Greek Butternut Squash Pie (Kolokithopita) is one of the best wintry pies. This rustic old-fashioned pie is made with homemade filo, walnuts, sesame, raisins, rice, olive oil, and warm spices.
Kolokithopita is such a filling and cozy pie. The extra crunchy filo is made with durum wheat flour. Which is made out of a variety of hard wheat. And it's the one used to make pasta and bread in Mediterranean countries. This flour is also used to make Horiatiko Psomi (Greek village bread as it's translated).
The homemade filo is one of the best elements of this pie. It makes the pie extra crunchy and more flavorful.
Making Homemade Filo
To make homemade filo, you mix durum wheat flour, salt, olive oil, vinegar, and water. This will give you a dough that is firm and slightly soft once you knead it. Filo dough needs to be kneaded for at least 5 minutes. The more you knead it, the easier it will be to roll it later on. That's because by kneading the dough, gluten starts to form. And further develops while the dough rests. Resting time is 30 minutes at room temperature.
To roll the filo you need a big rolling pin. One that's at least 50 cm (20 inches) long is a good enough size to use for filo-making.
Also to roll the filo you will need a mix of all-purpose flour and cornstarch to dust the dough with. The dough absorbs the flour mix while you roll it open and becomes bigger without sticking on the surface you work on. So make sure you dust the surface as well as the top of the dough while you roll.
To roll open an evenly round filo, just keep rolling up and down. Flipping the filo upside down and sideways so it gets bigger in size evenly all around.
Another thing to keep in mind when making homemade filo is that it needs to be brushed with olive oil in order to bake nicely and become crisp. So brush each filo with olive oil always!
Preparing The Butternut Squash
To make Greek Butternut Squash Pie you need to grate the squash using a box grater (course shred side). Then mix it with a bit of sugar and leave it for a few hours to release most of its water content. I prefer to do this the night before. And leave it in the fridge overnight. Because this pie does require some process to make, this way you get to break it down a bit. Plus you give plenty of time for the sugar to combine with the squash and release its moisture.
When it's time to prepare the filling, squeeze the squash to remove most of its moisture but not all. We need some moisture for the rice to absorb and get cooked inside the pie.
SERVINGS AND STORING
To make this Greek Butternut Squash Pie you need a round 31 cm (12-inch) pan. This will yield 14 pieces. Leftovers you can keep in a food container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Or in the fridge for up to 5 days but this will make the filo too soft. To reheat, add the pie pieces to a small baking dish or pan and cover it with aluminum foil. Then reheat in the oven at a low temperature of 160°C / 320°F for about 15-20 minutes.
Sweet Greek Butternut Squash Pie (Kolokithopita)
For The Pie Filling:
- 1300 grams (2.1 pounds) butternut squash (box grater, course shred)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 10 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 100 grams (3.5 ounce) short grain rice
- 4 tablespoons raisins
- ½ cup walnuts
- 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
- ⅓ teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
For The Filo:
- 500 grams (4 cups) durum wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 300 ml water
- 80 ml olive oil
- 50 grams (5 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
- 50 grams (5 tablespoons) cornstarch
To Serve With:
- icing sugar
- ground cinnamon
Prepare The Butternut Squash:
- Add the grated squash to a strainer. Mix well with the salt and then place in the fridge overnight. Or for at least 4 hours.
Prepare The Pie Filling:
- Squeeze the squash to remove its water and place it in a bowl.
- Add the honey, 5 tablespoons of sugar, rice, raisins, nutmeg, cloves, and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Mix well and set aside.
- Finely ground the walnuts in a small food processor.
- Add the walnuts to a bowl. Combine with the sesame seeds, 5 tablespoons of sugar, and the remaining 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. Mix well and set aside.
Make The Filo Dough:
- In a mixing bowl add the durum wheat flour together with the salt, red wine vinegar, and 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Stir for the salt to distribute evenly. Then slowly add the water in while kneading. Once you have added all of the water knead the dough for 5 minutes. It's going to be a firm slightly soft dough. If needed add an extra tiny splash of water.
- Cover the bowl with a tea towel and rest the dough at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
Make The Pie:
- The all-purpose flour and cornstarch will be used to roll open the filo. So mix them together in a small bowl and place it on your working surface.
- The 80 ml of olive oil will be used to brush the filo. So again keep it in a small bowl or cup along with a pastry brush next to you.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and place it on your working surface. Shape it into a cord and cut it in half. Then cut each half into 5 pieces (10 in total).
- Shape each piece into a round ball.
- Dust some of the flour and cornstarch mix onto your working surface. Take the first ball and dust it as well. Roll it open to a round disk about 15 cm (inch) in diameter. Set aside and repeat the process for the next ball.
- Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil and spread it over the surface of the first round disk you made (leaving about 1 cm of space all around the edges). Top it with the second disk you've made and press the edges all around so the two filo stick together. This is a double filo. NOTE: Double filo is more stretchy due to the olive oil. Therefore, easier to roll it open into a bigger size, which is needed for the bottom layers of the pie.
- Make another double filo. Then let the filo rest for 15 minutes. Resting helps with the rolling of the dough.
- Dust your working surface and place the double filo. Dust it on top as well. Then start to roll it open up and down with the rolling pin. Whenever it feels like it is starting to get sticky dust more flour to it.
- Once it has gotten slightly bigger wrap it around the rolling pin, dust the surface again, and unroll on the surface this time facing it widthwise. Keep rolling and flipping the filo upside down and sideways until it's about 45 cm in diameter. NOTE: The bottom filos' should be big enough to hang out of the pan a little bit. In order to secure the filling and overlap on top of the pie at the end to create a nice pie edging.
- Brush a round 31 cm (12-inch) pan with a bit of olive oil.
- Roll the filo on your rolling pin and slowly unroll it over the pan. Gently press it to fit inside the pan letting it hang out a bit all around the edges.
- Brush the filo lightly with a bit of olive oil. Sprinkle 4 tablespoons of the walnut and spices mix all over the surface of the filo.
- Then roll open the next double filo and add it on top. Brush it with olive oil as well. Sprinkle 4 more tablespoons of the walnut and spices mix.
- Take a dough ball and roll it open into a smaller-sized filo this time. One that fits inside the pan. If it turns out slightly bigger ruffle it a bit to fit inside. Brush it with olive oil.
- Add ½ of the filling and spread it evenly with a spoon.
- Preheat oven to 200°C / 392°F.
- Make another filo and add to the pan as well. Brush it with olive oil and again 4 tablespoons of the walnut mix.
- Add another filo, brush it with olive oil, and spread the remaining half of the filling on top.
- Make another filo add it to the pan, brush it with olive oil and add the remaining walnut and spices mix on top. Then make two last filos for the top of the pie.
- Overlap the excess filo that hangs out of the pan one by one brushing it with olive oil. Tuck it in to create a nice pie edging. Brush the top of the pie with olive oil as well.
- Carefully cut and divide the pie into 14 square pieces. But without cutting the bottom layers of filo so the filling won't stick to the bottom.
- Bake for about 30 minutes on your oven's lowest rack. Until deep golden and very crispy. Then drop the temperature to 180°C / 356°F and bake for 15 minutes more.
- Once you remove the pie from the oven place the pan on a cooling rack. Let the pie sit for at least 30 minutes before cutting and serving.
- Serve the pie with icing sugar and ground cinnamon on top. Enjoy!
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