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Katzie’s Fresh Twist on a Savory Baklava

Katzie Guy Hamilton, the Director of Food & Beverage at Equinox Fitness, knows a thing or two (or two hundred) about eating her veggies. A classically trained pastry chef turned wellness guru, she has a knack for combining wholesome ingredients to create recipes that surprise and delight. Take her zucchini baklava, for example, a totally new, dinner-ready take on a favorite dessert. Watch her break down the recipe with the help of good friend and globetrotter Leiti Hsu, then make it for yourself!

Zucchini Baklava

Salty, sweet, spicy and fresh. This recipe is simple and you do not have to be exact with ingredients. No need to be daunted by each step! Sheep’s milk and goat’s milk are known for being easier to digest and offer a differentiating flavor from cow’s milk cheese. Regular whole milk ricotta and parmesan cheese can be substituted for the pecorino and ricotta cheeses.


  • 1 package Athens® Phyllo Dough (9” x “14”), thawed
  • 8 ounces extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper, freshly ground
  • 2 teaspoons Himalayan pink salt
  • 1 bunch fresh mint
  • ½ cup oil-cured black olives
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 3 ounces raw local honey
  • ½ cup pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated
  • 4 large zucchini
  • 8 ounces goat’s milk ricotta
  • 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • ¼ cup shelled walnuts, toasted

To Prepare Components:

  1. Thaw one roll of phyllo, following thawing instructions on package.
  2. Unroll and cover the sheets with plastic wrap, then a slightly damp towel to prevent drying out.
  3. Prepare the vegetables by cutting the ends off of each zucchini and cutting in half lengthwise. Then slice the zucchini lengthwise into ¼ to ⅓ inch wide strips.
  4. Sear the zucchini in a stainless-steel skillet heated with olive oil and lightly season with salt and pepper. Allow the zucchini to caramelize slightly for approximately 3-4 minutes.
  5. Remove zucchini from the heat, drizzle with a squeeze of fresh lemon and allow to cool on a clean cookie sheet.
  6. Prepare the nut mix. Remove the stem and seeds from the jalapeño and mince finely.
  7. Remove any pits from the cured olives and mince finely. Chop the nuts and combine the jalapeño, walnuts, almonds and olives. Set aside.
  8. Place the ricotta in a bowl and season with a drizzle of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of pecorino and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir until the ricotta is smooth and lump-free.
  9. Finally, roughly chop the mint and set aside. Warm the honey so that it is liquid and easy to drizzle.

To Assemble:

  1. Preheat convection oven to 385°F.
  2. Coat a 9” x 9” glass baking dish with olive oil.
  3. Brush your first sheet of phyllo with olive oil and drape into the baking dish. Repeat until you have 4 layers of phyllo. Be sure to brush each sheet with olive oil.
  4. Sprinkle a layer of the nut mixture into the bottom of the dish. Drizzle with honey.
  5. Add a layer of zucchini, sprinkle with fresh mint and freshly grated lemon zest.
  6. Follow with a thin layer of the cheese mixture. Sprinkle with additional pecorino cheese.
  7. Place three sheets of phyllo on top. Brush each with olive oil.
  8. Repeat with the nut mixture, honey, zucchini, herbs and then cheese.
  9. Place three sheets of phyllo (brushed with oil) on top.
  10. Sprinkle the remaining pecorino generously over the top and drizzle with olive oil.
  11. Bake for 45 minutes until golden brown and crispy.
  12. Allow the baklava to cool for 20-30 minutes before serving.
  13. Use a sharp knife to cut into squares and serve with an offset spatula.

For more ways to spice up your baklava, check out our Pinterest page or search our recipe database. We’ve got sides and desserts that will make your taste buds jump for joy.

And to learn more about Katzie, head over to her website!