Savory Summer Pie

Phyllo dough is the rare and elusive flower of the culinary world. It can be a little hard to track down and it requires a delicate touch to work with, but I always find the results incredibly impressive. Fortunately, this recipe is more forgiving than many that use phyllo since it doesn’t require you to brush every single layer with butter.

Greek Vegetable Feta Pie

This recipe is based on Robin Asbell’s Greek Vegetable Feta Pie from her cookbook New Vegetarian. I love the recipes in this book, but they lack a lot of the detail necessary for those who cook less often.  I hope my version makes things as simple and clear as possible.

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 large onion, medium dice

3 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2” pieces

1 bunch chard, chopped

1 medium eggplant, roasted or grilled until soft, then cooled and peeled

1/4 C. sundried tomatoes, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes

3 eggs

8 oz. crumbled feta

a handful of fresh dill, chopped

S & P

8 sheets Phyllo dough, defrosted overnight in the fridge or for 2 hours on the counter

2 Tbsp, butter, melted

olive oil spray

I think this tastes best if the eggplant is grilled rather than roasted.  The grill imparts a nice, smoky flavor to the eggplant which the oven just cannot replicate. To grill the eggplant, just place it on a medium hot grill for 15-20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes or so and allowing the skin to blacken a bit. Set aside to cool for 20 minutes before peeling away the skin. Alternatively, you can roast the eggplant whole in the oven for the 45 minutes it takes to cook the other vegetables. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and spread the diced onion on a baking sheet. Toss with 2 Tbsp. of olive oil, S & P, and bake for 20 minutes, stirring once. Now add the zucchini and toss again to distribute the oil.  Return to the oven for 15 more minutes. Now add the chopped chard and toss well.  Once again, return to the oven for 10 minutes to soften the chard.  Remove and set aside to cool and begin soaking the sundried tomatoes in the meantime.

Once everything is cool enough to handle, mix together the roasted vegetables, chopped sundried tomatoes, eggs, feta and dill. Add a little S & P, too.

Prepare a 10” pie pan by brushing it with half of the melted butter. Carefully unwrap the phyllo, unrolling it onto the counter. Gently pull 8 sheets of it off the top of the pile and set aside (do not fold), covering with a damp towel.  Roll the rest of the phyllo back up, wrapping in plastic, and freeze for another use.

Lay five sheets of phyllo, one at a time, into the pie pan.  Let each one overhang the edge by 4 or 5 inches. Keep the remaining dough covered with the damp towel as you work. After each layer, spray generously with the olive oil spray to moistened the dough. Otherwise it will become brittle and break.  Continue to add layers around the pan so that the dough is hanging over the rim of the whole pie pan.

Now pour your filling into the pan and spread into an even layer. Place the remaining 3 sheets, again one at a time, on top of the filling.  Be sure to spray them each well with the olive oil spray as you layer. You will have to fold or scrunch them to get them to fit.

Lastly, fold the overhanging pieces up and onto the pie, enclosing all of the filling inside.  As you fold each section over, be sure to spray what was its underside so that the next piece to be folded up will stick to it.  Once the pie is neatly tucked inside the pan, brush with the remaining 1 Tbsp. butter.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, rotating as necessary to ensure even browning.  If the pie is too brown after 20-25 minutes, cover loosely with foil for the remaining 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool for 30 minutes.  I think for slicing, it is easiest to turn the pie upside down onto a cutting board.  The bottom of the pie is more moist and will slice more easily.  Then you can flip the slices over back into the pan or onto plates for service.

This rich dish would be delicious served with a peppery arugula salad.

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