Onions always provided a very economical way to fill a pie and hence a whole family’s belly. In the North of Greece, the preferred varieties for pie fillings, stews, and roasts have always been scallions and leeks. There are lots of recipes, for example, for lamb or other meats cooked on a plump bed of scallions, spring onions, or leeks, and for leek pies. Here is a variation on the theme. It is essential to use as much of the upper greens as possible.—Diane Kochilas
2 pounds scallions or spring onions
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 cups milk
Salt to taste
1 pound Greek feta cheese, crumbled
1 pound myzithra cheese, crumbled or an equal amount whole-milk ricotta cheese, drained in cheesecloth
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pound commercial phyllo pastry, defrosted and at room temperature
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1. Trim away the root ends and the toughest part of the greens. Wash the scallions or spring onions thoroughly and chop. Heat 3 tablespoons of the butter in a wide pot or large, deep skillet over medium heat and cook the scallions or spring onions, stirring, until wilted, 7 to 9 minutes. Pour in the milk, season lightly with salt, reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently to keep the milk from scorching the bottom of the pot.
2. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Mix in the cheeses and the eggs. Season with salt and a little pepper and combine well.
3. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) and lightly oil a 13-by 18-inch baking pan that is 2 inches deep. Open the phyllo and place on a work surface. Cover with a cloth to keep it from drying out.
4. Place the first sheet of phyllo inside the baking pan, allowing it to hang over one edge. Brush with the olive oil. Repeat with the next sheet, aligning it so that it hangs over the opposite edge. Brush with olive oil. Repeat with 6 more sheets, allowing each to hang over one edge in alternating order so that there is enough excess phyllo to roll up and form a decorative rim once the pie is completely assembled. Spread the filling evenly over the phyllo. Cover with 6 more sheets, letting them hang over alternating edges and brushing each with olive oil. Roll up the bottom and top excess phyllo together around the perimeter of the pie to form a ring. Sprinkle the top lightly with water. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter and pour it on top. Score the pie into serving pieces without cutting all the way to the bottom. Bake until golden, about 50 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool for 30 to 40 minutes, and serve.
Recipe © 2001 Diane Kochilas. All rights reserved.