Cheese Pie with Mint

While I can’t say this dish is necessarily healthy for you, it certainly does taste good. Then again, most things that aren’t good for you tend to be that way, don’t they? Greek pies, or pitas, as they are called in Greek, are made in many different ways: fried, baked, made into snail shapes, figure eights, and even cake-like pieces. The fillings for these divine little pies are even more innumerable. Cheese, spinach, pumpkin, leek, minced meat, and sweet cream are just a few ways these pies are filled. Honestly, the possibilities are limitless, sort of like toppings for a pizza. Whatever your taste buds fancy can be placed inside, or on top, of dough!

I suppose that, not unlike the perfect pizza, the perfect pita requires a bit of practice. The following recipe for dough is rather easy, and is the basic recipe most Greek women use to make homemade phyllo. (For those of you unaware, phyllo dough is the extremely thin pieces of dough used in many Greek pitas and desserts. If you watch a skilled cook roll out phyllo, it looks as easy as a ballet dancer performing a full-length ballet. Both artists have honed their skill to perfection, and to the novice, every move seems to be done with extreme ease. However, this is not the case. Making sheets of homemade phyllo is a bit difficult, so by all means practice your heart away, but don’t be too discouraged. Most grocery stores carry packages of phyllo sheets in the frozen section.)

The original recipe does not call for mint, but I think it adds a wonderful dimension to the cheese filling. Although these pies are definitely best eaten straight from the pan, they do keep well once refrigerated and make a great snack for the beach. This recipe is fun to make with children, and can be an exciting birthday party activity, so get your children involved if they are interested.

Yield: 24 pitas

For the dough:

2 c. flour
1 c. water
1 lg. spoon of red wine vinegar, or lemon juice
¼ c. olive oil
1 sm. spoon of salt

Combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl. The resulting dough should be a bit more sticky than pizza dough. Cover and place in the refrigerator for about one hour.

Cheese Filling:

1 c. grated feta cheese
2 lg. eggs
1 small bunch of fresh mint, finely chopped
(alternatively, you could use 1 Tbl. dried mint)
Freshly grated pepper

Combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Set aside.

When the dough is ready, cut off small chunks of the dough. On a floured surface, roll out the small chunks of dough into thin circles, much like little pizzas. You can even perform this task with your hands, stretching the dough into the correct thickness and shape.

Place a small amount of the cheese filling onto one side of the dough, flattening it slightly with a fork. (Be careful not to add too much filling onto the dough, as you will not be able to completely seal the pita’s edges for frying.)

Fold the dough over, making a half moon shape. Pinch the edge of the dough together, forming a “pocket” around the filling. Set aside and repeat with the remaining portions of dough and filling.

Prepare a large sauté pan with about an inch of oil. You can use olive oil, or another seed, or vegetable oil of your choice. When the oil is ready (you can fling a few droplets of water into the oil, and if it hisses and bubbles, the oil is at the correct temperature for frying), gently place about five of the pitas into the pan. Be sure to poke each pita a few times with the tines of a fork to allow the pies to cook through properly.

Once one side is nicely browned, flip over and cook the opposite side. You will know if your dough came out well if the crust of each pie is a bit bubbly. Allow to cool about 10 minutes before eating, however, I usually can’t wait that long and end up burning my tongue a bit. Enjoy!

Have any other ideas for Greek pie fillings? Let us and our other readers know by commenting below, or by sending us an email:

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  1. And I’m back….with $8 meals « Two Dancing Buckeyes

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