Metsovo

Hortopita from Metsovo (greens pie)

Traditional vegetable pie with filo pastry, seasonal greens, and feta cheese.
Ηπειρώτικο Πρωινό-Hortopita from Metsovo (greens pie)
Before cooking...

In Metsovo of yesteryear, most households grew their own gardens. Some were located in their owners’ backyards, while others were in plots on the town’s outskirts. To properly water these crops, the locals invented a crafty irrigation system. Seasonal leafy greens (like bitter dock) were widely used in pies and savory dishes. Not just for their diverse flavors but also their rich nutritional properties.

Hortopita from Metsovo (greens pie)

Ingredients

This particular pie is made with bitter dock and Swiss chard, but you can always add spinach or any other seasonal leafy greens you like. The absence of herbs is consistent with the simplicity of the traditional Metsovite gastronomy. The key ingredient is a small amount of trahanas which absorbs the excess moisture and bolsters the filling.

For the traditional filo:

  • 500 g all-purpose flour
  • 200 g water, lukewarm
  • 50 g olive oil
  • 15 g salt
  • 10 g vinegar

For the filling:

  • 500 g bitter dock
  • 500 g Swiss chard
  • 500 g leek
  • 3 bunches of scallions
  • 300 g feta cheese, crumbled
  • 150 g olive oil
  • 200 g trahanas
  • Salt (to preference)

Note: For a more authentic traditional filo dough, you can use hard flour, but you might have to sift it first. Alternatively, you can use ready-made Greek filo pastry.

Execution

  1. Wash the greens thoroughly. Soak them in water for a few minutes, change the water, and repeat 3-4 times until it’s clear. Rinse the greens well, dry them in a colander, and finely chop them.
  2. In a large bowl, stir the chopped greens, the crumbled feta, the trahanas, the salt, and the olive oil.
  3. In another large bowl, gently stir the ingredients for the traditional filo dough except for the water (flour, salt, olive oil, and vinegar). Add the water slowly while mixing with a spoon. When the liquids are absorbed, knead the mixture until the dough is smooth and non-sticky. Roll it into a ball, cover it with a towel, and let it rest for 30 minutes.
  4. When the dough is ready, divide it into 7 even balls and roll them into 7 thin sheets with the rolling pin.
  5. Set the oven to “upper and lower heat” and preheat it to 180 °C.
  6. Brush a baking pan with oil and lay a filo sheet, letting the excess dough drape over the edges. Brush it with oil and repeat with 3 more filo sheets. Spread the filling evenly, cover it with a filo sheet, and brush with oil. Repeat with the 2 remaining filo sheets.
  7. Roll and fold the excess filo dough with your hands to form a thick rim around the pie. That’s called “kothros” in Greek. Brush the top and the kothros with olive oil.
  8. Place the pan on the lower rack and bake for 1 hour (approximately) until the top is golden brown.
  9. Let the hortopita cool for a bit and serve.

This Metsovite greens pie is easy to make and suitable for any meal of the day. Just dry the greens properly and handle the filo pastry carefully to make hortopita like a true Epirote homemaker.

After cooking...

Metsovo lies at 1200 m. in the shadow of the imposing Pindos Sierra. Throughout most of its history, the famous Epirotic village has been a bustling commercial center and a beacon of the Aromanian culture. Today, the Metsovites proudly maintain their longstanding traditions, distinct architecture, and flavorful gastronomy unscathed. Just one stroll along its cobbled alleyways takes you back to the most glorious moments in the village’s past.

Ηπειρώτικο Πρωινό-After cooking...