I’m on a greens kick.We recently harvested the last bitter greens from our garden. And Full Circle Farm, a Washington organic farm that extends its CSA program to Alaska, has been offering an impressive selection of greens; many are in my refrigerator.
This week my Full Circle Farm box included Swiss chard, beet greens, and domesticated dandelions. Despite having made two Hortopitas in the last week, I wanted more greens. For the sake of variety, I made Plasto instead of more Hortopita, and mixed the bitter greens from our garden with the sweeter Full Circle Farm varieties.
I discovered Plasto leafing through an old Greek church cookbook (Greek Kouzina, St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1980), one of hundreds of Greek cookbooks in my collection (a tribute to irresistible impulses and personal obsessions). In St. Nicholas’ Plasto recipe, spinach was sandwiched between two layers of Jiffy corn muffin mix. The recipe details were uninspiring, but the concept of layering greens and cornbread intrigued me.
Despite years of studying Greek cuisine, I’d never heard of Plasto. I searched my cookbook collection, and didn’t find another Plasto recipe. I turned to the Internet, looking for any Greek dish combining greens and cornmeal and found 19 pages of recipes combining the two ingredients, most in Greek. Although the recipes were similar, they had a full orchestra of names: Patsaria, Blatsaria, Batsaria, Batzara, Blano, Plastos, Plasto, Plastira, Pispilita, Paspalopita, Bobota, Bobotopita, Babanetsa, Spanakopita Epirotiki, Hortopita with Kalambokalevro, Pita Masodra, and Lachanopsomo.
The Internet recipes emphasized different dimensions of the cornmeal and greens combination, but none were exactly what I had in mind. Either the cornmeal layers had the wrong consistency, or the greens mixture was too bland, or the greens were cooked into a slurry.
I developed a recipe to fulfill what I imagined when I first read about Plasto. The top crust is browned and beautiful, while juicy filling bubbles up the pan’s sides when it comes out of the oven. It smells great; herbs, onions, and browning bread fill the kitchen with mouth-wateringly good aromas.When cut, Plasto is gorgeous: golden cornbread and deep green filling studded with white pockets of cheese are picture perfect.
Plasto is a recipe for days when I want something not too complicated and reliably good.