Squash (in Greek “kolokitha”) is a summer vegetable looking like something between a courgette and a big watermelon (note that there are several varieties of squash like the butternut squash or the pumpkin). The Cretan squash grows throughout summer and ends up huge (weighs several kilograms) in autumn when it is harvested (usually between end of September and October). It is consumed either pan fried (sliced and sprinkled with flour) or as the main ingredient of pies. There are two types of squash pies, one is savoury (eaten as main dish or starter) and the other is sweet (eaten as dessert or snack). Here we will talk about the savoury version of the pie. Squash has a natural sweetness which matches perfectly with the saltiness of the feta and graviera cheese added in the pie. This is wrapped between delicious filo pastry to produce an unforgettable Cretan pie that anyone would crave for. Every time we visit a Cretan vegetable garden (there are always squashes growing!) we become apprehensive of the time when the squashes we see become delicious pies. We provide below a great recipe for a squash pie that evokes happy Cretan memories.
Squash is packed with beneficial nutrients, such as dietary fiber as well as A, B6 and C vitamins. It is low calories and is a great source of minerals, such as potassium (very beneficial for the cardiovascular system), phosphorus, magnesium and manganese (good for the bones; usually found in yellow vegetables). This vegetable is therefore fully beneficial to the body. The squash pie also contains other ingredients which are higher in calories, therefore we give it healthiness score of 2 out of 3 (🥑🥑).
The recipe below feeds approximately 6 people as a main dish. Cooking time is around 60 mins, however preparation can take up to 2 hours without having any special difficulty though. Consequently the time score is 3 out of 3 (⌛⌛⌛). The pie is delicious and deserves an overall score of 3 out of 3 (😋😋😋).
Squash can be easily found anywhere. However, the difficult ingredients to find outside Greece are the pastry sheets and one has to go to a specialist grocery. Therefore the ingredients score is 3 out of 3 (🔎🔎🔎). The ingredients are as follows:
- 1 Kg grated squash (yellow squash type)
- 1 packet of country style (“choriatiko”) pastry sheets (the “choriatiko” version is thicker than normal filo pastry)
- Alternatively country style “kourou” dough can be used
- Half teacup condensed milk
- 300 gr grated Graviera cheese
- As Graviera is not easily found outside Greece, any other soft yellow cheese can be used
- 300 gr grated feta cheese
- 1 teacup of coarse semolina
- 1/4 of a teacup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 eggs
In terms of preparation score, it receives 3 out of 3 (🍳🍳🍳 ) as it requires quite a few steps and some patience. Follow the steps below:
- Rub about a teaspoon of salt to the grated squash. This helps the liquids of the squash to come out.
- Place the grated squash to a seive for about 1.5 hours , so that a great part of its liquids are strained.
- Squeeze the grated squash to extract as much liquid as possible.
- Mix in a large bowl the squash with the semolina, feta cheese, eggs, olive oil, some pepper and milk and stir thoroughly to produce the “squash mixture”.
- Prepare the baking tray to be used by sprinkling some olive oil on it.
- Place on the tray half of the pastry sheets (on top of each other). Make sure you spread some olive oil on each sheet before piling them. You can use a cooking brush for this purpose.
- On top of this first pile of pastry sheets spead evenly the squash mixture.
- Spread on top your grated Graviera or other yellow cheese.
- Repeat step 6, by placing the other half of pastry sheets on top to cover the squash mixture (do not forget to oil the pastry sheets in between).
- Using a knife lightly mark the pieces of the pie.
- Place the tray in the oven and bake for about 1 hour in 180 °C (or 356 °F) in topped and bottom heat option or the bread/pizza baking option.
Steps 7 and 8: Spreading the squash mixture and Graviera cheese
Steps 9 and 10: Covering of the quash mixture and marking the pieces of the pie
Our Cretan squash pie is ready to be served
Cretan squash pie is a very versatile dish and matches well a great spectrum of other dishes. It accompanies very well vegetables and legumes. It is also a good starter when the main is a meat based dish. It is also often eaten as a morning or afternoon snack.
Recipe last edited: 13/02/2019
© Recipe and photos by Agisilaos Papadogiannis