I was craving a savoury pita (Greek word for 'pie) and had some nice Japanese eggplant and decided to wing this recipe. I lucked out, cause it made a tremendous pie! Note: 'pita' in Greek not only means pie, it also means flat. Traditionally, a Greek pita will not be more than about 1 1/2 inches thick. This recipe will make 16 snack or appetizer servings or 8 servings, serving 2 pieces per person, as a main course.
- 2⁄3 cup olive oil
- 2 lbs Japanese eggplants, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice (the long, thin kind, fewer seeds)
- 3 medium onions, minced (about 3 cups)
- 8 ounces lean bacon or 8 ounces smoked ham, minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄2 teaspoon pepper
- 12 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
- 4 eggs
- 1 bunch parsley, minced
- 1⁄3 cup fresh mint, chopped or 1 tablespoon dried mint, crumbled
- 1 (1 lb) package phyllo pastry (phyllo)
- 1⁄2-3⁄4 cup olive oil
- 1 small egg (make into a wash with 1 tbsp water)
- 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
- In a large saucepan over medium heat, sauté eggplant and onion, stirring occasionally, until eggplant is soft and has become almost a puree, about 20 minutes.
- Add bacon or ham, tomato paste and salt and pepper (careful with the salt - it may not seem like a lot but the bacon and the cheese, that will be added later will add a lot more), and cook another 5 minutes. You may have a dark brown film on the bottom of your skillet (I do not use non-stick surfaces - only stainless steel). You will find that this scrapes up easily once you turn off the heat and the eggplant puree starts to cool. Do scrape it back into the puree with a spoon as this is highly-flavoured and helps the overall taste (if it doesn't scrape easily in the beginning, just wait a couple of minutes longer). Allow to cool.
- Note: The eggplant puree can be made up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before continuing with recipe.
- In a large bowl, combine well eggplant puree, feta, eggs, parsley and mint. Taste a small amount of the filling to decide if you would like it a bit saltier.
- Preheat oven to 390°F.
- Butter bottom and sides of a 15 X 11 inch baking pan. Stagger sheets of phyllo in pan, brushing each sheet with olive oil as you position it in the pan.
- When you have used half the sheets of phyllo pastry, empty the filling into the pan and spread it out evenly.
- Continue staggering the remaining sheets of phyllo over top, brushing each one with olive oil as you position it in the pan. Tuck in any overhang you have and give a last generous brushing of olive oil to the whole pie.
- With a sharp knife, score the pie lengthwise into 4 strips, and then score into 4 strips crosswise (resulting in 16 pieces of pie). DO NOT CUT ALL THE WAY THROUGH PHYLLO - JUST THE TOP LAYERS.
- Generously sprinkle the pie with some tap water using your fingertips (run your hand under the tap and sprinkle the water over the pie - do about 5 of these sprinkles - this results in a crisper, crunchier crust).
- Brush pie with egg wash and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Bake for 1 hour, or until pie is a golden-brown. You may need to reverse pan back to front midway through baking.
- Allow to cool 15-20 minutes before cutting into. Personally, I like this pie just warm or at room temperature.