Inspired by Greek Kouzina, St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1980
Plasto, a traditional cornbread and greens pie from Northern Greece, is an easy to make vegetarian dinner with lots of flavor. Leftovers make great sandwiches. Any wild or domesticated greens may be used for Plasto. For better flavor, I prefer using at least two types of greens and milder varieties, like spinach, Swiss chard, lacinato kale, nettles, vlita (amaranth greens), or poppies, with bitter or stronger flavored greens used only as an accent.
2 pounds mixed wild or domesticated greens
3 cups chopped yellow onion
1/4 cup olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. Aleppo pepper, or 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper (optional)
1/2 packed cup fresh dill, minced (1 box)
1/2 packed cup fresh mint, minced (1 box)
1 1/4 cup crumbled feta (or 4 ounces goat cheese and 3/4 cup cottage cheese)
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. soda
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup water
3 Tbsp. butter
Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease 10×10” pan with butter.
Make Filling: Wash greens very carefully. Discard any tough or damaged stems, leaves, roots, and any flower buds. If using greens with tough stems like kale or Swiss chard, strip leaves from stems; reserve kale stems for other use and thinly slice chard stems to saute with onions. Bring large pot of salted water to a boil, and blanch greens for 1-2 minutes. Drain and immediately rinse greens with cold water. Using your hands, squeeze as much water as possible from greens. Roughly chop greens and put them in bowl.
Sauté onion and chard stems, if using, seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper, in olive oil over medium heat until onions soften and begin to turn golden. Stir in Aleppo pepper.
Mix together chopped greens, sautéed onions (including oil), dill, mint, and cheese. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Make Cornbread: Mix all dry ingredients together. Whisk together eggs, yogurt, and water until ingredients are well blended. Melt butter. Stir egg mixture into dry ingredients until they’re almost, but not quite, completely mixed. Stir in melted butter until ingredients are just combined.
Spread a little less than half the cornbread mix over bottom of buttered pan. Spread filling over cornbread mix. Put dollops of remaining cornbread mix over the greens, trying to cover as much of the top as you can with dollops; use a spatula or your finger to spread the dollops into a thin layer that completely covers the greens. Bake in preheated oven for 40-45 minutes, or until top crust is golden brown and filling bubbles up sides of pan.
Let Plasto rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving. Serve with Tomato and Onion Salad and Kalamata Olives.
Leftovers: Leftover Plasto makes a delicious cold cornbread and greens sandwich. It may even be better cold; the filling’s flavors continue to develop overnight.