Cheese and salami pie (Greek #6)

I’m talking about a Greek style pie of course, which involves layers of phyllo pastry on the top and bottom with a filling of your choice. Most common example I suppose is the spinach pie or Spanakopita. The one I made is loosely based on Pastourmadopita and it was made in an effort to use up all the graviera cheese that was sitting in the fridge for a couple of weeks. It turns out it’s quite tricky to eat 1.5 kilos of cheese before it starts turning mouldy.

The recipe originally uses kaseri, a cheese with similar texture to cheddar. The one I had, graviera, is a hard salty and spicy cheese, which doesn’t melt as well. In this case it didn’t matter, as I made some bechamel sauce for the filling, but if you are not doing that you probably want to use a meltier cheese. If you can’t find graviera you can instead use some Pecorino. I also substituted pastourma, a type of cured beef, for some peppery salami I had brought back from home.
Cheese and Salami Pie
Ingredients:
1 pack phyllo pastry (~8 sheets)
olive oil for brushing
sesame seeds for sprinkling

  

For the filling:

400gr cheese, grated
1/2 salami, chopped

2 medium-sized tomatoes, no seeds or excess juice, chopped
1-2 red pointy peppers (or any other kind you prefer)
bechamel sauce* (use just enough to bind everything together without making it too saucy, see below)
ground pepper

Grill the pepper(s) until lightly charred and then chop them, discarding seeds.

 

Mix all the filling ingredients together and add the bechamel sauce. You probably don’t need any salt, as the cheese will be quite salty, but you can give the filling a taste and adjust it accordingly. Place half of the phyllo sheets on the tray, brushing with olive oil between each layer. Top with the fillling.

  

Fold the edges of the phyllo on top, cover with the rest of the sheets (brushing with olive oil again!) and tuck the ends inside the tray. Use a knife to cut through the top layer down to the filling, making sure you don’t cut all the way to the bottom phyllo layer. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

  

Cook in a preheated oven at 180 degrees for about half an hour or until golden on the top.

Serve it with some salad on the side.

You can see that I didn’t do a great job when I tucked my phyllo sheets in as some of the filling escaped but it didn’t really matter. The flavour and smell are brilliant. The salami is spicy and strong-flavoured and makes for a great addition to a standard cheese pie. The pie is quite heavy because of all the cheese and the sauce, but the peppers and tomatoes make it more aromatic and somehow it tastes lighter because of them.

*About the bechamel sauce:
You can use your favourite bechamel sauce recipe; I make it the way my mum always does and these ingredients will make you just a bit more than what you need for the pie. Then you can eat the leftovers from the pot while your pie is baking.

3 tbsp flour
3 tbsp olive oil
milk
nutmeg
salt, pepper

Quickly fry the flour with the olive oil until it becomes a smooth paste. Turning the heat right down, add the (preferably warm) milk slowly and stir/whisk. I never know how much milk to use, I just keep adding it until the sauce reaches the right consistency. You want quite a thick bechamel for this recipe. Let it come to the boil, but keep whisking to avoid the bottom burning and the sauce turning lumpy. Add the seasoning according to taste (but remember that for this recipe, you are about to add salty cheese to the sauce).

Previously on Round the World in 100 Recipes:
Spetsofai
Stuffed Onions
Lihnarakia
Beef with Aubergines
Ladopita

Next time on Round the World in 100 Recipes: Meat Feast!

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