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.


Pies are very much loved in Greece. They were traditionally created as a way to use whatever vegetables, herbs, and other foods were available. They represent in many respects the “Greek cuisine of need”, in which the food that is created is interlinked to the changing of the seasons and availability of ingredients.

It takes flour, water, olive oil and vinegar to make the filo and then the cook’s imagination takes over. This week we are making a classic Greek pie, spanakopita. We’ve made a vegan version in the past, which is also traditionally eater during Lent in Greece. The basis of this pie is of course, spinach. Some kind of allium, usually spring onions, red onions or even leeks are used. Feta cheese is a must, as well as eggs for texture. In some households milk, cream or yoghurt is added in the filling, but we decided to keep it classic. You can make your own filo, use store-bought, or even puff pastry! If you can get your hands on large, dark green spinach leaves go for it! They take a while to clean and prep, but I feel they work better here than baby spinach.

Serves 10

1 bunch of spring onions
1 medium leek
1.5kg of spinach (leaves and stalks)
½ cup olive oil (80ml)
1 small bunch of dill, leaves only, finely chopped
250g feta cheese
4 eggs
8 sheets of filo
150ml olive oil

Preheat the oven at 180C.

Finely chop the spring onions, leek and spinach stalks (if any). In a large pot, and over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and gently fry them until translucent and tender.

Roughly chop the spinach leaves and add to the pot, turning up the heat to high. Season with salt and pepper (but remember not to use too much salt, as the feta cheese is salty too). Stir everything together, until the leaves become tender, reduce in volume and all liquid is absorbed, around 20 minutes. Add the dill, remove from the heat and let the spinach cool down.

Crumble the feta cheese in the spinach mixture and add the eggs. Taste and adjust for seasoning.

Brush your baking tray with olive oil and place one sheet of the filo. Brush with olive oil again. Cross over a second sheet of filo, ensuring that the entire surface of your tray is covered. Brush with olive oil. Continue crossing over with olive oil and filo, using four sheets in total.

Place the cool filling in your tray, careful not to break the filo.

Cover with one sheet of filo and brush it with olive oil. Repeat until the top is covered with four sheets of filo. Tuck in the edges. Brush the top with the remaining olive oil.

Score the pie and bake at 180C at the lower rack of your oven for about one hour.


If there’s one thing that’s associated with Greek cuisine (but also Turkish and quite a few others for that matter), that is definitely filo. Filo is a thin dough made with no yeast or other leavening agent. It is used for a variety of dishes, like baklava or pies.

It takes quite a bit of skill to roll out filo swiftly, and if you ever find yourselves in a Greek village, you will see older women, using a very thin rolling pin, creating paper-thin layers of filo in a few seconds. We do not have that skill (yet!), but join us as we -slowly- roll out filo.

This recipe was given to me by my godmother, Alexandra, who got it from her friend, also called Alexandra. It is surprisingly easy to make, so if you have never made filo before fear not!

Makes 8 sheets for a 30cm pan

350g all-purpose flour (you can also use half wholegrain and half all-purpose flour)
salt
70ml olive oil
45ml red wine vinegar
120ml (1/2 cup) water

In a large bowl add the flour and season generously with salt. Whisk together the flour and salt. Add your olive oil and vinegar and start mixing everything together using your hands. Add the water and work the dough in the bowl, until all ingredients are combined, and the dough is no longer sticking at the sides of the bowl.

Place the dough in a clean, floured surface. Work the dough for another 5 minutes until smooth. Return it to the bowl, cover in clingfilm and place it in the fridge for one hour.

Separate the dough into eight balls. You can use a scale to ensure each ball is the same size as the others, but really, you don’t have to.

Roll out each dough ball, so that you have a very thin, round sheet of filo, adding a bit more flour if needed. If when you start rolling our your dough it springs back, then it needs to rest a bit more. Leave it outside the fridge for another 10 minutes and try again.

You can roll out the filo by rotating the dough clockwise, and rolling it away from you. Alternatively you can rotate your rolling pin clockwise, moving from the centre of the dough outwards, keeping the dough in front of you.

Place the filo sheets on top of each other with clean kitchen towels in between. By the time you have rolled out the last one, they will have dried up a bit, which is what you want, so that they can absorb the beautiful olive oil that you will brush them with.

Your filo is now ready to use!! Check out our pie recipes for inspiration!


On Sunday we celebrated Greek Easter! There are many traditions that go with this celebration. There’s the lamb on the spit, of course; our beloved tzatziki; dying eggs red; fasting for 40 days; eating loads of tsoureki, the traditional brioche-type bread; the traditional magiritsa soup, made of offal.

Galatopita is a tradition upheld at Marianna’s home, and in many other Greek hourseholds as I’ve discovered while researching for this post. Galatopita literally means milk pie. Its custard-like filling has a buttery, creamy texture and a subtle, comforting sweetness. It is made of milk, sugar, fine semolina and eggs. Some variations around Greece include filo, while others omit the filo. The recipe we’re using is by Mrs Kalliopi, Marianna’s mum. It was hand-written, with just a rough estimate of the ingredients, and no cooking instructions. More of a reminder for the experienced cook of what goes into the galatopita. We absolutely love such recipes!

In the past, this was traditionally made with fresh, unpasteurised milk. So if you can find some, do use it for this delicious dessert. We used goat’s milk for ours. If you try any plant-based milk, do let us know how it turned out! As this recipe only has very few ingredients, do try and get the best you can afford. Definitely get the cinnamon to serve, this is not optional, it’s part of tradition.

So let’s enter May, and celebrate spring with this sweet delicious dessert. Thank you Mrs Kalliopi!

Serves 10

1200ml milk (approx. 6 cups)
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
200gr white sugar (approx. 1 cup), plus more for the baking tray
150gr fine semolina (approx. 1 cup)
6 eggs
Olive oil and more semolina (for the baking tray)
cinnamon (to serve)

Preheat your oven at 180C.

Place your milk in a large heavy-bottomed pot and over medium heat. Add the vanilla and stir well. Add the semolina and sugar. Using a whisk, start whisking all the ingredients together. As the milk warms up and the semolina hydrates, you will slowly see the mixture thickening up. Do not forget to whisk the mixture, otherwise the milk will burn at the bottom of the pot – you do not want that. The texture we are going for is like that of a very thick béchamel sauce, or Greek yoghurt.

After the mixture thickens up, after around 15-20 minutes, remove your pot from the heat. Very slowly add the eggs, one by one, whisking constantly so that each egg is incorporated before moving to the next one. You should end up with a very smooth, silky mixture.

Butter or oil a shallow baking tray and dust it with plenty of semolina. Pour in your mixture. Sprinkle more sugar and cinnamon on top. Bake at 180C for 40-45 minutes, until the cream is set.

Serve with plenty of cinnamon.

 

 


Today is tsiknopempth! It is the Thursday very close to the beginning of Lent for the Greek Orthodox Easter, where traditionally we consume meat. And if you’ve ever been to Greece you will know that one of the few things that go perfectly with meat are pies!

Traditionally, pies were peasant dishes, in which people would use literally whatever they had available. Greens from the garden (spanakopita!), cheese from their animals (like in this bulgur wheat pie), you get the idea. But of course, they are quite sophisticated dishes, as they can be elaborate in their making, this is why they are usually made in large trays. But fear not, this is a simple recipe, open to all! It will require some time, so consider this a Sunday affair. Or you know, make it any other day of the week, days seems to have blended into one now that we are in lockdown.

For this one we’ve used the last pumpkins of the season, a very appropriate goodbye to one of our favourite autumn/winter vegetables -yes we are now ready for wild garlic, bring it on, spring!

Serves 12

1.5 kg pumpkin (around 1.350gr flesh)
1 large onion
4 tbsp olive oil
salt, pepper (to taste)
85g Carolina rice
250g feta cheese, grated or crumbled
1tsp dried spearmint
2 eggs
8 sheets filo pastry
150g olive oil

Using a sharp knife, cut your pumpkin into smaller pieces. Peel the outer layer. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds. Coarsely grate the flesh.

Peel and finely chop the onion.

In a medium-sized pot, place the olive oil and onion over medium heat. Cook until caramelised, about 5-10 minutes.

Add the pumpkin and stir well. Season with salt and pepper (but do not add too much salt, as you’ll be adding the salty feta cheese afterwards). Once the pumpkin starts cooking, lower the heat and slowly cook, stirring often for 15 minutes, until soft and tender. Add the rice, stir, and cook for another 20-25 minutes, stirring often.
-Yes, this is a recipe that requires care. But it’s also very relaxing as a process.

You will know that your filling is ready, once the pumpkin is soft and the rice is al dente but not fully cooked. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven at 180C.

In the meantime, prepare your filo. Brush your baking tray with olive oil and place one sheet of the filo. Brush with olive oil again. Cross over a second sheet of filo, ensuring that the entire surface of your tray is covered. Brush with olive oil. Continue crossing over with olive oil and filo, using four sheets in total.

Return to the filling. In the cool pumpkin mixture, add the spearmint, feta cheese and eggs and mix everything together. Check for seasoning and adjust. Place the filling in your tray, careful not to break the filo.

Cover with one sheet of filo and brush it with olive oil. Repeat until the top is covered with four sheets of filo. Tuck in the edges. Brush the top with the remaining olive oil.

Score the pie and bake at 180C at the lower rack of your oven for about one hour.

Enjoy!


It’s this time of the year again -around Thanksgiving- that the web seems to be exploding with pumpkin pie recipes. This year the food world went crazy over a clear pumpkin pie prepared by the Alinea wizards. Some found this version of the classic American dessert “creative”, others “nonsense”. Let’s be honest, we would love to try it -would you?

The following recipe is one of our favourite ways of preparing this pie: Baking the pumpkin first, lightly spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg (sometimes we also use ginger and cloves) and mashing it up. The filling is quite delicious as it includes grape molasses for depth of flavour, walnuts for crunch, Corinth raisins for texture, and orange peel for the citrusy effect. Feel free to modify if you prefer it sweeter or add more grape molasses in case you follow a sugar-free diet. We choose to use phyllo pastry as we love its versatility –have you checked Despina’s recipes with it during our cooking workshops?

Ingredients
1 kg yellow pumpkin
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground nutmeg
½ cup ground walnuts
2 tsp fine semolina
2 tbsp grape molasses
5 tbsp cognac
½ cup sugar
½ cup butter at room temperature
½ cup of Corinth raisins
Peel from an orange
1 egg for glazing
½ kg phyllo pastry
Olive oil
A pinch of sea salt

Method

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Cut the pumpkin in big pieces, peel, deseed it and cut in small cubes. Coat the bottom of a tray with olive oil and lay the squash. Sprinkle with nutmeg and cinnamon. Cover the tray tightly with a double layer of tinfoil and bake to 170°C until soft (approximately for 45 minutes).

Remove from the oven and allow the pieces of squash to cool. Put the pumpkin in a food processor and whiz until smooth or mash it with a spoon. Transfer to a big bowl.

Combine the walnuts, semolina, orange peel, half portion of the sugar, sea salt and grape molasses to that mix, as well. Drizzle the raisins with cognac and let them sit for 10 minutes. Drain them and place them to the mix.

Coat the baking pan with butter and place 5 sheets of phyllo-each coated with butter and sprinkled with sugar. Turn the ends inwards and glaze the pie with an egg and water mix. Carve the pieces and bake in a preheated oven to 170°C for 45 minutes.

Enjoy with a warm cup of tea or coffee!


When one asks what Greek food is, one of the first things that comes to mind is pies. Yes, pies are what most Greeks associate with home. We may not all know how to make them, but we sure know how to appreciate them.

During our first workshop in May, our guest chef Despina introduced us to the world of pies. We all made together a delicious leek pie using filo pastry. The filling was sweet leeks, feta cheese and lots of herbs. Pie making skills? Check. Pie eating? Check.

As we are waiting for our next workshop, we decided to put our skills into good use here. And hopefully to inspire you to play around and experiment with filo (or phyllo) pastry at home. In Greece, most spinach pies include eggs and feta cheese. Here, we are offering you a twist to what most Greeks might be familiar with. We wanted to bring out the flavour of spinach and herbs. So we decided to omit the eggs and include just a tiny bit of feta cheese. The feta cheese in such small quantity adds the needed tanginess and saltiness but is not visible in the pie. So spinach and herbs prevail!

What is magical about pies is that you can include whatever you have in your fridge. It’s the dish that represents no-waste. So, in the recipe we are suggesting below, do include whatever you have in your fridge. A green pepper or a few strips of bacon? Finely chop and add to the spring onions. Wilted greens or lettuce? Add them to your spinach. Of course, feel free to add an egg or more feta cheese. We usually make pies once a week, as a way to clear the fridge. Sunday is a great day to make a pie. You have the time it takes to prepare everything. And you have your lunch sorted for the week.

For a medium sized pie you will need:

1 pack of filo (phyllo) pastry at room temperature (you can find it in Greek and Turkish speciality shops)
1 kilo spinach,
5 spring onions
1 small bunch of dill
2 springs of mint
2tbs  olive oil (frying) and 3/4 cup (brushing the filo)
pepper

Preheat the oven to 180C. Wash your spinach. Finely chop the stems and roughly chop the leaves. Finely chop the spring onions, dill and mint. You can use the stalks of your herbs if you want to – we did.

In a large frying pan add the olive oil and gently fry the spring onions. Set aside in a large bowl. Add the spinach and gently fry until it releases most of its liquid. Add to your bowl. Let it cool down. Add in the herbs and crumble the feta cheese. Mix everything together.

Unwrap your filo pastry. Place it on your kitchen counter with a wet cloth on top, to prevent it from drying out.

Using a brush, cover your tray with olive oil. Here we are using our 27C extra virgin olive oil, as spinach pairs perfectly with its rich flavour and aromas. Lay 5 sheets of filo pastry, brushing with olive oil in between each layer. Add your spinach mixture and pat it so that it’s uniform around the tray. Add 5 more sheets of filo pastry, again brushing with olive oil in between each layer. If you have leftover filo pastry, you can crumble it on top of the pie to decorate it.

Bake at 180C for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with a green or a tomato salad.


New grains and pulses are here! Straight from northern Greece, chickpeas, lentils, fava, bulgur and many more. There is nothing more comforting than a warm soup of nutritious grains or pulses to fight winter blues. Hm. Maybe except a pie.

Greeks are famous for their pies. Any Greek cook will know how to make a pie. Or they will know someone who makes them. They used to be the food of the poor.  Even today, you would make the filling with whatever’s in your fridge.

Today we are making a pie with bulgur and (what else) feta cheese.  This recipe is by a Greek chef Nikos Katsanis, adapted for you.

For one large baking tray

2 sheets of puff pastry
230g bulgur
30g semolina flour
650ml of whole milk plus more if needed
2 eggs plus one more for glazing
170g crumbled feta cheese
A few springs of mint (or other herb of your linking)
Olive oil for the pan
Salt, pepper to taste

In a pot warm up the milk and just before it reaches its boiling point, add the bulgur and cook until bulgur is tender, approximately 15 minutes, stirring regularly, adding some more splashes of milk if needed. Add the semolina flour and stir for another 10-15 minutes until you get a thick cream-like mixture. Turn off the heat and let it cool, stirring every so often so that no crust is formed.

Once the mixture is cooled down, add the feta cheese, eggs and mint (you need the mixture  to be cool so that you don’t cook the eggs with the heat). Season with salt and pepper.

Oil your baking tray and lay the one sheet of puff pastry. Place the bulgur-feta mixture and spread it evenly, using your fingers or the back of a spoon. Place the other sheet of puff pastry on top and pinch together the edges. If there is leftover puff pastry and you are feeling creative cut shapes of your linking and “glue” them on top using some water. Brush the pie with the beaten egg-this will give is a lovely shiny colour.

Bake at 180 degrees for approximately 40 minutes, or until the pastry is cooked at the top and bottom.

Serve with some Greek wine!