Food Editor's Note: This is an unusual and fancy dish – perfect for a special occasion. It is not difficult, but it takes some time and a bit of finesse with the phyllo. I made this in stages, sautéing the vegetables in the morning, forming the phyllo packages in the afternoon, and then just popping in the oven to bake shortly before serving. Five-ounce pieces of fish make large servings – you could get away with 3-4 ounces for smaller appetites or for lunch. My guests loved the flaky pastry, flavorful salmon, and the colorful veggies that have a zip from the red pepper (and I used less than the amount called for). As Julie told me, this is a rich entrée – it needs nothing more than a few perfect roasted asparagus to complete the plate.
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
4 cups matchstick-sized strips red bell peppers (about 2 large)
2 cups matchstick-sized strips leek (white and pale green parts only; about 1 large)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper (or less if you prefer things less spicy)
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
1 teaspoon salt
12 sheets phyllo pastry dough, fresh or frozen, thawed
6 5-ounce skinless salmon fillets, about 6x2x1-inch pieces
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add bell peppers and leeks and sauté until the leeks are tender, about 6-10 minutes. Add wine and crushed red pepper to skillet. Simmer until liquid evaporates (about 4-6 minutes). Remove skillet from heat. Cool vegetable mixture. Stir in basil and salt.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in small saucepan. Place 1 pastry sheet on work surface, keeping remaining phyllo sheets covered. Brush with some of the melted butter. Top with second pastry sheet; brush with melted butter. Place 1 salmon fillet crosswise on pastry sheet, about 5 inches in from a short end. Top the salmon fillet with 1/4 cup of vegetable mixture. Fold 5-inch section of pastry over salmon. Fold in sides. Roll up, forming rectangular packet. Transfer to heavy large baking sheet brushed with butter, vegetable side up. Brush packet all over with melted butter. Repeat with remaining pastry sheets, melted butter, salmon fillets and vegetables.
[Food Editor's Note: Phyllo dries out very quickly, so make sure you brush the melted butter over the entire sheet (to keep it moist) and work as fast as you can, but carefully. The phyllo may still crack, but that's all right – it will still look and taste good. You can make mini rolls or triangles with the leftover phyllo and vegetable mixture or use the phyllo to make fruit tarts or napoleons.]
Bake salmon until pastry is pale golden and salmon is cooked through, about 35 minutes.
Julie Weisman works for ShalomBoston.com and has contributed many popular recipes to its Food Page.