Vegetables form the basis of Albanian cuisine. Cheap seasonal vegetables go into everything. Liliana’s favourite dish is her mother’s Spinach and Feta Pie.
You could also use chicken breast for the filling. Normally you would use 10 layers of filo pastry for a pie. You can buy frozen filo pastry in most supermarkets.
“What do you miss the most?” I ask Lorena, her teenage daughter, “The sea”, she sighs, ”the sea.”
As we write down the recipe, Liliana offers me a dish of home-made yoghurt and a dollop of honey which had been sent in a parcel from her mother’s farm in Albania; the taste of Adriatic flowers buzzes in my mouth all evening.
- Spinach 800grams
- 1 onion (fresh)
- 2 scallions
- Pinch of thyme
- Feta cheese, good sized chunk!
- ½ cup of olive oil
- 2 eggs
- Pinch of salt
For home-made filo pastry
- ½ kilo flour
- Pinch of salt
Heat oven to 180 degrees.
To make filo pastry mix a little water and salt with the flour until is a pliable doughy mixture. Roll out very, very thinly (tissue paper thin) and cut into 10 or so regular sizes. Sprinkle with corn flour.
Cut spinach up as you would salad. Chop the onion and scallion finely and add to spinach. Add thyme and crumble the feta cheese in. Beat the eggs, add oil and eggs to mixture and mix well.
Oil a baking dish and lay one layer of filo on it, fitting it carefully, brush this with oil and continue until there are five layers of pastry in the dish, each brushed with oil. Add the filling. Layer five layers of filo on the top in the same way with oil brushed on each layer. Pinch together around the edges. To glaze, beat one egg and add milk. Brush on the top of the pie. Bake in oven for 1 hour.
Below is a demonstration of the above recipe. Ingredients may differ slightly.