thing in the world, but with a gentle touch, it’s surprisingly straightforward to make these phyllo rolls. I’m a big fan of tempeh when it’s been steamed before cooking it in a sauce. That allows it to absorb a lot more flavor. To fill up the rolls I wanted something spicy with just a touch of sweetness, and these hit the spot.
Spicy Tempeh Phyllo Rolls
1 package (8 oz.) tempeh
olive oil (to sautee)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 rib celery, diced
1/2 of a red onion, diced
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded, diced
2 tb tomato paste
1 tb apple cider vinegar
1 tsp maple syrup
1/4 to 1/2 tsp ancho chili powder (to taste for spice level)
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
freshly ground pepper & salt, to taste
1/2 package of pre-made phyllo dough, at room temperature (I used Trader Joe’s brand – the ingredients list is not terrible)
1/2 tsp olive oil + 1 tb water
Prep the tempeh. Bring 2 inches of water to a boil in a sauce pan. Roughly cut the tempeh into pieces and place in a mesh sieve or steamer basket. Steam over the boiling water, covered, for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and chop into tiny pieces.
Make the filling. Warm a small drizzle of olive oil in a skillet. Add the garlic, celery, onion, and jalapeno pepper, and cook on medium heat for 3-5 minutes or until softened. Add the tempeh and sautee for another 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste, vinegar, maple syrup, and spices and continuing cooking until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let cool.
Assemble the rolls. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Working quickly and keeping the dough covered with a lightly damp towel, take two sheets at a time of dough. Place a generous scoop of filling in one of the bottom corners nearest to you. Roll from underneath away from you, tucking in the ends as you go, and do the same in the horizontal direction. If needed, use kitchen shears to trim off excess dough from the ends (and if you’re me, eat the raw dough). Place on the baking sheet and continue making rolls until all of the filling is used.
Cook the rolls. Whisk together the olive oil and water, and use a pastry brush to brush it onto all of the exposed parts of the rolls, especially the tops. Bake immediately and for about 15 minutes, or until the rolls turn golden brown and are firm and crispy.
Note: Cooked lentils or some chopped up veggie burger would work as an alternative to the tempeh. No need to steam if not using tempeh.