Pi Day! Best celebrated, of course, with pie. And in our case, phyllo "pie," for two reasons: (1) I don't like pie crust (no, really! Icky stuff!), and (2) we had half a package of phyllo left over after making goat cheese-olive pastries for a Moroccan feast at the Mitchells' the other night. I thought it would be nice paired with a starter soup, rather than a big gnarly meal-in-a-bowl as is my usual wont, and the flavors ended up working together quite nicely.
The soup had a delicate, slightly exotic, heartening flavor. My enjoyment of it was dampened a bit by its overly liquidy texture, which was not a fault of the recipe but rather a fault of my having rubbed it through too fine of a sieve. (I am seeing that I neeeeed a medium-mesh strainer.) I would definitely make this one again and use a proper straining technique so as not to render it into wateriness. (Or, mayhap, not even strain it at all. My experiments in straining things that are not cheese have been less than successful to date.)
So that I don't bog you down with recipes, I will link you to the original recipe (at Papawow) for the soup*, and present here the Kale-Feta Pie recipe, which was my own (she said modestly) creation, technique lifted directly from a recipe for Bstilla in Claudia Roden's magnificent Arabesque: A Taste of Morocco, Turkey, and Lebanon.
I thought it would serve six or eight, but there was nothing left at evening's end.
2 Tbsp butter
2 medium onions, quartered and thinly sliced
1 bunch regular or Lacinato kale (about 12 ounces? perhaps a pound?)
About 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley (it's fine to include the smaller stems)
1 pint cottage cheese, preferably full-fat, drained in a strainer (finally! something that fine-mesh strainer does well!) for about 15 minutes
6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp (just a pinch!) ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
A few grinds of pepper
7 sheets phyllo dough, the regular 9×12 variety available in the freezer section at your grocery
4 Tbsp butter, melted
1 egg yolk, beaten with a drop of water
Preheat oven to 350.
Heat the butter in a pot; add onions and stir well until glistening. Reduce heat a little, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are beginning to color, about 20 minutes.
While onions cook, prepare the kale: Cut out the coarse stem from the center of each leaf. Stack four or five leaves at a time; roll up tightly to form a cigar-like shape. Slice the roll crosswise into thin ribbons.
When onions are very tender and have turned a lovely light golden color, increase heat, add kale and stir vigorously until kale is completely collapsed, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Dump the cottage cheese out of the strainer into a clean kitchen towel. Wrap the towel around it, pick up the roll and wring it hard to get out as much moisture as possible.
Add cottage cheese, feta, pepper flakes, cinnamon, salt and pepper to cooked vegetables; stir gently but thoroughly; set aside.
Grease a baking dish; I used my trusty oval Pampered Chef stoneware baker. Unwrap the phyllo just before you plan to use it. Gently lift one sheet from the pile of phyllo leaves and lay it into the dish. Brush lightly with melted butter, encouraging the phyllo to conform to the nooks and crannies of the dish as you do so.
Lay another sheet of phyllo on top of the first, offsetting it so that it overlaps the dish in different places. Brush with melted butter. Repeat with three more sheets.
Spoon the filling into the dish and smooth out gently. Bend over the corners of phyllo sticking out of the dish and pleat them, more or less neatly, around the filling.
Lay another sheet of phyllo atop the filling. Brush it with butter. Lay another one on top of the last one. Don't brush it with anything. Tuck both sheets down, as prettily as you like, around the sides of the filling to seal the pie.
Now brush the top of the pie with the egg yolk. Step back and admire your handiwork.
Place pie in oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes (35 was perfect for me), or until crust is puffy and just starting to brown. Transfer pie to bottom floor of oven, or, if you have a baking stone permanently residing in your oven (as I do), set it on the baking stone instead. This will help give the pie a nice crisp brown bottom crust.
Bake for 15 minutes; remove from oven; let sit for a few minutes to firm up a bit; cut into wedges and serve.
*what I did differently: blanched sliced almonds instead of whole ones. Also, 6 cups of stock instead of 8, which I think might have drowned the almonds a bit and may even be a typo in the original recipe.