Before I continue with my post-Chelyabinsk travelling photos and thoughts here’s a recipe I tried back in August. It’s a traditional Greek dish from the mountainous region called Epirus and it’s perfect for vegetarians. And it looks like this pie is gluten-free too! Moreover, if you have some leftover rice or even cooked buckwheat groats on hand, why not adding it to the greens to make it more substantial for your meat-eating friends? And if you curious about Spanacouscous, we will come to it at the end of the post.
I haven’t contacted the author but I hope that my translation is not a bad way to popularize Greek cuisine! =) I have never tried this one in Greece, on the contrary cornmeal seemed to be quite not that very present in Thessaloniki or on the islands. Some people call this pie made with the seasonal greens blatsaria μπλατσαριά, others batsaria μπατσαριά and some batsina μπατσίνα. We will call it Cornmeal greens pie.
One year ago – Autumn Leaves and Karelian Pies
Two years ago – Khachapuri, I’m addicted!
Three years ago – My Sourdough Adventures, a New Start
Blatsaria me kalambokalevro or Cornmeal Greens Pie from Epirus (Μπλατσαριά με καλαμποκάλευρο (Ήπειρος)) translated and adapted from www.dinanikolaou.gr will make an unusual salty dish with greens in between chewy cornmeal layers. See my remarks in italics.
For the cornmeal batter:
- 320 g finely ground cornmeal – I used a bit less
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 tsp salt
- 3-4 Tbs olive oil (Greek, of course)
- 420 g lukewarm water – I added around 400
For the filling:
- 1 kg greens from the market, something seasonal like radishes (and here come some names of the Greek greens I have never heard of like Mediterranean hartwort and Chervil), cleaned and finely chopped – I defrosted 800 g of spinach + added fresh sage, sorrel and even leftover cooked buckwheat groats
- 3-4 spring onions, finely chopped
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 bunch of dill or fennel, finely chopped – I used dill
- 300 g of Feta, crumbled – you might have heard of our reaction to EU sanctions, so I used 350 g of Adygea cheese instead
- 1/2 cup olive oil – I used pumpkin seed oil
- salt, freshly ground pepper – I also added some Georgian herb mix called Khmeli-Suneli
For the filling: Place all the greens plus salt and pepper in a bowl and mix for 4-5 minutes, working the mixture well with your hands, until they get all seasoned. Leave the mixture for 20 minutes aside and then drain from the liquid. Add the onions, the egg, dill or fennel, Feta and olive oil and mix everything well.
For the cornmeal batter: In a big bowl place the cornmeal and make a well in the center, then add the eggs, salt and oil. Mix well with a wooden spoon and gradually add the lukewarm water, mixing continuously, until you get a rather thick batter (you might not need all the water).
Bake the pie: Preheat the oven to 180 °C. Grease well the bottom and the sides of a round 32 cm baking dish. Pour half of the batter inside and level it out with a spoon. Put the greens filling on top and level it out too. Add 1 cup of lukewarm water to the remaining cornmeal batter (I added 100 ml) and drop tablespoons of it on top of the filling. Put the dish on the middle rack of the oven and bake for about 45 minutes until a golden crunchy crust creates on top of the pie.
Remarks: I did not a very crunchy crust as you can see from the photos. Also the colour was rather yellow than golden but I guess I just should have baked it some minutes longer. I added some leftover buckwheat groat (grechka as we call it in Russia) and I think it added some… body to the filling. It did not alter the taste though.
Result: The taste might appear weird at first – with all this cornmeal and greens… But this is exactly what this Greek pie is famous and loved for – the combination of the crunchy cornmeal crust with mashy greens. You could almost mistake this pie for an omelet with its yellow cornmeal top. I liked how the greens peeped through the sunny crust! Oh that was back in August…
This month I was more lucky with Feta. Shhhh… I found some real GREEK Feta in a supermarket… Won’t tell you the name of the shop so that it doesn’t get fined and shut down for selling cheese from EU in Russia! Guess how glad I was to sample the real Feta with sheep’s milk, oh-oh. Why do we only have super salty Bulgarian–brynza–like cheese around?
In some earlier posts I shared with you my improvised vegetarian dishes – usually some baked or steamed veggies plus some grains or pasta. And cheese. Oh yes. This time I got something that I’ve christened Spanacouscous as it reminded me of Spanakorizo from Thessaloniki (a post on this city is coming!). It doesn’t necessarily look super sophisticated – and, well, it should not as it’s so easy. Here’s what I did:
Spanacouscous with (Real) Feta improvised by me will make a combination of soup-like greens with salty cheese.
- fresh / frozen spinach
- some carrots
- Feta or some salty white cheese (if you’re less lucky)
- dried oregano
- seasonings, salt
I usually cook my veggies in water boiling in a pan under a cover (so they’re partially steamed I guess), adding some olive oil if I like to and salt plus some seasonings. When they are half ready I add some couscous as it cooks fast and absorbs the excess water. It usually ‘eats’ the salt too but don’t overdo the salt here – you will add the salty cheese later. I cover the pan and leave it on low heat for some time. Then I add some herbs like dried oregano and crumble some Feta on top. Dead easy.
Result: You will get a spoon of greens with a bite of Feta =) Also the sweetness of carrots comes in contrast to the salty cheese.
Lots of posts crowding and waiting for the turn in my Drafts. But where shall I start?!
P.S. I have a neighbour who laughs loudly almost every evening at the same time. Same time same laugh. I wonder if you can laugh on a schedule?