This traditional recipe from the island of Ikaria combines flaky, golden pastry with a tender filling of greens, onions, leeks, and squash or carrots. Packed with nutrients as well as flavour!
- 2large carrots, or the equivalent of pumpkin or butternut squash
- ¾ cup extra virgin Greek olive oil
- 750 g mixed raw sweet greens (such as spinach, sweet sorrel, sweet dandelion, Swiss chard, chervil)
- 1 fennel bulb, finely chopped
- 3 red onions, finely chopped
- 2 leeks, finely chopped
- 4 spring onions (scallions), finely sliced
- 450 g (1 lb) filo pastry
- 1½ cups chopped fresh herbs (such as mint, parsley, fresh oregano, marjoram, savory, dill, fennel fronds)
- salt and pepper, to taste
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
If using pumpkin or butternut squash in place of carrots, you'll need to allow an hour ahead of time for the salting and draining.
1. If using grated pumpkin or butternut squash, place in a colander and salt lightly. Knead in the colander, squeezing out as much water as possible. Let stand for an hour to drain. You can opt to drain even further by transferring the grated pumpkin or butternut squash to a cheesecloth and wringing all the excel liquid out. Set aside until ready to use.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan or wide pot and add the greens in batches. Season with a little salt and pepper, and stir and cook until wilted and all the liquid is cooked off, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat, transfer to a colander, and drain thoroughly. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
3. In the same frying pan or wide pot, add another 2 tablespoons of olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add the fennel, onions, leeks, and scallions and cook over medium heat until wilted and translucent, about 10 minutes. Transfer to the same mixing bowl as the greens.
4. Add the grated carrot, pumpkin or butternut squash to the frying pan or wide pot and cook over medium heat to wilt, about 8 minutes. Transfer to the mixing bowl and combine well. Season the filling mixture with salt and pepper, to taste.
5. Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F). Lightly oil two baking sheets, or line them with parchment.
6. To prepare the filo pastry, on a clean work surface, unfold the filo dough in front of you horizontally and cover with a kitchen towel and then a damp towel on top. You have to work fast, especially if the kitchen is hot.
7. Take one sheet of the pastry and brush it with olive oil. Take a second sheet and stack it on top, brushing that with olive oil, too. Cut the filo into 3 or 4 equal size strips, 7½-10cm (3-4 inches) wide, as desired.
8. Take a heaped teaspoon of the filling and spread it across the bottom of each strip. Fold in the sides and roll up to form cylinders. Place seam-side-down on an oiled or parchment-lined baking sheet. Continue until all the filling and filo are used. Brush the surface of each cylinder with a little olive oil.
8. Place one strip on top of the other, oiling both, as above. Place a heaped teaspoon of the filling in the center bottom end of the double strip, about 1.25cm (½ inch) from the edge. Take the right or left-hand corner (whichever suits you more comfortably) and bring it up to the opposite side to form a triangle. Fold over across the width, then repeat from the opposite direction, continuing this way until you reach the top edge, the same way one folds a flag. Place seam-side down on a baking sheet and brush the top with olive oil.
9. Bake the pastries for about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, cool slightly, and serve.
You can prepare the cylinders or triangles and freeze them, well-covered, then bake them directly from the freezer to the oven.