I used to make filo by stretching it out thinly like strudel dough, until I read Wild Weed Pie by famed Greek expat and one-time Sydney chef Janni Kyritsis. I’ve used his method for this, which is slightly sturdier, perfect for taking on a picnic. If you can’t get hold of nettles, substitute silverbeet or a mix of greens. We find eating nettles is a good way to clean up the paddocks.
- 5 cups young nettles (see Note) or 2 bunches silverbeet, stems removed
- 1 leek, white part only, washed, thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- ⅓ cup dill, roughly chopped
- 200 g ricotta
- 100 g feta, chopped
- 4 eggs
- lemon wedges, to serve
- 500 g (3⅓ cups) plain flour
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, to brush
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.
Chilling time 1 hour
You will need 4 x 18 cm round pans for this recipe. Alternatively, use an ovenproof frying pan or round baking dish, and bake the pies, one at a time.
To make filo, combine flour, egg, 225 ml warm water and 1 tsp salt until a dough forms. Knead for about 4 minutes or until smooth. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, rinse nettles and place in a large saucepan over low heat. Cover and cook for 4 minutes or until wilted. Drain, allow to cool, then squeeze to remove excess liquid.
Fry leek in oil over medium heat for 4 minutes or until soft but not brown. Place in a bowl with nettles, dill, ricotta and feta, then season with salt and pepper. Combine, then stir in the eggs.
Divide dough into 2 pieces. Using a floured rolling pin, roll out one half on a floured work surface to a 40 cm x 60 cm rectangle. Cut into 8 squares, brush each with oil on one side, then stack on top of one another, ensuring the top of the stack is floured, not oiled. Roll out pastry stack to a 40 cm square, then cut into 4 x 20 cm rounds, using a small plate as a guide. Repeat process with remaining dough to make another 4 x 20 cm rounds.
Preheat oven to 220°C. Line 4 x 18 cm round pans or similar with baking paper, then line each with 1 pastry round. Place one-quarter of the nettle filling in the middle of each pie base and spread out evenly, leaving a 2 cm border around the edge. Fold up the edge so that it partially covers the filling, and brush the pastry edge with a little water to moisten.
Lay the remaining rounds of pastry on top of each pie and arrange so that they crinkle up in the middle, but can be sealed to the bottom pastry layer. Press to seal, then brush the top generously with more olive oil.
Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Remove from pan and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Slice pies and serve at room temperature with fresh lemon wedges for squeezing over.
• Young nettles are from selected greengrocers.
Photography by Alan Benson.