Before the winter greens are gone from our Athens market, I though I would try my hand at a pita from Epirus. I talked about it in a previous post that I wrote after just returning from our holiday up north in the Greek mountainous region of Zagoria. Zagoria, as you may know, is famous for its pitas.
Winter greens I used: 1. Spring Onions (φρέσκα κρεμμυδάκια), 2. Wild chard (σέσκουλα), 3. Spinach (σπανάκι), 4. Leeks (πράσο), 5. Dill (άνηθος), 6. Wild Sorrel or Dock – the Rumex family (λάπατα) and 7. Wild hartwort (καυκαλήθρες)
Of course, the pita filling can be made with just spinach or with a combination of spinach and other greens, but not bitter ones like chicories. Summer greens can also be added – like kolokythokarftédes (courgette greens). It is adaptable and can be enjoyed year round.
The most time consuming part of this recipe is cleaning, chopping and cooking the greens. I double or triple the greens mixture and freeze them in containers for future pita making use – either as blatsaria or a more conventional phyllo one, or even in little phyllo triangles.
For the greens filling
- 400g mixture of Greens (chard, sorrel, nettles, courgette greens, etc.)
- 350g spinach
- 1 leek
- 2 fat spring onions
- small bunch of dill
- 50ml olive oil
- salt and pepper
Clean and finely chop all of the greens and spinach. Chop the onions and leeks. And, chop the dill, keeping it separate from the greens. In a large pot, sauté the spring onion and leeks in hot oil first for about 5 minutes, until beginning to soften. Add the greens and spinach. After about 10 minutes, stirring periodically, the greens will begin to darken. Add the dill, salt and pepper. Stir and sauté for about 30 minutes. Tip the mixture into a colander and let it drain.
While the greens drain, pre-heat your oven to 175 degrees C. and make up the corn meal “phyllo”.
For the corn meal crust & assembly
- 350g corn meal
- 200g Greek yoghurt
- 1 egg
- 80ml + 50ml olive oil
- warm water (approximate measurements)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 60g bulgar wheat, optional
Mix the corn meal, yoghurt, 80ml olive oil, about 50ml water and salt in a bowl to get a stiff dough. Take about half and spread it out in a baking pan (rectangular – about 15 x 13cm – or equivalent circular one). Smooth it out with oiled hands until it is very thin and inches up the sides a little.
To make up the pita, place the greens evenly on top of the bottom crust. Sprinkle with the bulgar wheat if the filling is still has a bit of liquid. The bulgar prevents a soggy pita by soaking up any excess liquids produced by the greens. Some recipes use rice for the same effect and others the more traditional trachana – a dried wheat product fermented with dairy (sour milk or yoghurt).
With the remainder of the dough, add about 100ml more warm water to get a smooth spoonable batter. Spoon this corn batter over the top of the greens until they are all covered. Take the remaining 50ml of olive oil and 50 ml of water and mix in a bowl. Flick this over the top of the pita.
Bake in oven for about 40 to 45 minutes until the crust browns.
Cut into pieces and serve.