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.