The syrup made from cooking the quince is fabulous; add it to braising liquids and salad dressings. If it’s thick enough, use it for a glaze on the strudel—just drizzle it on about 10 minutes before removing the strudel from the oven. Serve this lovely pastry with your favorite vanilla ice cream.
2 medium quince (about 1 pound)
1 cup water
1 cup agave nectar
Pinch of sea salt
2 ripe pears (about 1 pound)
8-10 sheets phyllo dough, each about 13×18 inches
4 tablespoons melted butter (or more as needed)
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
Dash of fresh ground nutmeg
1. Peel and core quince. Cut in thirds or quarters and place in a small saucepan. Cover with water, agave, and a pinch of sea salt. Bring to a slow boil, cover, and simmer for 2–2 1/2 hours, until quince is sepia colored and liquids have reduced to one-half or one-third their original amount.
2. Peel pears, if desired, and remove cores. Thinly slice lengthwise. When quince is done, slice in same size and thickness as pears (more or less).
3. Preheat oven to 350˚. Cover a flat baking sheet with parchment paper or waxed paper (it will be removed before baking). Place one phyllo sheet on paper (immediately cover remaining sheets with plastic wrap and a damp towel to keep from drying out). Brush with melted butter. Place another sheet on top and brush with butter, reaching to all edges. Repeat with remaining sheets.
4. Layer quince and pear slices in the middle of phyllo rectangle, leaving a 4-inch margin at the top, a 1 1/2-inch margin at the bottom, and 2-inch margins on each side. Sprinkle nuts and nutmeg over fruit. Lifting with parchment or waxed paper, fold bottom edge to the middle (over fruit) and brush with butter. Again lifting with paper, fold each side of phyllo toward the center; brush with butter. Then roll pastry away from you, using paper to lift and buttering any exposed dough as you go, until pastry is completely rolled into a thick log. Remove and discard paper. Thoroughly butter underside of pastry. Don’t worry if the top cracks a little; if it remains smooth, use a sharp knife to make a few slits.
5. Bake on lower or middle oven rack, 30–45 minutes or until pastry is fully crisp, top and bottom, and a dark golden brown.
PER SERVING: 250 cal, 33% fat cal, 10g fat, 3g sat fat, 12mg chol, 2g protein, 42g carb, 2g fiber, 108mg sodium
Recipe provided by Joanne Saltzman, author of Intuitive Cooking (Book Publishing, 2006). Saltzman is the founder of the School of Natural Cookery in Boulder, Colorado (www.naturalcookery.com).