The Glorious Foods of Greece: Traditional Foods from the Islands, Cities, and Villages by Diane Kochilas (Morrow, 2001).
Gothamist loves Greek food. And we love that more and more good Greek food, from fancy to casual, is available in the city. But we've noticed that certain dishes turn up again and again at various Greek restaurants, while others are nowhere to be found.
While phyllo-wrapped spinach pies and cheese pies are common fare in most of these restaurants, Greek home cooking also offers "lazy" pies that don't take as much time or effort, in part by skipping out on the phyllo. If the notion of a savory pie without a pastry crust seems strange, just think of it as the Greek take on that American classic, the casserole (just much tastier).
This recipe for "Lazy" Cheese and Yogurt Pie comes from Diane Kochilas. She serves as the consulting chef at Pylos in the East Village and splits her time between her native New York and her family's homeland of Greece. In The Glorious Foods of Greece, Kochilas provides a definitive take on the seemingly endless variety of regional cuisines of Greece, offering over 400 recipes culled from her eight years of research.
She offers many, many different savory pie recipes, so while this one recipe just scratches the surface, it's a good, lazy place to start. Assembling the ingredients doesn't take long, and while the pie is cooking for just over an hour, you can use that time to throw together a salad or cook up some spinach for a simple, easy accompaniment.
"LAZY" CHEESE AND YOGURT PIE (TEMBELOPITA APO TO ZAGORI)
2 cups thick Mediterranean-style or plain yogurt, drained, preferably made from sheep's milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 to 2 cups water, as needed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 cups crumbled Greek feta cheese
2 to 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, as needed
1/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, eggs, and 1 1/2 cups of the water. Mix in the melted butter. Add 1 1/2 cups of the feta and then add about 2 cups of the flour. Stir well to combine. The mixture should have the consistency of a thick batter. Add more flour or water, if necessary, to achieve the proper consistency.
2. Rub a 12- by 18-inch baking pan with butter. Pour the batter into the pan and spread evenly with a spatula. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1 cup feta with the milk and olive oil and pour this evenly over the surface of the pie. Place the pan on the center rack and bake until set and golden, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool slightly, and cut into serving pieces.