Melissa’s greek zucchini pie

My very good friend Melissa F. from New York loves this pie, a summer regular on my family table.
She now knows how to prepare it and serves it to her globe-trotter friends every summer in her lovely Mykonos cottage , where she cultivates most of the summer vegetables herself.
Therefore, I would like to dedicate this recipe to my dear friend if only because of the enthusiastic messages I receive whenever she cooks it, either in Mykonos or in New York.

Melissa’s greek “Kolokithopita”

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(Greek Zucchini pie with feta and mint)

Ingredients:
(to feed a crowd, i.e twelve nice , hefty squares!)

  • A handful of feta cheese
  • A handful of hard yellow cheese (kefalograviera or graviera – the greek tasty gruyere)
  • 2-3 eggs (preferably organic, beaten lightly)
  • 10 small/medium zucchinis (or 6 bigger ones)
  • 2 small onions chopped
  • 4 scallions finely chopped
  • A good bunch of fresh spearmint, finely chopped
  • A handful of dill or fennel (fresh or dried)
  • Salt , pepper
  • Olive oil
  • A packet of fyllo pastry

Preparation:

Choose a high quality Greek feta (the varieties from the greek regions of Parnassus, Tripoli or Cephalonia are all peppery and tangy). Place the feta in a large bowl and break it into pieces with your fingers.

Grate some spicy yellow cheese (typically, a kefalograviera or a combination of Greek mature gruyere from the islands of Crete, Naxos or Tinos or some pecorino from Amphilochia) and mix with the feta. Use equal parts of feta and yellow cheeses (at least 2 big handfuls in total) and mix the two.

Add the eggs into the cheese mixture.

Add the finely chopped spearmint, some dill or fennel, lots of freshly ground black pepper and about 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil.

Grate the zucchinis, using the side with the largest holes of the box grater and then salt them. Leave to drain for 10 minutes and then squeeze them between your palms or squeeze them in a clean kitchen towel to get rid of excess water. This , the elimination of the vegetables’ excess water is that makes the pie crispy instead of soggy, so …squeeze hard!

Chop the onions and scallions and sauté them over high heat with some olive oil until they begin to turn into a light brown color. Add the zucchinis (making once more sure the extra moist is gone) and keep sautéing for another 5 to 10 minutes to further dry them.

Remove from heat and allow to slightly cool.

Combine them with the cheese and herbs mixture.

Layer 4  fyllo sheets , lightly brushed with olive oil, on the bottom of a baking pan, top them with half the filling, add 1 more fyllo with no oil, and top it with the rest of the filling.

Finish off with 4 more well-oiled fyllo sheets. Brush the top of the pie some more olive oil and sprinkle with sesame or pumpkin seeds or both.

This pita is supposed to be thin; you need to use a large baking pan for the zucchini filling to bake well.

Using a sharp knife mark big or small squares on the surface.

Bake at 150C for an hour, then an extra 30 minutes at 180C.

Let the pita slightly cool , cut and serve.

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