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Kolokithopita - Savoury Pumpkin Pie

A recipe by

Feta cheese compliments the sweetness of the pumpkin and adds a wonderful saltiness to this pie. If you’re using a good quality barrel-aged feta there is no need to add any extra salt. The choice of warmer spices match the flavour of the pumpkin: a bit of cinnamon and cumin and a few leaves of fresh mint for extra aroma. 

This versatile pie makes a great starter or main, especially when served with a salad.  Perfect served warm or at room temperature.  Why not take a slice or two to work for lunch? 

Ingredients

  • 700 gr pumpkin, cut in cubes
  • 200 gr feta cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 5-6 stalks of fresh spearmint leaves or 2 teaspoons dried
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ pack of filo pastry (6 sheets)
  • Olive oil
  • Sesame seeds for topping

Instructions

  1. Remove the seeds and cut the flesh of your pumpkin in ½ inch cubes. Heat up a tablespoon of olive oil in a medium frying pan and add the pumpkin cubes with a pinch of salt turning them frequently to sweat. In 15-20 minutes, the pumpkin should have softened. Remove from the heat, mash gently with a fork and let it cool to room temperature.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix well the pumpkin, crumbled feta cheese, cumin, cinnamon and chopped spearmint leaves mix well and set aside while preparing the pastry case. Preheat the oven to 180◦C.
  3. Lightly grease an approximately 20cm x 30cm x 5cm deep baking dish. Unpack the filo and lay it out on your table or kitchen counter. Carefully lay the first sheet into the dish to cover the base and two opposite sides, with an overhang on both sides. The pastry doesn’t have to fit in smoothly. Wrinkles and folds are fine. Brush it with oil over and lay the second pastry sheet. This time lay it down in the dish the other way round, so it drapes over and lines the base and the remaining opposite sides. Brush with oil as before. The dish should now be completely covered, with pastry hanging all around. Repeat the criss-cross layering with 2 more oiled filo sheets. .
  4. Pour the pumpkin mix into the prepared pastry case and spread evenly. Start laying the remaining filo sheets, brushing each one with olive oil ensuring the final sheet is generously brushed. Trim the overhanging pastry and roll the sides to tuck them in.
  5. With a sharp knife mark the top of the pastry into squares or diamonds, piercing the pastry deeper here and there to allow steam to escape during baking.
  6. Sprinkle lightly with water (or even better milk!) and then sprinkle with sesame seeds generously. Preheat the oven at 180C and bake in the top shelf for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the pastry is golden brown. Give the pan a slight shake to help the pie slide when it’s cooked.
  7. If the filo turns brown too quickly, cover with foil to prevent burning. Leave the pie in the dish to cool for 15 minutes to make it easier to cut before serving.
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