Winter squash is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium and carotene
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.
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.
From The Foods of the Greek Islands
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.
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.