Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Cooking: Pie with leafy greens (Χορτόπιτα)

In general, I avoid eating fast food – but there are certain occasions when, well, you have other things to do/are on the go/are too tired and you just need fuel – now!
On one such instance, I was in sunny Greece, having just got off the plane and heading to a vacation spot by the sea.  Together with my sister we sat in a "snack bar" where I had an amazing souvlaki with pita and "everything" (meaning tzatziki, fries, and an idea of salad…).  Feeling slightly guilty, I tried to redeem myself by ordering a "chortopita", a pie with leafy greens (not just spinach) - that way, I could still say that I had vegetables ;-)
An epiphany – this pie was so delicious, I wanted more… and I actually wanted to make it home so that I could taste it again.  I find a spinach pie tends to be on the heavy side and most of the time there is plenty of feta cheese and/or cream.  This pie was light and aromatic and not fat at all – and I could actually eat the dough as well.
I set on to look for recipes on the web (thank you pinterest) and having found one, I proceeded to adapt it (as I always do…) – the end result more than pleased me and I'm happy to say I have since made it twice more to the delight of all those who taste it

Pie with leafy greens

500g spinach leaves, fresh
40g each parsley, aneth, fresh
3 leeks, white parts
1 tbsp dry sage
1 tbsp dry thyme
3 tbsp dry celery leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
100g feta cheese, crumbled

2*125g pie dough

A major change for me regarding the ingredients was their nature: I used fresh greens, and not frozen or dried.  While I would not do so for the rest of my cooking, I found that fresh really made a difference in this recipe.
Get the oven starting at 180 degrees C fan.
Wash the spinach (4 times is necessary IMHO) to get it squeaky clean. Wash the herbs and chop off any discoloured bits.  In both cases, you can choose whether you keep the stalks or not – I do, as they provide extra flavour and in any case everything will be chopped to bits… Make sure you get as much water out of all greens as possible, otherwise the pie could get soggy (I used my salad spinner for this job)
Chop everything in tiny bits – it took about 3 full loads of my kitchen robot to go through all the ingredients. Mix everything well with the oil, season and add the crumbled feta cheese if you are using it (I've made the pie both with and without the cheese, and I can't say I have a preference…)
As to the dough, I used store-bought here, but I'm finalising a recipe for home-made "peasant" pie dough – story developing…
Line a 30-cm deep baking dish with parchment paper or oil it well.  Lay one sheet of pie dough, dump the whole mix of greens and cover with the second sheet of dough.  Make tiny little holes on the top layer and bake for about 40'. Leave to cool and then simply enjoy!



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