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. I make it either as a round 8-9 inch pie or in a rectangular pan. For a small pie like the one in the photo below, you need about a pound of greens and herbs, 3-4 ounces of feta and 1 egg. If you make a large rectangular pie (13 X 9 inches) than I would double the amount of ingredients.
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.
Photos by Olive Tomato