Savoury Baklava

Looking for an alternative to turkey? Here is a festive option for the star of the feast.


Serves 8
2 lbs (1 kg) butternut squash, peeled, seeds scraped out and diced
3 tbsp (45 ml) grapeseed oil, divided
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 x 19 oz (540 ml) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tsp (5 ml) ground cumin
2 tbsp (30 ml) harissa paste
3 yellow onions, finely chopped
1 large leek, white part only, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup (250 ml) pre-cooked, vacuum-packed chestnuts, rinsed and chopped
1¼ cups (310 ml) fresh breadcrumbs
½ cup (125 ml) chopped flat-leaf parsley
¼ cup (60 ml) golden raisins
½ cup (125 ml) vegetable stock
1 x 1 lb (454 g) box phyllo pastry
⅓ cup (75 ml) unsalted butter, melted
1¼ cups (310 ml) crumbled feta cheese
2 tbsp (30 ml) clover honey
1 tsp (5 ml) black sesame seeds or black onion seeds
1 good pinch chili flakes (optional)


  1. Heat oven to 400 F (200 C).
  2. Place squash on a rimmed baking tray, toss with 1 tbsp (15 ml) oil and season liberally with salt and pepper. Roast for 10 minutes, then add chickpeas, cumin and harissa to baking tray. Stir everything together and continue to roast until squash is just tender, about another 20 minutes. Set baking tray aside to cool for 5 minutes before using a fork to mash half the chickpeas.
  3. Reduce oven temperature to 350 F (180 C).
  4. In a large sauté pan, heat another 1 tbsp (15 ml) oil over medium heat. Add onions, leeks and garlic and cook, stirring often, until onions have softened, about 10 to 15 minutes. Place half the onion mixture in a bowl and set aside the remainder in sauté pan. To onion mixture in bowl, add chestnuts, breadcrumbs, parsley, golden raisins and stock. Mix well and season to taste with salt and pepper. To onion mixture in sauté pan, add roasted squash mixture and stir to combine.
  5. To assemble baklava, trim phyllo sheets so they fit neatly into a deep 9 x 13-in (23 cm x 33 cm) baking dish. Brush dish all over with a little melted butter. Brush 4 phyllo sheets with melted butter then layer in bottom of dish. Add ⅓ squash mixture, ⅓ chestnut mixture and ⅓ crumbled feta. Continue layering 4 sheets buttered phyllo, ⅓ squash mixture, ⅓ chestnut mixture and ⅓ crumbled feta 2 more times. Finish with a final layer of 4 buttered phyllo sheets.
  6. Cut baklava into a diamond pattern, taking care to cut all the way to bottom layer. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake until phyllo dough is evenly golden brown and crisp, about 35 to 45 minutes.
  7. Transfer baklava to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes, then drizzle with honey and sprinkle with sesame seeds, chili flakes (if using) and additional kosher salt. Serve while warm or at room temperature.
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