Hortopita is perhaps one of the most detoxing, antioxidant-rich foods. It's packed with a variety of greens and herbs and lots of extra virgin olive oil. All tucked in rustic homemade phyllo dough.
Hortopita is more of an old-fashioned pie that has given its place to Spanakopita. Traditionally it is made both with spinach, mixed greens (wild greens), and herbs. It is originally made without dairy or cheese though modern versions include some Feta cheese in the filling as well.
Table Of Contents
To make an Authentic Hortopita you need various greens and herbs. The better the variety the tastier the pie. You can use both greens from the wild as well as from the grocery shelves.
Wild Edible Greens
- Nettles (either white or stinging)
- Common Poppy Greens (Papaver Rhoeas) before the flowers grow otherwise its toxic
- Swiss Chard
- Beetroot Leaves + Stems
You can refer to these guides for more information on wild edible greens.
- Wild Edible Greens Guide
- Wild Edible Plants Eat Your Weeds In A Salad
- HORTA - GREENS: A Glossary Of Wild Edible Greens
You can skip the wild greens altogether if you want. And use a variety of fresh herbs instead to flavor the Hortopita.
Fresh Herbs To Use:
- Fennel Fronds
Can I Use Other Pastry To Make It?
You can skip making homemade phyllo and simply use storebought. Or even use puff pastry. Though this will be contrary, to the healthy profile of this pie but non the less delicious.
To Make Hortopita With Store-Bought Phyllo Dough: Use 5 phyllo sheets for the bottom of the pie, 2 phyllo sheets for the middle layer, and 5 phyllo sheets for the top of the pie. Leave the bottom phyllo to hang out of the pan's edges to overlap on top at the end and secure the filling. Fold the middle and top phyllo's to fit if they're too big for the pan.
To Make Hortopita With Puff Pastry: Use one sheet at the bottom and one for the top of the pie. Make sure the bottom sheet hangs out of the edges of the pan. Add the filling and the top pastry sheet then tuck in the bottom pastry to secure the filling. Optional: You can brush the top with egg wash. Beat one egg and mix with a teaspoon of water.
The Gluten-Free Version
Plastos is the gluten-free version of this Hortopita. It's a mixed greens and corn pie. With an amazing crunch and lots of flavor!
How To Make The Phyllo
Authentic phyllo for Greek pies is made with durum wheat flour. In Greece, it is called Horiatiko (like Horiatiki) which means from the village. Durum wheat is a type of hard yellow wheat. Used in making semolina, bulgur, couscous. And its flour is used in making pasta. So yes, it's much tastier than plain flour with a harder texture.
To make phyllo you need water, salt, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and durum flour for the dough. To roll open the phyllo you need a big enough rolling pin, all-purpose flour, and olive oil to grease each phyllo.
The dough for phyllo should be kneaded for at least 10 minutes so it becomes stretchy and smooth. Then it needs to rest for at least 30 minutes. Resting allows time for the gluten to develop within the dough which is what makes the dough stretchy.
Rolling The Phyllo
To roll homemade phyllo you need to pay attention to one thing mainly: Prevent the dough from sticking. This is done by sprinkling all-purpose flour on the surface you are using as well as the top of the dough.
TIPS ON MAKING HOMEMADE PHYLLO:
- The dough when you knead it should feel soft and a little bit moist, slightly sticky. Not too much to the point it leaves fragments on your hands. You can add some extra flour to it if it's too sticky. But always in small amounts like one extra tablespoon at a time. Knead for 2 minutes to see the texture of the dough once it has incorporated the flour. And then decide if it's necessary to add more.
- Always dust the surface you are working on, as well as the top of the dough with plenty of flour. This ensures the dough won't stick to the rolling pin or the bottom.
- It's okay if it tears a bit. This happens to the best of us (even experienced phyllo-making grannies) so no worries. The next one will cover it. Otherwise, pull it together a bit to cover the hole once it's in the pan. No one will be able to tell!
- Grease each layer with olive oil. In Greece, we brush a thick layer of olive oil on the phyllo. This helps the phyllo bake properly and adds lots of flavor. If you ever tried my grandma's Tiropita for example you'd be down with tummy aches with just one piece of it. That much oil she adds. And I'm sure she isn't using a brush to add the oil to the phyllo.
Making The Filling
To make the filling you need to rinse the greens very well. Then let them drain for a while. Chop the leaves and finely chop the stems of the spinach and beetroot greens (if using any). As for the swiss chard use mostly the leaves, not the stems.
Before the greens are added to the filling they need to be as dry as possible.
Mix the greens with some salt and let them rest. This will help them drain. Then squeeze them as strongly as you can within your fists to remove most of their water content. This is done so the greens won't release their water while they bake and turn the pie soggy.
If you want to add some feta cheese to the filling, add about 200 grams (7oz) of crumbled feta. And add at the same time you add the fresh herbs to the filling (step 7 of the recipe).
Other cheese you can add to Hortopita is Anthotyro or Myzithra cheese. These cheeses, instead of mixing them in the filling add them on top of the filling once it is added to the pan. Add the same amount as that of feta cheese mentioned above.
What Can You Add On Top
You can sprinkle the top of the pie before baking with sesame seeds. Either white, black, or a mixture of both. You can also sprinkle it with poppy seeds.
You can cover the pan with some aluminum foil and keep the pie at room temperature for up to 3 days. Or keep it in the fridge for up to 6 days. To reheat the pie you can either place the foiled-covered pan in a preheated oven at 150°C / 302°F for 15-20 minutes. Or if there are only a few pieces left place them in a non-stick pan over low heat on your stovetop and heat for 5- minutes on each side.
SERVE WITH ↓
Serve together with some Beetroot salad with Greek yogurt, Greek lemon potatoes, White Bean Salad with herbs. As a side to a simple soup like this Tomato & Carrot soup, or even with a feta dip like these: Htipiti (Red pepper & feta dip), Whipped Feta Dip.
For The Dough:
- 400 grams (3 cups + 2 tbsp) durum wheat flour for storebought phyllo instructions, see text above
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 260-280 ml water
For The Greens Filling:
- 600 grams (21 ounce) fresh spinach
- 400 grams (14 ounce) mixed greens (swiss chard, nettles, Mediterranean Hartwort, beetroot greens, Mallow, Dock)
- 35 grams (1.2 oz) chervil
- 20 grams (0.7 oz) dill
- 75 grams (3 small) spring onions or green garlic green parts separated from white parts, finely chopped
- 60 grams (2.1 oz) leek finely chopped
- 55 grams (½ small) red onion finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
For The Pie:
- 125 grams (1 cup) all-purpose flour
- 80 ml (⅓ cup) olive oil
Make The Dough:
- Combine flour, salt, olive oil, and vinegar in a mixing bowl.
- Add the water in gradually while you mix the dough with your hands. The dough should feel soft and just a little bit sticky as you knead it.
- Knead the dough for 10 minutes. If it leaves fragments on your hands, dust in a little bit more flour.
- Rest the dough. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave it at room temperature while you prepare the filling.
Make The Filling:
- Wash all of the greens thoroughly and drain in a strainer.
- Chop the leaves and finely chop the stems. Add to a large mixing bowl. Leaving aside the onions, leek, spring onions, chervil, and dill.
- Add the 2½ teaspoons of salt to the greens and give them a good massage. Until their original volume drops down by half.
- Rest for 30 minutes. Let the greens sit and absorb the salt.
- Squeeze the greens very well using your fists to drain and remove their water. Transfer to a new bowl.
- Cook the onions and leek. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan and add the red onion, leek, and white parts of the spring onions. Saute over medium heat then transfer to the bowl with the greens.
- Add the herbs, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and the green parts of the spring onions to the bowl as well. Mix well.
Make The Pie:
- Prepare your working surface. Keep the all-purpose flour and the olive oil along with a pastry brush close by. To use on rolling and greasing the phyllo.
- Preheat oven to 180°C / 356°F.
- Grease a 13 x 9 inch (33 x 23 cm) pan with plenty of olive oil. About double the amount you would normally add.
- Cut the dough. Shape the dough into a log and cut it into 8 pieces. Shape each piece into a round ball. Dip your hands in some flour if the dough has softened too much. Rest dough balls for 10 minutes.
- Roll the dough. Dust plenty of flour on your working surface. Place the dough ball on top. Dust the dough with flour as well and with a rolling pin roll it into a 4-inch (10 cm) disk. Take another dough ball and do exactly the same. Then dust plenty of flour on the surface of the small phyllo you just made, spread the flour a bit with your hands, and add the other small phyllo on top creating a double phyllo with flour in the middle.
- Roll open the phyllo to a rectangle of about 18 x 14 inches (45 x 35 cm). To do this, flip the dough often by rolling it around the rolling pin. And always dust both the surface as well as the surface of the dough with flour so it won't stick. Once the phyllo is big enough, roll it around the rolling pin and unroll over the baking pan. There will be phyllo hanging out all around. Brush with olive oil.
- Roll second phyllo. Repeat the same process once more to create another double phyllo for the bottom. Only this time a smaller one about 16 x 12 (40 x 30 cm) in size. Brush with olive oil.
- Add ½ of the filling. Spread it evenly.
- Add middle phyllo. Roll open a single phyllo by taking a dough ball and rolling it open into a big enough phyllo that fits inside the pan. If it's slightly bigger just ruffle it a little to fit. Brush it with olive oil.
- Add the remaining ½ of the filling.
- Close the pie. Make one double phyllo and a single phyllo for the pie top. Brush very well with olive oil in between and ruffle the phyllo on top slightly for extra crunch.
- Make the pie edging. Trim excess phyllo, leaving only the very first and larger bottom phyllo to overlap and tuck in all around the edges and form a nice pie edging. Make sure you brush with oil as you go so it bakes properly. Brush also the top of the pie with olive oil.
- Scar the pie. And divide it into 12 pieces. Do not cut all the way to the bottom.
- Bake for about 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes on the lowest rack of your oven until the pie gets crunchy and warm brown on top.
- Cool the pie by placing the pan on a cooling rack. Cut the pie at this point to help steam escape. Ideally, wait until it cools down to room temperature before serving.
- Store at room temperature for up to 3 days. It won't spoil. The flavor gets even stronger the longer it sits. For more on storing and reheating please see the text above.
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