Spinach, Herb and Feta Skillet Pies (Gözleme)

Adapted from Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts

Skillet pies –tiganokouloures or tiganopsoma in Greek, and gözleme or saç böreği in Turkish— have become our everyday project these days. Read more HERE.

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Next to the popular markets in Istanbul, and in most other Turkish cities and villages, there is usually a lady preparing gözleme.  She sits on the floor, rolling phyllo (or yufka, as it is called in Turkish) on a sofra – a large, low, round wooden table. Next to her burns a makeshift charcoal stove with a piping-hot saç griddle, a large concave drum blackened and shiny from years of constant use.  With these humble instruments she creates the most tempting street food the market has to offer. The large, half-moon-shaped pies are made to order.  Sheet after sheet of thin phyllo is rolled with the help of a long rod in less than a minute. She spreads either a mixture of greens, herbs and fresh salty cheese, or just dabs of creamy cheese with hot pepper and some dried or fresh mint. The gözleme are briefly toasted on both sides atop the saç, then folded or rolled and handed to the customer to devour on the spot. Gözleme is soft, sometimes the dough is not even fully cooked; eaten piping hot, these super-fast pies are very popular and there is usually a line of people waiting patiently to enjoy their treat.

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My version of a delicious skillet pie inspired by gözleme  is easy to make, provided you can roll phyllo. Unfortunately, the frozen commercial kinds cannot be used. In some parts of the US fresh yufka sheets are available. If you have a pasta machine it is easy to make your own thin phyllo strips and to create rectangular or square gözleme. They may look different from the traditional pies, but they will be equally delicious, as they toast to crispy perfection.

See also my dessert version, Skillet Pies with Chocolate and Nuts.

Serves 6

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Instant Pies with Greens or with Chocolate and Nuts

Skillet pies –tiganokouloures or tiganopsoma in Greek, and gözleme or saç böreği in Turkish— have become our everyday project these days.

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Gozleme-&-Greens-Sw

Gozleme-choc-&-sugar-Sw

There are three reason for this late obsession of ours: First because Costas has almost completely mastered the art of rolling perfect phyllo and he is eager to use his new skill as often as possible; second, we gather plenty of wonderful, juicy spinach as well as chervil, fennel and other aromatic herbs from the garden; the third, and probably the most important reason of these repeated attempts is the newly acquired electric saç (hot-plate) that I brought from Istanbul.

Not that skillet pies cannot be cooked perfectly on a griddle or ridged skillet. They are ingenious creations of the frugal Mediterranean cooks who prepared in minutes a delicious snack or meal with whatever they happened to have at hand: wild or cultivated greens and herbs, grated zucchini or squash, eggplant, pepper or even cooked grains or beans, usually flavored with cheese and/or sausage. The recipe I have in my Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts can be prepared in any kitchen, either here, or on the other side of the Atlantic. And this has been proven, since David Tanis chose to publish it at the New York Times, calling it ‘Greek Pie on the Skinny Side’.

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Hortopsomo: Crust-less Pie with Scallion, Greens and Herbs

This is a VEGAN and GLUTEN-FREE dish. Here on Kea I always add wild fennel fronds to the herb mix. Serve as main course, with rice pilaf or any grain dish. It is an ideal finger food, cut into bite-size pieces. If you want to make it more substantial, add 2-3 eggs and 2 cups crumbled feta (no longer Vegan). In Metsovo a similar pie has also leeks, and is called pispilita or blatsaria (see Variation).

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Read HERE more about greens and herbs in other well-known dishes.

 

Serves 6 (or 8-12 as part of a meze spread)

 

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