HORTOPITA – GREEK JEWISH SAVOURY PIE WITH A CREAMY DILL SAUCE

Delicate filo pastry filled with fresh herbs, greens and cheese. The recipe hails from the Jewish community of Ioannina in the North of Greece, where cooks would forage wild greens for the filling, and lovingly make their own filo pastry.

It can be served as one large dramatic pie, six spirals, or as several small triangles to serve with drinks. Once formed and filled, the hortopita can be frozen or chilled overnight, tightly covered with clingfilm.

Serves: 6-8
Keeps: 1 day (ready to bake)
Freeze: 3 months (ready to bake)

Per serving: 300 cals, 35 g carbs

FOR THE CREAMY DILL SAUCE
225 g (8 oz) Greek yoghurt
1⁄2 a finely diced cucumber
2 tsp finely chopped dill
1⁄2 tsp salt
1 clove crushed garlic
8 grinds of black pepper

FOR THE PIE
2 bunches spring onions
900 g (2 lb ) Swiss chard, leaves, or 500 g (1 lb) baby spinach
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 large eggs
3 tbsp finely chopped dill
1⁄2 tsp fine sea salt
20 grinds of black pepper
1⁄2 tsp ground or grated nutmeg
225 g (8 oz) crumbled feta or Lancashire cheese
12 sheets (about 350 g) filo pastry
olive oil
2-3 tbsp sesame or nigella seeds

Mix the sauce ingredients together and chill.

To make the hortopita, trim and thinly slice the spring onions. Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan and cook the white part of the spring onions with a pinch of salt for 3 minutes until golden.

Rainbow Chard – a nutritional powerhouse

Finely chop the chard or spinach, add to the pan and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Whisk the eggs and seasonings in a large bowl, then add the green part of the spring onions, cheese, and the contents of the pan. Mix well.

Count out 8 sheets of filo pastry and return the rest to the packet. Quickly cover the 8 sheets with a cloth so they don’t dry out. To make one large pie, lightly oil a 25mm (10”) pie dish or tin.

Brush or spray the first sheet of filo lightly with oil then lay it in the dish with the edges overhanging the sides. Oil another sheet in the same way and lay it on top at a right angle. Repeat with the remaining sheets. Spoon the filling into the centre then bring the overhanging pastry in, pleating it slightly, to partially cover the filling.

To make 6 spirals, oil and layer 8 sheets of filo in a neat rectangle on a board with the long edge facing you. Cut your 8-layer stack into 6 horizontal strips. Spread a band of filling along the length of each strip, leaving about 3 cm (1”) along the nearest edge of pastry clear of filling, then roll up into a tight cylinder and coil into a spiral. Transfer your 6 spirals to an oiled baking sheet.

To make 12 triangles, oil, layer and cut the filo into 6 strips as for spirals. Cut each strip in half vertically so you now have 12 shorter strips. Place a tablespoon of filling at the end of each, then fold into triangles. Transfer your triangles to an oiled baking sheet.

To bake all shapes: preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas 6. Lightly brush or spray the top of the pastry with oil then sprinkle with the seeds. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a rich golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack so the bottom stays crisp. Serve warm with the sauce.

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