Pies or ‘pites’ in Greek is a very popular category of food and sweets in the Greek cuisine. Pies is not an exclusive Greek dish; a number of different recipes of pies are encountered in other countries well, although the pastry or the fillings may differ.
Pies is, perhaps, one of the most characteristic food in history both the traditional and contemporary Greek cuisine. It has a long history, as the first Greek pie.
There is a sheer variety of pies in Greece, , including savory and sweet pies, pies with different kind of pastries or phyllo sheets, rich and thick pies or thin and low-calorie pies, pies with a number of different ingredients or with just one filling. Below is a non-exhaustive list with some of the most popular Greek pies.
Hortopita (green pie), Tyropita (cheese pie), Kreatopita (meat pie), Kimadopita (minced meat pie), Prasopita (leek pie), Striftopita (twisted pie of Skopelos), Kuru (thick pastry pie), Patatopita (potato pie), Rysopita (rice pie), Kolokythopita (pumpkin pie), Milopita (apple pie), Psaropita (fish pie),Galatopita (milk pie), Batzina (cheese pie).
In Thessaly (the central geographical region in Greece), the following are amongst the most popular pies:
Green pie, Cheese pie, Leek pie, Milk pie, Pumpkin pie, Rice pie, Batzina and Plastos ( both are a mixture of vegetables that “sits” on a thick porridge of corn flour and are also covered by that porridge).
Throughout the history, Thessaly – had many nomadic breeders – for whom, pies were playing an important role in their diet.
Using a small quantity of flour – which they would use to acquire by exchanging their products with the farmers – and the products that could easily be found in the nature, they were making their pies. Depending on the products they could find, sometimes vegetables or fruits and sometimes dairy or meat products, they used to cook different types of pies or alternative versions of those pies. This is why, until today, there is a great number of pie variants and pies can be even served as a main meal, accompanied by other side dishes such as yogurt.
Some kinds of pies are associated with traditions and are important part of the anniversary meals, such as those on New Year’s Eve, Sunday of Trinity, at weddings or memorial services etc.
The pies containing one or more wild greens such as spinach, ‘vlita’, nettle, poppies, are amongst the healthiest dishes of the Thessalian cuisine. Depending on their fillings, green pies present countless variations; in some of them there is the addition of feta cheese or any other Greek cheese, while some of them are a great meal during the fasting periods because they are filled with neither meat or dairy products.
Especially in the countryside, people can easily find all the necessary ingredients and herbs in their gardens and make most of those pies in short time. Please see below their ‘secret’ recipe for Hortopita or in other words the Greek green pie:
Ingredients for the filling
- 1 ½ kg chopped green and -herbs (preferably a variety of them, such as fresh spinach, turnip, fresh onions, nettles, parsley).
- ½ cup olive oil
- ‘feta’ cheese (depending on your preference)
Instructions to make the filling
- Wash, chop and drain the greens in the colander for half an hour
- Mix the greens with the salt, oil and feta
Ingredients of for the pastry
- ½ kg all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- cold water
- Mix flour, salt, olive oil into a bowl and slowly add the cold water. Start molding the mixture. Add more cold water and continue molding until the dough begins to hold together.
- Knead the dough and divide it in 10 even-sized mounds. Let the dough rest for 10 min.
- Roll out each mound with a rolling pin
- on a flat lightly floured surface roll out the mound until it is as thin as a phyllo sheet. At the end you will have 10 phyllo sheets.
- Put a phyllo on a buttered baking dish and sprinkle it with oil. Put another phyllo sheet – on top and then add a layer of the filling. On top of the filling add one phyllo sheet and repeat the same technique.
- On top of the pie put 2 phyllo sheets with oil sprinkled between the sheets.
- Sprinkle the top of the pie with oil and water.
- Score the top phyllo layers with a knife, in desired number of pieces and bake the pie for about 45 minutes in a preheated oven at 200 degrees Celsius.