Teta’s pie – dandelion, leek & barrel-aged feta

Teta’s pie – dandelion, leek & barrel-aged feta

By
From
New Feast
Serves
4-6
Photographer
Alan Benson

This recipe is similar to one that Greg remembers from his childhood, as cooked by his ‘teta’ (grandmother). His grandparents – like many Lebanese – were keen gardeners, and particularly loved growing produce that wasn’t readily available in suburban Australia: purslane, za’atar (wild thyme) and the small white zucchini, essential for stuffing, were some of the favourites. Make this rustic, home-style pie using a variety of home-grown vegetables and herbs. And do have a go at the home-made filo, instead of always taking the easy route with store-bought. It is certainly less elegant than industrially produced filo, but the end result is crunchy and delicious, thanks to a generous brushing with butter as you assemble it.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
500g leeks, white and pale green parts only, well washed and finely sliced
80g butter
1 onion, finely diced
55g dandelion leaves, well washed and very roughly chopped
1 teaspoon dried mint
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 eggs, lightly beaten
180g barrel-aged greek feta
50g grana padano, grated
1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
sea salt, to taste
100g unsalted butter, clarified
turkish red chilli flakes, to sprinkle

Home-made filo pastry

Quantity Ingredient
1 egg
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
100ml water
100ml milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
400g strong flour

Method

  1. To make the pastry, mix together the egg, oil, water, milk and salt in a large bowl. Sift in the flour and use your hands to knead it briskly into a pliable dough. Don’t overwork it or the pastry will become tough. Divide into 12 walnut-sized pieces and leave them to rest under a clean damp cloth for 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil. Add the leeks and poach for 3–5 minutes, or until tender. Tip into a sieve and drain well.
  3. Melt the butter in a large frying pan and sauté the onion gently for around 8–10 minutes, or until soft and translucent. Add the leeks to the pan, together with the dandelions, dried mint and nutmeg and continue cooking for a further 5 minutes. With the heat on low, tip in the eggs and whisk them gently into the leek mixture. Add the cheeses and pepper. Taste and season with salt if need be, which will depend on the saltiness of your cheeses.
  4. When ready to bake your pie, preheat the oven to 160°C and brush a rectangular baking tray (around 22 cm x 26 cm) with clarified butter.
  5. Roll out each portion of pastry dough as thinly as you can. Each sheet should be roughly the same dimension as the baking tray.
  6. Lay 8 sheets of pastry in the tray, brushing each with clarified butter as you go. Add the filling and smooth it over evenly. Top with the remaining 4 sheets of pastry, again brushing with butter as you go. Finish with a sprinkling of red chilli flakes, then bake for 50–60 minutes, or until golden brown.

Note:

  • Spring is the best time to pick dandelions, when the leaves are small and sweet. As the flowers and ‘clocks’ develop, the leaves become increasingly bitter – although this is the attraction for true dandelion fans. If you can’t find dandelions then use chicory, wild rocket or peppery watercress instead.
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