Pies are a staple of Greek cuisine. From the savory classics spanakopita and tyropita (spinach and cheese pies) to the syrupy sweet custard pie galaktoboureko, phyllo-based pies can be made with virtually any type of filling. In the days before refrigeration, baking up pies was a great way to use up an overabundance of seasonal fruits and vegetables. Pies are also a staple of the Thanksgiving dessert table. Enjoy the following recipes this year.
Pumpkin Pie with Phyllo Crust
1 1 3/4- to 2-pound sugar pumpkin or butternut squash, halved through core, seeded 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon ground ginger 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves 3/4 cup sugar 3 large eggs 1/2 cup milk 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/4 teaspoon Greek sea salt 10 sheets phyllo dough, thawed 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place pumpkin, cut side down, on parchment. Bake until very tender, about 1 hour. Set aside to cool. Scoop baked pumpkin into food processor, discarding skin. Whisk together the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves in small bowl. Add cinnamon mixture to pumpkin in processor. Add the sugar, eggs, milk, vanilla, and salt. Process until smooth. Filling can be made one day ahead. Transfer to large bowl, cover, and chill.
Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees F. Lightly butter 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Place rimmed baking sheet in oven to heat.
Lay 1 phyllo sheet on clean work surface and brush lightly with butter (keep remaining phyllo sheets covered with plastic wrap and damp kitchen towel to prevent drying). Repeat 4 times with phyllo and butter. Arrange stacked phyllo in tart pan, gently pressing and allowing long sides to hang over edge of pan. Repeat layering process with 5 remaining phyllo sheets. Arrange stacked phyllo crosswise atop first sheets so that overhanging corners point in opposite directions. Roll overhang in to form edge of crust. Pour pumpkin filling into pie. Place pie on hot baking sheet and bake 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees F and bake until set, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool at least 30 minutes before serving with whipped cream, if preferred.
Fistikopita (Pistachio Pie) For the pie crust:
(Makes 2 crusts for 9-inch pies)
2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon sugar 2/3 cup cold, unsalted butter 6-7 tablespoons ice cold water
For the filling:
3 eggs 1/2 cup Greek thyme honey 1/4 cup sugar 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted 2 cups shelled, unsalted pistachios 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon A pinch of Greek sea salt
To make the pie crust: In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and sugar. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, though some larger pieces of butter are fine. Add the cold water a few tablespoons at a time and stir in until dough forms. Depending on the humidity, you might not need to add all the cold water. Divide the dough in half, form into disks, and wrap each half in plastic wrap.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to three days, just thaw at room temperature until the dough is easy to roll out. (Reserve the other half of the dough for another pie. The dough, tightly covered in plastic wrap or in a freezer bag, can be frozen for up to a month, just thaw when ready to use.)
Roll the dough out into a 12-inch diameter circle and transfer to a glass Pyrex pie plate. Trim the edge, if needed, and flute the edge as preferred. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate while making the filling. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs, honey, sugar, butter, 1/2 of the pistachios, cinnamon, and salt. Pour the mixture into the prepared pie crust and smooth out the top with an offset spatula. Spread the remaining 1 cup of pistachios evenly over the top of the filling. Bake for about 1 hour, checking at 30 and 45 minutes. If the pie crust edge seems to be browning too quickly, cover with foil strips. Pie is cooked when the filling is puffy and appears to be mostly set. The filling will deflate as it cools. Serve with vanilla ice cream, if preferred.