My friend Helen talked about her mother’s leek pie so often that I had to learn how to make it, but when we tried the family recipe it didn’t seem right. When Helen’s mother came for a visit, she showed us how her family had made this pie in Albania. The truth was that it was a good pie but had the potential to be a great one. Over time, something had gotten lost in translation: When Helen’s mother first came to America, she had had to substitute cottage cheese for the tart Albanian fresh cheese curds, and in making the dough, Crisco had become the layering agent. I realized how lucky we were today. We can get fresh goat cheese. We can buy filo dough for a thin and flaky crust to replace the Albanian peda, sort of a rustic puff pastry. Olive oil or butter can be used in the filo layering process.
I have made this pie with leeks, spinach, and zucchini. All are excellent. Similar versions of this pie are prepared in Greece and Turkey. For a lovely meal, serve with a salad of endive, apple, and walnuts with a walnut vinaigrette. Or assorted bitter greens, fennel, and hazelnuts.
For the filling, cut the leeks in half lengthwise and thinly slice them. Wash well in a sink full of cold water to remove the sand. Drain. (You should have about
Lightly brush a
Bring the pie to room temperature, if refrigerated.
To serve, cut into wedges with a serrated knife and eat warm; the pastry gets soggy when cold.
© 1992 Joyce Goldstein. All rights reserved.