A Variation on Hortapita

In my last post I wrote about horta made entirely from green alliums, the first greens of spring. Horta is very good all by itself, but it can also be fun to elaborate, and I have written before about hortapitas, the many types of greens pies that are filled with horta. They can be large or individual in size, the crust can be phyllo or bread dough or pie crust or no crust, and the filling can be horta alone or include cheese or meat or eggs or egg mixtures like the one show here. The horta can be based on one green or on as many edible greens as you can gather. Herbs can be subtle or dominate the filling. They are all delicious.
In this case, I had almost two cups of green allium horta to use, and fresh eggs were on the counter waiting to be used. I decided on a quick and easy phyllo crust and an eggy cheesy filling. A package of phyllo pastry from the freezer was set out to thaw. I wanted to maintain a fresh springlike quality in the filling, so I made a run to the perennial paddock to grab a small handful of green garlic and garlic chives.

I made a tangy cheese custard for the filling using three egg yolks and one whole egg beaten together. These went in the food processor with half a cup each of fromage blanc and Greek yogurt. I used fromage blanc because I had it around, but another half cup of Greek yogurt or crème fraiche would have worked fine. This mixture was processed until smooth and turned out into a mixing bowl. To this basic filling I stirred in the fresh alliums chopped finely, the allium horta, about 4 ounces of crumbled feta, and about 2 teaspoons of fresh thyme leaves. I also added half a teaspoon of salt, which along with the feta makes this filling come out just a touch on the salty side, which I think suits it.

Next came the crust. If you’re used to working with phyllo, this takes less than 5 minutes. Unroll the pastry, brush one sheet at a time with olive oil using a pastry brush, and align them in the baking pan the way you want them. I used am 8×12” pan, but you could also use a square pan or round pan. The filling will be thicker in the smaller pans but the flavor will be the same. Don’t get hung up on details like exact pan size. If you haven’t worked with phyllo before, there is a great tutorial on the wondrous Food 52 site. Just have ready a damp but not wet towel, about half a cup of good olive oil , and a pastry brush. I used about half a package of phyllo.

Once the crust is ready, pour the filling into it and roll up another few sheets of oil-brushed phyllo and put them around the edges, messing them a bit with your fingers. Now bake at 350° until the filling is set and the phyllo is golden-brown and crisp. Let sit out of the oven for 10 minutes and serve, or serve later at room temperature. Simple, delicious, quick, and very good for you.

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