You do not necessarily need to roll your own phyllo if you want to make an authentic Greek or Eastern Mediterranean pie. You can opt for the crustless version, adapting this basic recipe using any seasonal vegetable: a combination of sautéed leeks and carrots in the winter, or eggplant and peppers in the summer, for example.
The traditional ‘naked pies,’ the ones that are not wrapped in phyllo as most vegetable pies are, often include cheese –crumbled feta in most cases– but there are traditional vegan variations like the hortopsomo(literally ‘green bread’) of Epirus and southern Albania. In it the greens and herbs are bound together by cornmeal. My favorite ‘naked pie’ is the one we make in the summer with zucchini, of which we often have an overwhelming abundance in June, fresh from our garden.
But I can never stop trying new variations, adding and/or substituting ingredients to even my most successful recipes, otherwise I get bored. Here is a very easy winter ‘naked’ squash (or zucchini) pie, which I perfected for my book. Instead of the yellow cornmeal of the original recipe I make this one either with toasted breadcrumbs, or better with rolled oats which I grind in the blender. The result is a lighter, delicious pie that happens to be gluten free, suitable for friends that follow special diets . I have also added sunflower seeds and pecorino, giving it a nice crunchy crust.
I usually serve it as main course, with a generous seasonal salad. But it can also be an appetizer, and is our guests’ favorite picnic food, as we often bring it with us to the beach, precut into bite-size pieces.