Traditional Cornbread & Greens Pie from Greece

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.

Be sure to check out the recipes mentioned in this post:

 

6 Responses to Traditional Cornbread & Greens Pie from Greece

  1. Coffee & Vanilla says:

    Hi Laurie,

    Thank you for your entry.
    Please check back soon for the round-up, I will be preparing it tonight.

    Margot

  2. This sounds like good home fare! Thanks for a great entry for Grow Your Own #3!

  3. ThreeTastes says:

    Hi Laurie, I found your site via the CLICK event, but I’ve been enjoying all your posts. I love the way you cook and what you cook! I’m probably going to try this greens and cornbread recipe sooner than later. Never met a green I didn’t like, and I do love corn. Mind if I put a link to your blog from mine?

  4. hi there from windy, warm and forest-fire struck Greece!
    i just read your latest, new-to-vista entry, and about PLASTO.
    as a canadian doing Greek cooking for 37 years now, i have often wondered why we must boil the greens for a pie. i fry the onions, or leeks, or both, and add the washed,chopped greens, whatever they be, to the pan when onions are ready, cover the pan and allow greens to wilt. if i feel they may be tough for some reason, i allow a couple of more minutes after the wilting.
    works!!!
    love reading your entries! enjoy summe:)
    carole s

  5. Hi Carole! Thanks for visiting. There are two reasons that I blanch the greens. The first is to remove most of the moisture so the crust doesn’t get soggy. I not only blanch them, I also squeeze as much water out as I can after doing so – something you can’t do when you saute the greens with the onions. The other reason I do it is when I’m using bitter greens and want to eliminate a little bit of the bitterness – blanching works well for this purpose.
    I hope you are enjoying your summer and thanks again for visiting!

  6. MEDITERRANEAN KIWI says:

    i’ve just seen Mariana’s pispilita pie, and i’m very tempted to make one of them myself…

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