THE FILLING of this delicious pie from Cephalonia is unusual. The salty taste of seafood is complemented by the fresh flavor of zucchini, tomatoes, onions and garlic. The pie needs long, slow baking so that the rice can absorb the moisture in the filling and cook. The result is unbelievable. Octopus pies, a typical Lenten dish, are also prepared on Lesbos and other islands of the Aegean, but I love this particular version because of the special fragrance the cinnamon gives it.
This is a large pie, but any leftovers keep well for about 3 days in the refrigerator or can be frozen for up to 3 months, wrapped in aluminum foil and sealed in a zipper-lock bag.
If using fresh octopus, wash it well and place in a large nonreactive pot. (The octopus releases water as it cooks, so there is no need to add any.) Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until the octopus changes color and curls up. If using frozen octopus, place it in the pot directly from the freezer and cook over low heat, turning frequently, until it curls up. Increase the heat to high and cook to evaporate the excess liquid. Add the wine, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the octopus is tender when tested with a fork. Remove from the heat. Remove the octopus from the cooking liquid (set the pot aside) and let stand until cool enough to handle. Finely chop the octopus and set it aside in its liquid.
If using salt cod, drain on paper towels, then remove any bones and skin and cut into thin strips. Sauté in the
In a large skillet, heat the
In a large bowl, combine the octopus or salt cod with the cooking liquid, the onion mixture, zucchini, tomatoes, parsley, rice, cinnamon and salt.
Barely knead 2 sheets of the puff pastry together, then roll out on a lightly floured surface. Line a 12-x-18-inch baking dish with the pastry, trimming it to a 1-inch overhang. Add the octopus or salt cod mixture, smooth the top with a spatula. Stretch the remaining sheet of puff pastry to cover the filling. Fold the overhanging bottom pastry over the top crust and pinch the edges together to seal, crimping them to make a neat cord around the edge of the pan (see illustrations). Flatten the cord with the tines of a fork to prevent it from sticking up, or it will burn during baking. With a sharp knife, cut two slashes in the top, making a cross.
Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 30 minutes, before cutting and serving.
© 2000 All rights reserved. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.