Cornmeal Pie (Plastos)

This week we’ve got a diffrent kind of Greek pie for you. As you know we love pies, and traditional Greek recipes! This recipe comes from the region of Thessaly, in mainland Greece, an area with vast valleys and mountains. It is sometimes called the “easy” spanakopita, or hortopita (wild greens pie) as it’s basically a spinach or wild greens pie, but without the classic filo.

As with most traditional Greek recipes, there are as many recipes out there as there are cooks. When researching for this blog post, I discovered lovely stories of “this is how my grandmother used to make it”, tips on how to achieve the best texture and so forth.

In this pie, the filling is the same as that of the spanakopita, with spring onions, onions, and/or leeks, spinach and feta cheese. Many also use wild greens instead of spinach, as in the classic Hortopita (wild greens pie). However here, all vegetables are added raw. Our alliums were not that tender, so we gently fried them for a bit, diverging from the classic recipe.

Instead of the labour-intense filo, the cooks prepare a mixture of cornmeal, olive oil, and some liquid, placed on top and at the bottom of the filling. Some use water (and omit the feta cheese if the pie is to be consumed during Lent). Others use milk instead of water, kefir, or yoghurt mixed with water. Some put little pieces of butter on top of the pie before placing it in the over, but olive oil is also preferred.

In our version of plastos, we went for our beloved olive oil instead of butter, and used vegetable stock for the cornmeal, as we feel it offers a delicate, light texture. We also love equal parts of filling/filo, but if you prefer more filling, just use a bit less of the cornmeal / water mixture. Feel free to experiment and create your own version of this wonderful pie!

Serves 10

4 spring onions
1 medium leek
2tbsp olive oil
500g spinach or seasonal greens
1 large bunch of dill
250g feta cheese
600g cornmeal
100ml olive oil, plus more for greasing the pan and drizzling over the pie
500ml+100ml water, vegetable stock or other liquid

Preheat your oven at 200C.

Place your spinach in a large bowl, season generously with salt and massage the leaves for 2-3 minutes. Their volume should reduce in half. Set aside in a colander, as you prepare the rest of the filling.

Finely slice the spring onions and leeks. Place them in a frying pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and gently fry until tender but not caramelised. Let cool.

Finely chop the dill.

In a large bowl add the spinach, spring onions and leeks, dill, and crumble the feta cheese.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the cornmeal with the 500ml of vegetable stock (or other liquid you are using). Season generously with salt. You should have a thick mixture, resembling a slightly looser cookie dough.

Grease a 30cm baking pan with olive oil. Place half of your cornmeal mixture and spread it so that the bottom of the pan is covered. Place your spinach filling on top.

Add the 100ml of vegetable stock (or other liquid) to the remaining cornmeal mixture to dilute it, so that it resembles a loose cake batter. Pour it on top of your spinach filling. Drizzle plenty of olive oil on top.

Bake at 200C for 50min-1 hour on the bottom rack of your oven, until golden. Serve with Greek yoghurt of more feta cheese.

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