Hortopita: Greek Savory Pie with Greens, Herbs and Feta Cheese

January 29, 2013

Greek hortopita
Everybody knows the famous spanakopita also known as spinach pie, a combination of spinach and feta cheese. But something I like even more is a greens pie. It is one of the secrets of the Greek diet. Various greens mixed with herbs and a bit of feta (or not) tucked in layers of phyllo dough.

Within the traditional Greek diet, the consumption of greens, particularly wild greens contribute largely to the benefits of the diet. They are good sources of various antioxidants as well as omega-3 fatty acids. These greens can be consumed boiled or cooked in olive oil and accompanied with lemon juice and feta, but also in pites (pies). Pites are a fine way to eat vegetables and even more so greens. And this applies to kids as well; my kids happily will eat 2-3 pieces in one sitting.

Now, there is no one recipe for hortopita, basically you use a variety of horta (greens) combined with herbs, feta and then use phyllo to wrap it all up. Obviously homemade phyllo is the best, but store-bought phyllo will do, just make sure to look at the ingredients. Ideally phyllo contains only flour, cornstarch and a preservative, this is the case in Greece. In other countries though most phyllo also contains a little bit of fat, look for phyllo with as few ingredients as possible.

Like I said you can use any greens you like (wild greens are the best, if you can find them), just make sure the amounts correspond to the size of pie you are making. So I made a round 8-9 inch pie –I actually used a springform quiche pan, but you can use a regular round pan or a rectangular pan. For a small pie like the one I made, you need about a pound of greens and herbs, 3-4 ounces of feta and 1 egg.

The nice thing about this recipe is that it does not require a lot of prep work apart from washing and cutting the greens and layering the phyllo. And yes there is olive oil, don’t try to skimp on the olive oil, the phyllo needs it, and so do the greens. Remember the calories balance out, as the greens hardly have any calories. Plus the fat increases the absorption of antioxidants from the greens. And you can also make this a vegan version without feta and egg, as the vegan version of hortopita was very common during Greek-Orthodox fasting periods.

For this version I am using 2 types of aromatic greens/herbs myronia (wild chervil) and kafkalithres (Mediterranean hartwort), which are most likely not very, easy to find outside of Greece or the Mediterranean so you can just substitute these, with greens and herbs of your choice.

Hortopita

Hortopita-Greek Greens Pie with Feta Cheese

INGREDIENTS

  • 7 cups chopped fresh spinach
  • 3 cups chopped chard
  • 1 cup sliced leeks
  • ¾ cup chopped spring onion
  • ¼ cup myronia (wild chervil)
  • ¼ cup kafkalithres (Mediterranean hartwort)
  • 2-3 tablespoons dill
  • 2-3 tablespoons mint
  • 3-4 ounces crumbled feta
  • 1 egg
  • salt/pepper
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 6 sheets of phyllo dough
  • 1-2 teaspoons sesame seeds

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).

2. Wash and chop all the vegetables.Dry well.

3. Heat a pot with 1-2 teaspoon olive oil on low to medium heat,  add the greens and heat until spinach is wilted- about 3 minutes and liquids have evaporated.

4. Place spinach in colander and let it drain and cool. Once cool, squeeze the liquids out with your hands, place in large bowl.

5. In a small bow beat the egg and add crumbled feta and a bit of salt and pepper for taste, add to greens and mix well.

6. Take a round 8-9 inch pan and brush with olive oil.

7. Spread a phyllo sheet and cut in half. Place phyllo in pan scrunching it so it fits in the pan, this will make for thicker and crispier base. Brush with olive oil and continue until you have 6 layers (using 3 sheets cut in half).

8. Empty the greens mixture in the pan, spreading evenly.

9. Cover with 6 layers of phyllo using the same technique as before. After placing the last phyllo sheet. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

10. Score the top phyllo layers in 6-8 pieces, do not cut all the way through.

11. Bake in the lower level of the oven for about 45 minutes. I usually place the pie all the way on the bottom directly on the oven for the last 10 minutes for a crunchy crust.

12. Remove and let it cool. It can be enjoyed warm or at room temperature.

Photos by Olive Tomato

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17 Comments

  • Reply Sophia Perialas-Grady February 1, 2013 at 5:13 am

    Where can you purchase myronia and kafkalithres? What can you substitute for those ingredients or leave out??? Cannot find too many Greek items where I live. Thank you.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD February 2, 2013 at 6:25 am

      Sophia and Andriani,

      Yes, Myronia (wild chervil) and Kafkalithres are not easy to find, as I mentioned in the post you can use other aromatic greens. That’s the beauty of the hortopita; you basically use what you can find. You can use kale, dandelion greens, beet greens, mustard greens.

  • Reply Andriani Liakos February 1, 2013 at 5:58 am

    Myronia in the Country I am living?Kafcalithres?There is no way!

  • Reply Henry February 1, 2013 at 8:37 am

    What happened to the olive/tomato?

  • Reply Pixie February 2, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    Gee, I think it is a wonderful recipe and all it takes if you cannot find the exact ingredients is a little imagination.

    What would you like to put in the recipe to cover for the ingredients not easy to find in your area?

  • Reply Tim June 2, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    In the UK you can use Ground Elder as the main ingredient, which is great because it’s a real pest in the garden. Plus add a few dandilion leaves (which are very bitter, so take care) and some young stinging nettles. Sorel, angelica leaves, fresh origano, celery tops and lovage leaves can all go in too.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD June 2, 2013 at 7:24 pm

      Great suggestions, thanks Tim!

  • Reply Cynthia June 1, 2014 at 9:44 am

    This recipe was wonderful! I am enjoying various combinations of wild greens I find in Vermont, mixed with chard etc. Today I’m using dandelion, curly dock, and lamb’s quarters. Mushrooms are excellent in this too–it’s incredibly versatile. One question: can this be frozen? I would like to take one to a friend–long car ride, overnight. I guess a cooler would work if it won’t freeze well.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD June 2, 2014 at 3:10 pm

      Wonderful. Yes! You can definitely freeze the pita. We freeze Greek pies like this all the time and they come out fine once reheated. I do not use a microwave though, but a regular oven

  • Reply Helen Robles July 5, 2014 at 12:03 am

    A couple of days ago I found your lovely recipe for spanakopita and for some reason I was not able to bring it up again.
    Can you possibly email or tell me how I can bring it up again?
    Your explanation of the Greek/Mediteranian diet was excellent! I am 80 years old and I have never seen a Greek cook measure olive oil by a tablespoon or measure at all!
    My parents were from Kefalonia and my Mom made kreatopita which we all loved. Are you familiar with this pita?
    Helen

  • Reply What Greek Kids are Eating for Lunch and Why American School Lunches Should be More Mediterranean | Olive Tomato October 9, 2014 at 6:35 pm

    […] Spinach or greens pie made with feta cheese (spanakopita or hortopita). It tastes good and travels well. […]

  • Reply Von Allen November 13, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    Thanks for the hortopita recipe. Been looking everywhere for one.

  • Reply 19 delicious ways to use feta cheese | Olive Tomato November 20, 2016 at 8:13 am

    […] It is added to almost every single pie such as spanakopita (spinach pie), tyropita (cheese pie), hortopita (wild greens pie), and prassopita (leek […]

  • Reply How to Follow the Mediterranean Diet During Fall and Winter in 10 Simple Steps | Olive Tomato January 8, 2017 at 11:06 am

    […] and freeze well. These can be a complete meal. Popular winter pies include the famous spanakopita, hortopita (pie with greens), pumpkin pie, leek pie and onion […]

  • Reply 5 Ways to Eat More Vegetables The Greek Way | Olive Tomato January 29, 2017 at 8:00 am

    […] can easily make a filling lunch plus it is another easy way to eat vegetables. For pita recipes go here, here and […]

  • Reply Lita Watson June 17, 2017 at 3:08 am

    Can tofu be possible to use in vegan version of this dish? Tofu resembles feta cheese and has lower calories and fat content than feta.

    • Reply Elena June 22, 2017 at 6:01 am

      Hmm not sure, it will have ad ifferent flavor. Generally all Greek pitas have a vegan version, you basically omit the feta and the egg. Sometimes a bit of rice is added to provide volume.

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