My first experience with b’stella (often spelled bastilla or called pastilla) was a Moroccan restaurant in Atlanta called Casbah. I loved the mix of cornish hen, egg, almonds, and the sweet/savory spices that Northern Africa is so known for.
The problem came with kashrut: how was I going to eat this dish that mixes chicken and dairy? As someone who doesn’t eat margarine, and frankly doesn’t eat a ton of meat, I knew I needed a vegetarian option.
The answer came with the Feed Your Vegetarian blog, which offers a great solution: replace chicken with mushrooms! I felt, however, that portobello mushrooms and the overall cooking technique just didn’t quite match the true flavor I remembered at Casbah. So I experimented, watched a few YouTube videos and found a few tricks to make the bastella taste even better!
3 tablespoons olive oil
12 ounces mixed mushrooms, sliced (I used 3.2 ounces of dried mushrooms, rehydrated turns to 12 ounces)
1 large onion, diced
1 teaspoons Dr. Oz triple threat spice mix
pinch of saffron
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
small handfull chopped parsley
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
2 tablespoon orange blossom water
1 1/2 cup vegetable broth
salt and pepper to taste
2/3 cups almond meal (or ground almonds)
1/4 cup melted butter (for brushing)
1 8-ounce pack of phyllo dough (defrosted in the microwave for twenty to thirty seconds)
confectioner’s sugar (for garnish)
ground cinnamon (for garnish)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a pan over medium flame, rehydrate mushrooms in vegetable stock (you will have delicious stock left over). After mushrooms rehydrate, allow to cool. Squeeze liquid from about half of the mushrooms and retain the liquid in the other half. Place these mushrooms in a food processor.
Fry onions in olive oil with spiced. Cook until onions are just softened. Add lemon juice, orange blossom water, 1/2 cup of reserved stock and chopped parsley.
Allow this to simmer for a few minutes. Then add eggs and scramble in the liquid, stirring constantly. Continue to cook until most (but not all!) the liquid is cooked off. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Toast the almond meal in a frying pan, stirring frequently, until lightly browned. Let cool. Pulse eggs, toasted meal and mushroom in food processor until combined but still rough. You don’t want it to be paste!
Brush melted butter in the bottom of a deep, round baking dish. Working very carefully, line folded phyllo in the dish and brush with butter.
Place about half of mushroom/egg mixture in the center of the phyllo. Add another layer of dough over the filling and brush with butter. Add another layer of dough, butter, and seal the sides to complete enclose. Brush the seams with more butter. You should now have a nice, round “package”.
Bake for 25 minutes or until the pastry is golden and crisp.
Wait until the pastry has cooled down (about five minutes). Dust with a good amount of confectioner’s sugar and cinnamon.
If you have trouble with folding the phyllo, use this technique in the video below…