Friday, June 10, 2016

Greek phyllo pie with kale and feta

On Saturday, we went to Scheveningen and had the best day walking along the beach, dipping our feet in the North Sea and watching the surfers do their thing. We ate lekkerbek (fresh, battered fried fish with spices) and friet met saus (Dutch fried potatoes with different sauces), strolled along the boardwalk and stopped by the ornate carousel with the spinning horses. I was tempted to buy the most kitch flip-flops known to man simply because of their outrageous colors and patterns (but didn’t) and ate tons of ice cream, mainly stracciatella and coconut that had desiccated coconut inside and was the most amazing ice cream I’ve ever had.

We returned home hours later feeling tired yet energized by the atmosphere of Scheveningen, with sun-kissed cheeks and hair smelling like the sea, and were craving something sweet still. I made loukoumades, the best airy and fluffy Greek doughnuts, drizzled with pine-tree honey (the last of my stash from home) and a good sprinkling of aromatic ground cinnamon.

We ended the day lying on the couch, watching a movie, with the windows open, feeling the summer breeze on our flushed faces.

Sunday was a quiet day, and even though I wasn’t in the mood to go in the kitchen, I couldn’t not use the phyllo dough I had thawing in the fridge from the night before. I was going to make a Greek pie with kale and feta.

It’s a typical Greek pita (pita is a Greek word that means pie) but with a non-Greek main ingredient, kale. In Greece we eat a lot of wild greens (mainly boiled and dressed with olive oil and lemon or added in pies) and many of them are of the bitter kind, but kale is not one of those greens. Greece has only been recently introduced to this leafy green. Kale reminds me a lot of those wild bitter greens I crave so much and can’t find in the Netherlands, so making this pita was inevitable. I have made it multiple times and it is one of my favorites.

It is much like a spanakopita but with kale. The wonderful thing though is that kale is a dry leafy green, it’s not like spinach that exudes too much water when cooked, so your pie won’t run the risk of being soggy. Quite the contrary, it is crispy all around, even at the bottom.

The flavors are beautifully fresh, with the slight bitterness of the kale, the grassiness of the dill and the zing of the spring onions, and the feta providing its salty and tangy kick that brings all the flavors together. The sesame and nigella seeds on top give some extra crunch, adding their unique and piquant flavor to the pie.

Greek phyllo pie with kale and feta

I used cavolo nero (lacinato or tuscan kale) but you can use the curly kind as well.

It can be eaten on its own or you can serve it with some thick Greek yoghurt.

Greek pies make the perfect side dish; they are also great for a bouffet, especially when you want to feed a lot of people.

Yield: 12 pieces

450-500 g phyllo pastry with 12 sheets (1 packet), thawed
200-250 g fresh kale (I used cavolo nero)
400 g feta, coarsely grated
4 large spring onions, white and pale green parts only, finely sliced
A bunch (about 30 g) fresh dill (leaves and stalks), finely chopped
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing the pan and phyllo sheets
Freshly ground white pepper
Sesame seeds
Nigella seeds

Special equipment: box grater, large baking pan (about 35 x 25 cm), pastry brush

Start by making the filling.

Rinse the kale well under cold, running water and drain it in a colander. Chop it into small pieces and add it to a large bowl. Add 2 Tbsp olive oil and massage the kale gently for 30-40 seconds to soften it.
To the same bowl, add the sliced spring onions, the chopped dill and the grated feta. Then add salt, but not too much because the feta is salty, and a good sprinkling of freshly ground white pepper. Drizzle with 2 Tbsp olive oil on top and mix everything well together with your hands. You need to go in with your hands to do a proper job, don’t bother using a spatula or spoon for this. They won’t work as well.

Preheat your oven to 190°C.

Using a pastry brush, oil the bottom and sides of your baking pan. Line the bottom of the pan with the first phyllo sheet, making sure to leave an overhang on all sides of the pan. Oil the sheet lightly with a pastry brush, then add a second sheet and oil it, and then do the same with another 4 sheets (6 sheets in total on the bottom).

Empty the filling in the baking pan, making sure to spread it around evenly. Add a sheet of phyllo over the top and oil it, like you did with the bottom sheets. Continue adding the rest of the sheets, oiling them as you go, until you have no more sheets left.

Crimp up the edges of the phyllo, don’t worry too much about how it looks, Greek pies are rustic. With a large knife, gently score the pie, being careful not to go through all the top layers of the phyllo. You need to score the 3-4 top sheets only.
Sprinkle the top of the pie with some sesame and nigella seeds (more sesame than nigella).

Place the pan on the low rack of the oven and bake the pie for about 50 minutes, until the top has taken on a golden brown color.

Note: My oven is on the small side and short. If you have a large, high oven, bake the pie on the middle rack.

Take the pan out of the oven and let the pie stand for half an hour so it cools a bit.

Cut the pie into pieces and serve.

As with all phyllo pies, they are at their best the day that you bake them. The phyllo becomes less crispy the next day but that never bothers us. We eat it greedily on the second day as well. If you have leftovers, in order for the phyllo to remain somewhat crispy on top, don’t cover the pan completely but cover it loosely with a piece of aluminum foil. Keep the pie at room temperature.



  1. It looks absolutely DELICIOUS !!
    I like the idea of using kale together with feta