In this unusual recipe from northern Greece, a cornmeal-thickened yogurt is flavored with scallions and herbs, and baked or fried wrapped in tangy grape leaves; thus becoming a sophisticated “pie” with complex aroma and unexpected flavor.
In an earlier version, I made a large pie that I baked in the oven. It was good, but difficult to divide into portions. Paula Wolfert suggested small fried “packets,” which worked much better. Now I propose something in between: individual little pies, baked in tartlet pans or shallow muffin tins. When finished under the broiler, the grape leaves caramelize beautifully! Serve with risotto or any grain pilaf.
1 1/2 pounds (680 g) thick Greek-style yogurt
1/3 cup (50 g) cornmeal
2/3 cup (65 g) finely chopped scallions
2/3 cup (40 g) finely chopped dill
2/3 cup (40 g) finely chopped fresh mint leaves
1/2 to 1 teaspoon minced jalapeño or other fresh chili, or black pepper, to taste
15 to 20 vine leaves, fresh or frozen
About 1/3 cup (80 ml) olive oil, as needed
Preheat the oven to 375˚F (190°C).
In a bowl, combine the yogurt and the cornmeal; add the scallions, herbs, salt, and pepper and stir well.
Oil six 4-inch (10-cm) mini tartlet pans or shallow muffin tins. Line each pan or tin with 1 large or 2 small grape leaves, making sure they amply cover the bottom and sides. Brush liberally with olive oil and divide the yogurt mixture among the pans. Top each with a leaf, tucking the edges inside to make a neat package, and brush liberally with olive oil. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the mixture is set and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Preheat the broiler. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and invert the pans onto it. Place the pies under the broiler for a few seconds to caramelize the leaves.
Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.