Project Food Blog Challenge #4: Gluten-Free Hortopita (Kale and Feta Pie)

I’m excited (and more than a tad nervous) that I’ve advanced to challenge #4 in Project Food Blog. Why nervous? Because even though this is a friendly competition among food bloggers who enjoy and support one another, it is still a competition. That said, I am honored to still be standing, and I’m so very appreciative of all of your votes. Read on for my challenge #4 photo tutorial entry below; if you like it, you can cast your vote here!

Not knowing if I’d advance (but of course hoping that I would), I agonized over this challenge all week. I wanted to create a tutorial of something interesting…something rather difficult..something that truly warrants step-by-step instructions.

Seriously: I agonized. I even made and photographed 2 other recipes (but didn’t end up using them; look for homemade mozzarella cheese and tea smoked fish on my blog sometime in the near future).

I finally settled on an adaptation of this hortopita recipe from the Greece issue of Saveur magazine. Hortopita is a savory vegetable pie: it’s like spanikopita, but it features wild greens instead of spinach.

You could certainly go the wild greens route (I’m planning to try this again with dandelion greens next Spring), or you can use mustard greens, chard, collard greens, or kale (or a mixture of these).

I chose to use kale, and the filling is also heavy on scallions, garlic, herbs, and feta cheese. It’s an intensely flavorful and nutritious combination.

Why did I choose this recipe? Because it’s been on my mind for a couple of months. I love anything that involves phyllo dough but I’ve never cooked or baked with the store-bought version, let alone made my own.

I could have followed the Saveur phyllo dough recipe and called it a day (and that probably would have been challenging enough). But since I do my best to keep things on this blog gluten-free, I took a stab at gluten-free phyllo dough.

A google search helped me find this gluten-free phyllo dough recipe, which I proceeded to tinker with a bit. I used my favorite gluten-free baking mix (courtesy of Shauna and Danny)…

…and added some olive oil and vodka.

I don’t think it’s possible to achieve paper-thin phyllo dough using gluten-free ingredients. If you aren’t gluten-free, I’d give the Saveur recipe a try, or you can use a store-bought phyllo dough. Most commercially available phyllo doughs are extremely thin, so use two layers for every one in this recipe. I baked my hortopita in a rectangular pan approximately 7 x 10 inches because that’s what fit my phyllo layers best. If you are using homemade “gluten-full” (or store-bought phyllo), you’ll probably want to use a 9 x 13 inch pan.

Here’s how I made my gluten-free hortopita (note that a printable version of the recipe with exact amounts of the ingredients is below the photo tutorial):

1. In a small bowl, whisk together milk and eggs.

2. Transfer to bowl of a stand mixer, and add 3 1/2 cups of Ahern AP flour, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the optional vodka. Mix with dough hook, adding up to 1 more cup of flour, until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky.

3. Divide into 6 balls.

4. Cover with a damp towel and allow to rest for 30 minutes.

5. Sprinkle your rolling surface generously with corn starch, and start to roll out a dough ball using a thin rod or dowel (I used my paper towel holder; make sure to rub cornstarch over your dowel, as well).

The dough will be sticky, so don’t be afraid to use lots of cornstarch. I repeat: don’t be afraid to use lots of cornstarch. Don’t be too concerned if the dough does no stay in one piece…this is ok…you’ll be able to piece it together when you compile the pie.

7. Oil your pan with two tablespoons of olive oil and lay the rolled out piece of dough in the bottom of your pan…

…and then proceed with the greens.

8. Heat 1/2 cup olive oil in a pot over medium-high heat (I used my largest wok). Add scallions and garlic.

Cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Add kale and herbs, reduce heat, and cook over low-medium until very tender, about 15 minutes. Season with pepper (I don’t think salt is needed as the feta provides plenty). Cool slightly and stir in the feta.

Spread 1/3 of the greens over the first layer of dough.

9. Heat oven to 400°F. Roll out two more dough balls and transfer carefully to a baking sheet.

Bake until golden, 5-8 minutes. Allow to cool slightly and place 1 baked sheet on top of the greens…

…then cover with 1/2 of the remaining greens.

Top with remaining baked sheet…

…and then add the rest of the greens.

10. Roll out 2 remaining balls. Cover greens with 1 sheet and brush with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

11. Top with remaining phyllo sheet and brush with 1 tablespoon oil.

Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° and bake until golden brown, another 20 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

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Gluten-Free Hortopita

gluten-free phyllo dough adapted from this recipe; hortopita filling and procedure adapted from Saveur Magazine

Ingredients

  • *4 to 4 1/2 cups Ahern AP flour
  • *2 eggs preferably organic and free-range
  • *1 cup milk I used raw milk
  • *2 tablespoons olive oil
  • *1 tablespoon vodka-optional
  • *1/2 cup olive oil plus more for brushing the layers of dough
  • *16 scallions thinly sliced
  • *6 cloves garlic minced
  • *2 large bunches of kale tough stems removed and chopped
  • *1 cup parsley roughly chopped
  • *1 cup mint roughly chopped
  • *1 cup dill roughly chopped
  • *12 oz. feta cheese
  • *fresh ground pepper

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, whisk together milk and eggs. Transfer to bowl of a stand mixer, and add 3 1/2 cups of Ahern AP flour, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the optional vodka. Mix with dough hook, adding up to 1 more cup of flour, until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky.
  • Divide into 6 balls and cover with a damp towel. Allow to rest for 30 minutes.
  • Sprinkle your rolling surface generously with corn starch. Start to roll out a dough ball using a thin rod or dowel (I used my paper towel holder; make sure to rub cornstarch over your dowel, as well). The dough will be sticky, so don't be afraid to use lots of cornstarch. I repeat: don't be afraid to use lots of cornstarch. Don't be too concerned if the dough does no stay in one piece...this is ok...you'll be able to piece it together when you compile the pie.
  • Oil your pan with two tablespoons of olive oil and lay the rolled out piece of dough in the bottom of your pan, and then proceed with the greens.
  • Heat 1/2 cup olive oil in a pot over medium-high heat (I used my largest wok). Add scallions and garlic.
  • Cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Add kale and herbs, reduce heat, and cook over low-medium until very tender, about 15 minutes. Season with pepper (I don't think salt is needed as the feta provides plenty). Cool slightly and stir in the feta.
  • Spread 1/3 of the greens over the first layer of dough.
  • Heat oven to 400°F. Roll out two more dough balls and transfer carefully to a baking sheet.
  • Bake until golden, 5-8 minutes. Allow to cool slightly and place 1 baked sheet on top of the greens, and then cover with 1/2 of the remaining greens.
  • Top with remaining baked sheet, and then add the rest of the greens.
  • Roll out 2 remaining balls. Cover greens with 1 sheet and brush with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Top with remaining phyllo sheet and brush with 1 tablespoon oil.
  • Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° and bake until golden brown, another 20 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

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66 thoughts on “Project Food Blog Challenge #4: Gluten-Free Hortopita (Kale and Feta Pie)”

  1. Hmm is anyone else encountering problems with the pictures on
    this blog loading? I’m trying to find out if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog.
    Any feed-back would be greatly appreciated.

    Reply
  2. Pingback: Project Food Blog Challenge #7: Video 411 | Healthy Green Kitchen
  3. Colour me seriously impressed that you made your own gluten-free phyllo dough! As for the pie, it looks more than good enough to eat :)

    Reply
  4. You did an excellent job on your tutorial! And I love that you used kale – one of my favorite greens. Best of luck in this round – I’m off to give you a tweet!

    Reply
  5. Wow – gluten-free phyllo! What an ambitious choice, but of course you pulled it off beautifully. Plus, the photos really help in showing off the texture of the dough. Good luck this round!

    Reply
  6. Wow, I’m really impressed that you took this Saveur recipe and was able to successfully make such a nice GF recipe. Great job!

    Reply
  7. Way to go, Winnie…the train keeps a rollin’! Love this recipe and am so grateful because I still have a ton of chard and tuscan kale in my garden just dying for a great new recipe to be used in. To be honest, I’ll probably buys some pre-made phyllo to make this, but make it I will. Lovely photos and instruction, you will definitely advance with this post! – S

    Reply
  8. Hey Winnie! So nice to meet you! thanks for stopping by the blog and dropping of your sweet note.

    I’m really loving your blog! It’s beautiful and I like your viewpoint. I don’t cook gluten-free myself, but I’m certainly not opposed to trying some new recipes! I find it fascinating that there are other ways to do what we’ve always thought of as “the” way to do it. So thank you for sharing. Your pie looked amazing! The Hubs would love this! (me too!)

    Reply
  9. Great post! I’ve had my eye on this recipe but your GF version looks amazing. Good luck and hope to join you in the next round :)

    Reply
  10. Great post Winnie. My vote’s in. Good luck! P.S. I want to see that homemade mozzarella cheese and tea smoked fish!

    Reply
    • You got it, Heena. Both tasted really good, but I just wasn’t jazzed about the photos…still, I will post them soon.

  11. This is a fantastic tutorial! I’ve never heard of hortopita before, but you’ve inspired me to try it! We have so much chard in our garden and I’m happy to discover a new way to use it.

    Reply
  12. Great tutorial! And it looks really delicious. I’m not sure that i have ever had hortopita before. but it will definitely have to be added to my must makes. Thanks for sharing. i voted for you again!

    Good luck! hope to see us both in round 5!!! =)

    Reply
  13. I’m sure glad you chose this recipe to post! It looks delicious and oh, so good for you! I’ll bet my kids will even eat it up! I am not only voting for you but going to be making this for dinner tomorow. thx for sharing and for the wonderful tutorial!!!

    Reply
  14. Winnie, this is a great recipe to share and your step by step photos look amazing! I’ve always wanted to try traditional Greek food, so I think I’m going to give this a try. It looks delicious! Best wishes Winnie!!!

    Reply
  15. This looks great! I love anything with kale, and best of luck to you in the competition!! We have tried making doughs like this before gluten free and vegan, no success. : ( Maybe one day.

    Reply
  16. winnie:
    this looks fantastic! love the photography too! you did a great job & i will for sure be casting a vote for you :)
    wtg on making it this far!!! woohoo!!
    -katie

    Reply
  17. Wowie, Winnie – good one! This is a great tutorial, fabulous photos, and gluten free, too? You’re amazing. I love kale and feel sort of eh about spinach, so this is definitely going to be on my dinner table soon. xoxCathy

    Reply
    • Thanks Cathy- I kind of hope you try it with the non g-f homemade phyllo. I am dying to know if you have to be a practiced Greek home cook to do it, or if mere mortals can roll it that thin…

  18. Congratulations on keeping in the running. Your blog is so gorgeous and informative, you totally deserve to keep on moving ahead in the challenge! Thank you for this recipe. Spinach pie and all its relatives have long been family favorites, but g-f phyllo dough is a revelation!

    Reply
  19. Beautifully executed! I’m so glad that you made it into the next round…you will have my vote. Not only does this look delicious, but it is a healthy and gluten free recipe…something that many of my friends are in need of! Thank you for sharing. I loved seeing the photographs of all those greens!

    Reply