Hortopites ton Kythiron

Zucchini and Eggplant Country Pies from Kythera

THE MIXED-VEGETABLE pies of Kythera, which are closely related to dishes like Spanish empanadas and Italian tortas that are found in many versions all around the Mediterranean, offer the ideal balance of crust and filling. Eleni Georgiou-Kalligerou, who gave me her recipe for this bread-like crust, said that she always prepares more dough than she needs for the pies, so she can make the remainder into a flatbread, which she drizzles with olive oil and sprinkles with coarse sea salt while still warm.

Country pies can be eaten warm or cold, making them ideal for picnics. They can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. If you want to serve them hot, just reheat them in a 350°F oven for 15 to 20 minutes or for about 30 minutes for frozen pies.

Read more

Ingredients

Crust

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • cup olive oil
  • 1⅔–2 cups warm water
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt

Filling

  • 1 pound zucchini (4–5 medium), grated
  • 1 large eggplant, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
  • Coarse sea salt or kosher salt
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 3 cups chopped onions
  • 3 ripe tomatoes, cored, peeled and diced, or cups canned diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1–2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper or ½–1 teaspoon (or to taste) crushed red pepper flakes
  • cup coarse or fine bulgur (see Sources)
  • cups grated hard myzithra, kefalotyri or pecorino Romano cheese
  • 3 large eggs
  • Cornmeal
  • About 3 tablespoons milk

Method

Make the Crust

Place the flours and yeast in a food processor. Mix for a few seconds to combine, then add the oil and 1 cup of the water and mix for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the salt and more water as needed to make a soft dough.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 6 to 8 minutes with lightly oiled hands, until smooth and elastic. Shape the dough into a ball. Oil a large bowl and place the dough in it, turning to coat on all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot for 1½ to 2 hours, or until doubled in volume. (You can also refrigerate the dough overnight, but allow it to rise at room temperature for 2 hours before proceeding.)

Make the Filling

Place the zucchini and eggplant in separate colanders, salt them generously and let drain in the sink (or on two plates) for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.

In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil and sauté the onions over medium heat until translucent, about 10 minutes. Squeeze out the excess liquid from the zucchini and eggplant with your hands and add them to the skillet. Increase the heat to high and sauté until most of the liquid has evaporated, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes and 1 teaspoon of the pepper or ½ teaspoon of the pepper flakes, and cook for about 2 minutes more; the mixture should still be wet. Add the bulgur, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. (You can prepare the filling to this point up to 2 days in advance; cover and refrigerate.)

Add the cheese to the filling, taste and adjust the seasonings. Break the eggs into a small bowl, reserving a tablespoon or so of egg white in a small cup. Add the eggs to the filling and stir to combine.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Oil large baking sheets and sprinkle them lightly with cornmeal.

Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and divide it into 16 pieces. Cover all but 1 piece with plastic wrap. Sprinkle the piece of dough with flour and flatten it with your hands. With a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough into a 7-inch round. (It doesn’t matter if it’s not a perfect circle.)

Spread about 3 tablespoons of the filling on one side of the dough round, leaving a 1-inch border. Fold the dough over to cover the filling and press the edges together with a fork to seal. Place on the prepared baking sheet and repeat with the remaining dough and filling.

Mix the reserved egg white with the milk and brush on the pies. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool on a rack, then serve warm or at room temperature.

In this section

,