Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Kolokythopita (Squash Pie) Two Ways

Winter squash is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium and carotene

Although I cherish the traditional Greek recipes of my mother, grandmothers and aunts and incorporate them daily into my family’s diet, I enjoy reading up on recipes from different islands and areas of Greece as dishes can change dramatically from city to city, island to island. One of my favorite sources for island recipes is Aglaia Kremezi’s The Foods of the Greek Islands – Cooking and Culture at the Crossroads of the Mediterranean. For the last seven years, I thumb through the pages every now and then to get a fresh perspective on traditional dishes from the islands of the Dodecanese, the Ionian, the Cyclades, Crete and Cyprus. Kremezi, a photojournalist and food columnist, includes great recipes for appetizers, pies, vegetables, breads, meat, poultry, seafood and dessert and complements each with anecdotes of her trips to the islands to obtain the recipes and info on the origin of each dish.

When I saw Ivy’s Savory Pies event over at Kopiaste I decided to take the traditional route and put together a kolokythopita, one of my favorite of all the Greek “pites.” Of course, a kolokythopita can take on many forms and flavors – I’ve always made it savory using summer squash (like zucchini) or any winter squash (usually butternut or acorn) combined with feta, onion, eggs and different herbs. In her book, Kremezi features one such kolokythopita in which she uses pumpkin, fennel, onion, bulgur and feta highlighting that this is a typical dish found across the island of Chios. I tweaked the recipe here using short grain rice as opposed to bulgur and Carnival squash as opposed to pumpkin. It turned out to be a hearty pie and with a side of salad or a bowl of soup, could be turned into a meal in and of itself.

But one pie this week just wasn’t enough … Kremezi also discusses a variation of the kolokythopita made in certain villages on Chios that uses cinnamon and sugar to complement the pumpkin. I set out to replicate this sweeter version of the kolokythopita as I find cinnamon and sugar to go amazingly well with winter squash. You'll find my recipe below.

Kali Orexi!

Kolokythopita with Fennel
Adapted from The Foods of the Greek Islands

1 Carnival Squash (or any other winter squash), peeled and diced
1/3 cup olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and finely chopped
1/3 cup short grain rice
½ cup chopped fennel fronds, or dill
1 ½ cups crumbled feta
2/3 cup grated pecorino Romano
Salt and pepper to taste
1 recipe Cretan Phyllo (recipe to follow)

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and sauté the onions until soft. Add the squash and fennel and increase the heat to high and cook until squash is softened. Throw in the rice, salt and pepper and cook for a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat and add the chopped fennel fronds or dill, cover and let stand for 15 minutes or so.
Stir the feta and pecorino Romano into the filling mixture.
Roll out the phyllo to overhang a well oiled 13x9 inch rectangular baking pan and carefully layer it into the bottom. Add the filling. Roll out remaining phyllo and fit to the top of the filling, trimming the sides as necessary and pinching it closed with the bottom layer. Brush the top of the pie with milk or sprinkle with water and bake in a 350F degree oven until golden.

Cretan Phyllo
From The Foods of the Greek Islands

3 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
½ cup vodka
½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup olive oil
About 2/3 cup water

Place the flour and salt in a food processor and pulse until combined. With the motor running add the vodka, lemon juice, and oil. Then add just enough water to make a soft dough. Let rest in processor for 15 minutes. Process for a minute longer or until it seems elastic. Let rest again in the food processor for 20 minutes or so.
On a lightly floured surface knead the dough briefly until it is smooth. Divide the dough according to your recipe (cover remaining dough with plastic wrap while rolling out the other).
**This dough is also great when used to fry individual pies (bourekia) as it takes on the texture of a rustic puff pastry.

Glykia Kolokythopita

1 Acorn squash, peeled and grated
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
½ cup short grain rice
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup grated Myzithra cheese
2 teaspoons cinnamon
6 sheets ready-made phyllo

Combine grated squash, sugars, rice, oil, cheese and cinnamon. Oil a 9-inch pie dish.
Lay out phyllo and layer first sheet into pie dish so that nearly half over hangs one side. Brush phyllo with oil and layer next sheet overhanging the opposite side of the pie dish and brushing with oil before continuing with the remaining 4 sheets (alternating which sides of the pie dish the phyllo overhang). Fill phyllo with squash filling and begin turning down the layers that overhang the dish, oiling each layer as you go.
Bake in a 350 degree oven until golden.


Ivy said...

Maria, thanks very much for your participation. Kolokythopita is fantastic and like Chiotes we also add cinnamon to our Kolokotes. Aglaia Kremizi is fantastic. Did you know that she has cooking classes in Kea? My friend Val speaks about her all the time. When you come to Greece we should attend her classes.

Peter G said...

I've only ever indulged in the sweet version of "kolokythopita"...my mother also adds currants to it...highly addictive! Great entry into the savoury pie event Maria!

Peter M said...

Ahhh, the cooler weather is here and that means baking and pittes galore!

I love both the savory and sweet versions here...fennel with squash is a great combo.

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

That pie looks fantastic! I just love squash and I am pretty sure I have never had it in a pie before. I think I must! :)

Lulu Barbarian said...

Lovely recipes, Maria! I'm so glad Ivy posted about you! Welcome to the food-o-sphere!

Bellini Valli said...

Aglaia Kremezei and her husband Costa Moraitis run Keartisinal Cookin School at their island home on Kea. It was the best 8 days of my life so far!!!!!Her new book is coming out in the Spring.Her cooking style is to use what is available in her extensive gardens:D

Lore said...

I love all kind of pitas and this one sounds delicious! Wish I could taste it

Maria said...

Ivy, I will definitely take you up on that offer.
Peter, between you and me the sweet version was also my favorite of the two.
Peter, tell me about it, the minute September rolled in I was ready to turn that oven on and put it to work!
Jenn, thanks so much for visiting! Winter squash is great and it's pretty versatile.
Lulu, thank you for your warm welcome!
Val, I look forward to visiting Kremezi's cooking school some day.
Lore, pites are great especially in cool weather.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.