Author Mark Bittman's riff on a pastilla--a North African sweet-savory chicken pie--features a hearty spiced filling hidden beneath a flaky phyllo crust. Oh, it's also an impressive vegan dinner when you want to impress guests with dietary restrictions.
Preheat oven to 400°F. In a food processor combine parsnips, onion, olives, apricots, dates, almonds, and garlic. Pulse until pieces are pea-size, working in batches if necessary and scraping down sides as needed.
In a large skillet heat 3 Tbsp. oil over medium-high. Add parsnip mixture and 1 cup water. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Cook 10 to 15 minutes or until parsnips soften and pan is mostly dry, stirring occasionally and adjusting heat so mixture sizzles without burning. Add ras el hanout. Cook 1 minute or until fragrant. Turn off heat. Stir in cilantro and lemon zest. Season to taste, adding a little lemon juice if desired.
Oil a 9-inch pie plate. Cut 8 sheets phyllo into 9-inch squares. (Discard scraps.) Place one square in bottom of pie plate, allowing corners to hang over rim. Brush phyllo with oil. Top with a phyllo sheet at a 45° angle. Brush with oil. Repeat with two more sheets, fanning to evenly cover sides of pie plate.
Spread vegetable mixture evenly over phyllo. Top with four more phyllo squares, brushing each with a little olive oil and offsetting corners. Fold edges of all phyllo down into sides of pie plate to enclose. Brush top with oil. Cut a few small slits in top to allow steam to escape. Cover with foil.
Bake 15 minutes. Remove foil. Bake 5 to 10 minutes more or until golden brown and crisp. In a small sieve combine sugar and cinnamon. Shake over pie to dust. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 4.
Ras el hanout is a distinctive Moroccan spice mix that can contain up to 100 spices. In a pinch, substitute garam masala, which has similar characteristics.
(5 g saturated fat,
5 g polyunsaturated fat,
26 g monounsaturated fat),
0 mg cholesterol,
908 mg sodium,
69 g carbohydrates,
13 g fiber,
32 g sugar,
9 g protein.