Remember that lady I told you about who would bring snacks to the beach? We’re gonna talk about her again here as she is also the person who offered my first Patsavouropita (and this recipe). Kiria (Mrs.) Eleni spends her summers in Halkidiki each summer (like our family): she’s from nearby Thessaloniki and we’re travel from Canada). I’ve remembered this lady for as long as I’ve been coming to Nea Kallikratia (Halkidiki) in 1980. Kuria Eleni and my mom became friends (and ultimately our families) when we bought our summer home in 1989.
My mother and Kiria Eleni have become close friends, our families hanging out at the beach together, going into town for a bite, grocery shopping together and, entertaining in each other’s homes. Kiria Eleni is a widow but she’s still surrounded by three sons, three nifes (daughter in-laws) and many grandchildren. Kiria Eleni finds herself often having to cook or offer snacks to this extended family that drop by her summer home. Beach homes make for popular summer destinations.
When you have all these family members dropping by, quick dishes have to be prepared, in fact – some with some ingenuity. Here’s where the Patsavouropita comes in to play. Patsavoura has a double meaning here: in Greek slang it’s a rag or swab used to wipe floors and this word is also used as a slight towards a woman of low moral character…”h patsavoura” is likened to calling a woman a tramp. Now that I’ve taught you a Greek put-down, time to bake. Patsavouropita is a play on patsavoura and it’s name alludes to the “rag look” of this savory pie.
The preparation of this quick, easy and delicious pie uses commercial phyllo pastry, now widely available (supermarkets, Greek and Middle Eastern markets), melted butter, a filling of crumbled Feta cheese, ricotta, milk, eggs and…….? A can of club soda! Yes, I’m still intrigued but that’s what Kiria Eleni used and after gleaning some other Patsavouropita recipes, I see that a few other ‘nikokires” (Greek homemakers) throw a can of club soda into the mix. The club soda (sparkling water) give the Patsavouropita a light, fluffy texture, some lift to the pie. No worries, there will be no fizzy bubbles tickling your nose as you eat this delicious savory pie!
Here’s now it works: the phyllo pastry defrosts overnight in your fridge and the next day we can bake this savory cheese pie. Mix your filling in a bowl, melt your butter and pre-heat your oven. We’re ready to assemble the Patsavouropita. A deep baking dish/tray is well-greased and assembly begins by taking a sheet of phyllo and pouring about 3 Tbsp. of filling all over the surface. Now we gather the phyllo up with your fingers by pinching it in inch-by-inch until it looks like an accordion. You should now have a long folded strip of phyllo with the cheese filling in between. Transfer the phyllo to your baking tray and repeat this step until all your phyllo sheets have been folded/pinched with the cheese filling and your tray bottom has been blanketed with phyllo.
All that’s left to do is brush the top of the phyllo sheets with melted butter and then…just pour one can of club soda over the entire surface. Bake until just golden, remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few moments before cutting. Enjoy warm or re-heat later. I promise you this tray of Patsavouropita will vanish in minutes!
Patsavouropita (Αλμυρή Πατσαβουρόπιτα)
1-12″x16″ deep baking pan
1-454gr. package of phyllo pastry (thawed overnight in your fridge)
1 stick of unsalted butter, melted (about 1/2 cup)
1 350 ml. can of club soda (sparkling water)
2 cups of Feta cheese, crumbled
2 cups of ricotta cheese
1/2 cup milk
fresh ground pepper, salt to taste (if any)
Pre-heated 375F oven (middle rack)
- The evening before, transfer your package of phyllo from the freezer to the fridge and allow to thaw overnight. The next day, prepare your filling. In a large bowl, add the milk and eggs and beat with with a spoon. Now add the crumbled Feta cheese and ricotta and mix well (mash any larger pieces of Feta with your fork). Add some fresh ground pepper and salt (if necessary).
- Take your phyllo out of the fridge and allow to thaw for 15 minutes (or come to room temperature). Pre-heat your oven and have your filling at hand. Grease the bottom of your baking tray with butter or some olive oil.
- Take a sheet of phyllo and place on your work surface. Pour about 3 Tbsp. of filling over evenly over the phyllo sheet and fold over an inch from the bottom and with your fingers holding the ends of the phyllo. continue to fold and pinch the phyllo together, causing the phyllo to gather like an accordion. Repeat this step until your filling and phyllo are used up and the tray bottom is filled (the Portokalopita gets folded in a similar fashion).
- Now using a brush, paint the top of the phyllo (in the direction of the phyllo (horizontally) with your melted butter and as soon as the oven has reached 375F, open the can of club soda and pour it all over the surface of the phyllo. Place the baking tray in the oven (middle rack) for 35-45 minutes or until golden-brown.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Cut into square pieces and serve as a side, snack, as part of a buffet or with a soup or salad.
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