Sunday, August 19, 2012

Greek Vegetable Pies

Just about every country makes and filled pastry that is either baked or fried, sweet or savory.  In Latin American countries it’s called an empanadas, in the Caribbean specifically Jamaica it's called a pattie, in Ireland there called pasties.

This year’s CSA share yielded a bounty of fresh braising greens like Tuscan kale and Swiss chard.  Although I typically sauté braising greens with a little olive oil and garlic, I‘ve had to come up with another option in order to manage the amount of vegetables I’m getting. Since I am a resident of Astoria, once home to the largest Greek population outside of Greece, feta, myzithra and kefalotyri cheese are easy to find.  I am never without at least one of these cheeses in my refrigerator.  Greeks refer to their closed pies as pites or pita.   They are filled with meat or whatever vegetables are in season. The dough is often a phyllo or pie dough often made with olive oil.  I have made my version of these pites that I think you will enjoy. 

  cup all purpose unbleached flour
½  cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 tablespoons flax meal
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup olive oil
½ cup beer

Add first five ingredients to a food processer.
Pulse a few times to incorporate the ingredients
While processor is turning, add olive oil and beer until dough forms a ball.
Remove from the processor, let rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

2 bunches Swiss Chard/Braising Greens*
1 large onion, small diced
½-cup small dices fennel
2 cloves chopped garlic
½+½ Salt
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons Olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon chopped oregano
¾ cup crumbled feta cheese
¼ cup myzithra, kefalotyri, or romano cheese
1  egg scrambled- egg wash

Clean Swiss chard by separating the leaves from the stem.  Wash the leaves at lease twice in a bowl of cold water (changing the water after each wash) until the water has no trace of sand at the bottom. Once the leaves are cleaned, cut them about ½” wide. Although you don’t have to use all of the stems, I like putting some in for varied texture.
See note about Swiss chard stems**
Set aside once  cleaned and cut .

In a large sauté pan heat 1-tablespoon olive oil; add onions, ½ teaspoon salt and fennel, cook until onions and fennel are soft; onions may become slightly brown about 10 minutes at medium heat.
Add garlic, Swiss chard stems and red pepper flakes, cook for about 7 minutes more.
Set aside allow to cool
In a clean pan heat 1-tablespoon olive oil, add Swiss chard leaves.  Cover and cook greens until they become tender—about 10 minutes.  If greens give off some liquid place them in a colander, pressing out excess liquid and allow them to cool.
Once all hot ingredients are cool, place them in a large bowl; add remaining ingredients; gently toss until well combined.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to about 1/8” thick; cut dough into rounds about 4 ½ “ in diameter.
Fill dough with about ½ cut of filling.
Brush the outer edge of the dough with the egg wash.
Fold the dough over the filling to form a half circle.  Crimp edges with a fork.

 Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or sprayed with a cooking spray
Brush the tops with egg wash
Bake at 375F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from sheet pan allow to cool on a cooling rack.

*I write this recipe based on the use of Swiss chard.  If you are using other greens ie Kale, Collards, Mustards or  Beet greens the cooking time will be longer and you’’ll need to add a little water to the pan when cooking these greens.
** If the Swiss chard stem are tender you can just wash them the same way as the leaves and cut them crosswise about 1/8” wide.  If the stems are a bit thick, the outer membrane will need to peeled before you cut them. 

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