Maybe you already know my recipe for Chortopitarakia, the small pies stuffed with wild green herbs.
If you do not have the time or patience to make those you should try this pie. Compared to the small pies, it will take you about half hour to prepare the pie before cooking. So it is quickly done, healthy and even vegan!
As greens you can use any green vegetable you like. If you are a bit familiar in wild vegetables go out and find them on your own if your supermarket, grocery store or local weekly market does not offer any. Especially if you can find wild fennel fronts, you will realize the difference! Basically you can use the same green vegetables I used for my Chortopitarakia.
In Greece the women usually make their own filo pastry. But also in the local supermarkets you can find all kinds of filo pastry in the deep freezer. It makes life a bit easier and helps to reduce preparation time.
One most important thing is that you should never bake pies on air! In old times there were not existing ovens with circulating air! Women baked the food in a stone oven heated with woods. To get best results always bake pies on the lowest rack level to have a crunchy bottom of your pie. Make sure that the vegetables you use are as dry as possible before using them to reduce humidity while cooking and ensure that the bottom of your pie will not be soaked. I use a piece of tulle. It is perfect to squeeze out all liquid form the vegetables. A good trick is to add some breadcrumbs or semolina into the vegetables to catch the liquid of the greens while cooking.
If you like you can add 300 gr of Feta cheese to the vegetables. Just crumble it into small pieces, mix to the vegetables before spreading them in the baking tin.
What you need:
1 Pck. Filo Pastry (Greek thick rustic filo pastry sheets – with 6 sheets)
2-3 large leeks without greens
1 medium dry onion
1 bunch of spring onions
1 bunch of dill
1 kg of green vegetables (spinach, Swiss chard, fennel fronts, parsley, turnip cabbage)
1-2 Tbsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
1 tsp cumin
2 Tbsp. breadcrumbs
3/4 cups of olive oil
How to prepare:
Let the filo thaw over night in the fridge or for 2-3 hours at room temperature.
Clean all green vegetables carefully and let dry very good over night or on a kitchen towel.
Cut the onion in half and then in stripes. Cut the leek and spring onions in roles using also the green of the spring onions. Chop all green vegetables coarsely, using also the stems of the spinach, fennel fronts and parsley!
In a pan heat 2 Tbsp. of the olive oil and fry the dry onion stripes and the leek until glassy. Do not let get brown. Remove from the heat.
In a large bowl combine all remaining vegetables with 1-2 Tbsp of salt. Squeeze and mash the vegetables with your hands until the vegetable juice collects on the bottom of the bowl and it collapses in half. Place the vegetables on a clean cloth or tulle and squeeze and twist out as much liquid as possible.
Add the fried onions and mix well, season with pepper and cumin (optional). Add 2-4 Tbsp of olive oil and the breadcrumbs or semolina and mix well.
Add some olive oil on the bottom of a large baking tin (app. 28 cm Ø or 30×40 cm). Unfold the filo and place one sheet into the tin, overlapping one edge. Do not worry about the flour on the sheets, do not brush them away. It will also help to keep the pastry dry and crunchy. Sprinkle some oil on the sheet and place the second sheet, overlapping one empty edge of the tin, sprinkle again with some olive oil. Repeat with two more filo sheets. It is important to sprinkle the oil. Do not brush with a pastry brush. The drops of the oil ensure that there will be air between the sheets to make the filo pastry crunchy.
Add the vegetables and spread out evenly.
Place on top of the vegetables one filo sheet. It is not necessary that the sheet is straight. In will look nicer if you crinkle the filo a bit. Sprinkle some olive oil on top and add the last sheet. Sprinkle the last filo sheet again with some olive oil and cover the edges with the overlapping filo sheets. Make sure that the overlapping sheets got some olive oil as well.
With a sharp knife, cut the top sheets carefully crosswise if you use a round tin, or into squares if you have a rectangular tin. It is important to pre-cut the pie to make sure that the remaining humidity of the vegetables can escape and the filo pastry stays crunchy.
Cook the pie at 180ºC for 1 hour on the lowest level of your oven with top and bottom heat. If the top of the pie has took a nice golden color. Turn the heat of the oven to bottom heat and let bake for another 15-20 minutes. The pie is ready when it is moving easily in the baking tin.
Let stand for 30 minutes before serving.