The first element to consider in any Greek pie is the pastry – in this case, homemade phyllo pastry. It is often refered to as horiatiko phyllo, village phyllo, and is generally thicker than the machine-made store bought stuff. Pie fillings vary, but a popular one is based on seasonal greens. Here – as an example – I’ve made little pies (pitakia) with tsigarista, a winter dish of sautéed wild greens. It really doesn’t matter what you fill your little pies with, this post is primarily about the homemade phyllo!
When making Phyllo for a sweet pie, a teaspoon or two of sugar is added with the flour.
- 1kg flour
- pinch salt
- 30ml red wine vinegar
- 60ml olive oil
- Up to 500ml water
Place the flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the vinegar and oil. Begin to mix with your hand, adding water a little at a time, all the while mixing and kneading. Keep adding water until you have a soft texture and it no longer sticks to your hand. Knead a bit more on a clean dry surface until a smooth ball forms. Cover and let rest for a minimum of 10 minutes up to a few hours.
To make the phyllo sheet, cut the dough in quarters. Take one quarter and roll out very thin – as thin as possible – on a floured surface. Thickness depends on what you want to make as savoury dishes tend use slightly thicker phyllo. A good technique is to keep the dough floured and wrap it around the rolling pin while stretching it along the length of the pin. This is why the traditional Greek tool for phyllo making is a long thin dowel. Continue rolling it by unwinding it. This process can be repeated for as many times as necessary.
Cut the phyllo into wide strips (4 to 5cm) and then squares. They can be cut larger if you like, but these are designed for quick snacks or for one of a selection of meze platters.
Place a small amount of your filling (tsigarista in this case) in the centre, fold the four corners and pinch shut. Note: the filling should not be too wet – drain if necessary.
Fry the pitakia in olive oil in a shallow pan until golden. Drain on paper towels and serve warm or room temperature.