Debbie Matenopoulos
Leeks are harvested and eaten in the wintertime in Greece, and so this pita is served during the colder months. If you've never had leeks before, they are like very mildly flavored onions. They also have a prominent place in Greek mythology. It is said that leeks were included in ritual offerings to Leto, the mother of the twin Greek gods Apollo and Artemis, because she craved them during her pregnancy. Today, when the winter months roll around, I also crave this leek-stuffed phyllo pie. It has a light and airy texture with a very sophisticated and delicate flavor.



Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin Greek olive oil, divided
  • 2 pounds leeks, halved, white and soft green parts thinly sliced, washed well and dried
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh mint
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 pound Greek mizithra cheese (or ricotta)
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pound brine-packed Greek feta, crumbled
  • 1 (1-pound) package phyllo dough sheets (13" x 18"), thawed

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°. Oil a 9" x 13" baking pan.

Set 2 large sauté pans over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to each pan. Add the white parts of the leeks to one pan and the green parts to the other pan, cooking the white parts for 6 minutes, or until translucent, and the green parts for 8 minutes, or until tender, stirring both frequently. After 6 minutes, add the parsley to the pan with the white parts of the leeks, and cook 1 more minute. Transfer both the white and greens parts of the leeks to a large mixing bowl and add the mint.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs together with the mizithra (or ricotta) cheese. Add the egg-and-cheese mixture to the leeks along with the salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Gently fold in the feta crumbles so that they keep a relatively chunky texture. Set aside.

Roll the phyllo dough out on a flat surface, working quickly to prevent it from drying out. Place 2 phyllo sheets into the pan at a time, centering them in the pan and letting the edges hang over the sides. Brush the top sheet of each 2-sheet layer with a little of the remaining 6 tablespoons of olive oil, but do not brush the overhanging edges. Continue in this manner until you have used 10 of the phyllo dough sheets. Spread the leek mixture evenly over the phyllo dough layers in the prepared dish. Fold in the overhanging phyllo dough over the filling; then continue to layer the phyllo dough, brushing each 2-sheet layer with olive oil, until you have used all the dough. Trim the top layers of phyllo to fit the pan. Slowly and evenly pour the remaining olive oil on top and spread evenly.

Before baking, using a large knife, very carefully score the prasopita into 8 to 10 pieces, cutting through the top layers just until you reach the filling. Precutting makes it much easier to serve, as the phyllo dough becomes crisp and very fragile after baking.

Bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and flaky, watching carefully. Cool for 10 minutes, slice the precut pieces all the way through and serve.

All recipes © 2013 by Debbie Matenopoulos and PCA Creative LLC. All rights reserved.

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