Sunday, August 18, 2013

It's herbal, Herb

The sights, the sounds, the smells of Jerusalem are so overwhelming to the first time tourist that often he or she has a hard time putting into words just what it all meant at the time. That was certainly the problem in my case. I was hot, exhausted and dealing with a crisis of faith so profound that it's taken a year or two to put it all in perspective.

I did love the food.

So when I opened "Jerusalem, A Cookbook" (2012, Ten Speed Press, $35, 320 pages) by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, all the memories came rushing back, this time with pleasure. There are so many good recipes that it was hard to pick out just one. But I fixed this for a party and it was great.

A few notes:
  • Be sure to cover the filo with a damp towel for at least 5 minutes before using, and keep covered after using each sheet. 
  • This makes a very good vegetarian meal served with a soup before it and dessert after.
  • If you want to make extra to have it for another meal, skip the mint. It becomes too strong as it ages.

Herb Pie

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion
1 pound chard, stems removed and chopped, and leaves cut in ribbons
1.75 ounces arugula
1 ounce flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 ounce mint, chopped
2/3 ounce dill, chopped
4 ounces ricotta
3.5 ounces aged Cheddar, grated
2 ounces feta, crumbled
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 large, free-range eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
8 ounces filo pastry

Pour the olive oil into a large, deep frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for 8 minutes without browning. Add the chard stems and continue cooking for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chard leaves, increase the heat to medium-high and stir as you cook for 4 minutes, until the leaves wilt. Add the arugula, parsley, mint and dill, and cook for 2 minutes more.
Remove from heat and transfer to a colander to cool.

Once the mixture is cool, squeeze out as much water as you can and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the three cheeses, lemon zest, eggs, salt, pepper and sugar and mix well.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Lay out a sheet of filo pastry and brush with olive oil. Cover with another sheet and repeat until you have 4-5 layers, all covering an area large enough to line the sides and bottom of a 9 inch pie plate or casserole dish. Line the dish with the pastry, fill with the herb mix, and fold the excess pastry over the filling, trimming as necessary to create a 3/4-inch border.

Make another set of 4-5 filo layers brushed with oil and place them over the pie. Scrunch up the pastry a little to create a wavy, uneven top and trim the edges to that it just covers the pie. Brush generously with olive oil and bake for 40 minutes until the filo turns a nice golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve warm or at room temperature.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, how I wish I could have gone to that party!
    From Oakland, CA