This pie is a rif on Melitzanopita tis Dramas (eggplant pie from Drama) a wonderfully complex and delicious pie I learned to make years ago in this northern Greek town, and have published in my first cookbook, The Fooods of Greece.
I though of adding squash and bell pepper to the eggpants as I had no leeks to sweeten and add color to the stuffing. This semi-open colorful pie/tart is the perfect main course for a vegetarian Thanksgiving or for any festive fall and winter meal.
In the original pie of Drama sauteed leeks and eggplants are flavored with plenty of agad graviera cheese, and scented with cumin. Walnuts add a meaty taste to this delicious pie that I have baked on many occasions, both at home and also at various meals I have cooked over the years in the US. I often bake a rolled eggplant pie, as it is easier to cut and serve, especially if one uses commercial frozen phyllo, and not the wonderful home-rolled.
About 2/3 cup Olive oil as needed
1 round eggplants, cut into slices
1 large purple onion, thinly sliced
Half a small squash, peeled, seeded and cut into small dice –about 4 cups
1 red pepper seeded and cut into strips
2 cups aged graviera, pecorino or cheddar, grated
1 ½ cup smoked cheddar, grated
1 1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Aleppo pepper or freshly ground black pepper
About ½ -1 teaspoon salt, as the cheeses are quite salty
½ packet thick frozen commercial phyllo, or homemade phyllo pastry
Preheat the oven to 375 F (200 C) and brush generously the eggplant slices with olive oil, place them on a parchment-paper-lined baking dish and bake until golden and tender, about 20 minutes. Let cool and then chop them into about half-inch pieces.
In the meantime, in a large skillet sauté the onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, until soft. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. To the skillet add the pepper and sauté the pepper, remove when done, then add the squash and a little more olive oil and sauté on high heat, tossing often for 2-3 minutes, then reduce the heat, cover and continue cooking until soft, about 15-20 minutes. Cool in a colander to collect any excess oil.
In a large bowl mix the onions, eggplant, peppers, squash with the grated cheeses, the cumin and the walnuts. Add very little salt and plenty of pepper and toss well to mix.
Oil a pan or a cast iron skillet and lay 2 sheets of phyllo, brushing generously with olive oil and leaving the sheets hanging out of the pan. Add two more sheets of phyllo brushing with oil and then add the filling, spreading all over the pan and pressing to even it.
Fold the hanging phyllo, brushing with olive oil, to make a crown around the pan partly covering the filling.
Bake in the middle of the oven, reducing the temperature to 350F (180 C) for about 40 minutes or more, until the phyllo turns golden brown and the filling sizzles.
Let cool a little before cutting to serve. The pie can be eaten warm or at room temperature. It can also be frozen and reheated.