Courtesy Katerina Xekalou, Proprietor/Chef, Avli
The tireless Xekalou has transformed culinary culture on Crete at her acclaimed restaurant, Avli, and has taken a role in the global promotion of the island’s cuisine and products. The following recipes are based on traditional Cretan dishes and adapted for the home cook.
- 4 medium onions, fine-chopped
- 1 cup olive oil
- 2¼ pounds spinach, chopped
- 3 bunches flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
- 1 bunch dill, roughly chopped
- 14 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 6 eggs, beaten
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 12 sheets phyllo dough
Heat oven to 400˚F.
In large sauté pan over medium heat, sweat onions in ½ cup olive oil until translucent. Add spinach, parsley and dill. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Allow to cool, then mix in feta cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Beat eggs and incorporate into greens and feta mixture. (Note: Filling can be prepared a day in advance.)
In small pot over low heat, combine remaining ½ cup of oil and butter. Heat just until butter melts and mix well.
Layer bottom of baking pan with 1 sheet phyllo dough. Layer with two more sheets on top of first, lightly brushing each with oil/butter mixture. Top with one-third of greens mixture. Repeat with remaining phyllo dough and greens, finishing with three sheets of phyllo dough on top. Brush with oil/butter mixture, and tuck dough edges inside. Cut pie in strips before baking.
Bake 1 hour, or until top layer turns golden brown. Serves 8.
For best results with phyllo dough, move from freezer to refrigerator the night before use. Allow to rest on counter for one hour before unrolling for layering. Work quickly to avoid drying out, and cover sheets with damp paper towel before use. Be sure to brush butter/oil mixture on every sheet of dough you are using.
This pie can be also be made with chickpeas, leeks and onions.