Ryan Thomas is a university student who enjoys cooking recipes from a wide variety of culinary traditions.
It sounds like an odd mix of ingredients for a pie: rice, yogurt, and feta. Does it firm up when baked? What about the taste? What else gets added? Why such a strange mixture? While I can't quite respond to how I came up with the idea of throwing together these ingredients, fortunately the rest is a piece of cake (pardon the pun!).
Soft and delicate without any mushiness or wetness, this savory pie is a pleasure to eat, especially with the crisp crust (which does become softer if left to sit for a time, though it still remains an excellent complement to the filling). The filling has the strong, tart flavor of the feta, which melds with scallions and cilantro to produce a deliciously hearty flavor that is not quite-familiar and yet not-quite-exotic.
Add on sautéed, caramelized onions as a side, which I heartily recommend and have incorporated directly into this recipe, and it becomes a very nice main dish for any dinner. It is a particularly attractive dish for those who cannot eat meat.
I adapted this recipe from Recipes from a Greek Island by Susie Jacobs, a thoroughly delicious recipe book.
- 4 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups rice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 12 ounces feta cheese
- 1 1/2 cups plain yoghurt
- 3/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
- 1/4 cup dried dill
- 5 cloves (mandatory) + 2 cloves (optional) garlic, peeled
- 1/2 cup chopped scallions
- 3 eggs
- 2 onions (optional)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (optional)
- 2 teaspoons turmeric (optional)
- 2 teaspoons cumin (optional)
- 1 teaspoon coriander (optional)
- Firstly, start preparing the crust. Combine together the flour and the baking soda. In a large saucepan, heat the 3/4 cups of olive oil with 1 teaspoon salt and 3/4 cup water until it is boiling. Once it reaches a boil, remove from heat and add in the flour a little at a time, to make the dough. Kneed this resulting dough (it may need several minutes to cool down enough to be handled) on a floured surface for 10 minutes.
- Divide the dough into two balls, one larger than the other. In a large pie dish or a spring form pan, greased, roll out the large dough ball to cover it. Roll out the smaller one to an appropriate size to be able to cover the top and then leave it aside while doing the filling.
- In preparing the rice, either use a rice steamer with the normal amount of rice and water as you use with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt, or bring 3 cups of water with the same quantities of additional ingredients to boil in a saucepan, then add in the rice, stir, cover, and turn down heat to simmer for 20 minutes.
- Crumble the feta a bowl, then add the yogurt. In a blender or food processor, combing together the cilantro, the dried dill, the scallions, and the 5 cloves garlic. Blend. If it does not blend add in some of the yogurt to help make it liquid enough to blend. It does not need to blend long, just enough to be somewhat smooth.
- Combine together the blended ingredients with the yogurt-feta, then break in 1 egg at a time into it, beating to combine each time. Add the rice to this mixture, season with salt and pepper, and stir until well combined. Then pour into the prepared pie dish, and place the second dough piece which has been rolled out over the top. If desired make patterns on the top and crimp the edges. Bake in a 350°F oven for 60 to 70 minutes. Allow to cool 10 to 15 minutes; it is best warm or at room temperature.
- (Optional) Near serving time, heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil and proceed to sautée the 2 onions which have been peeled and chopped. Once they begin to turn brown add in the 2 teaspoons turmeric, 1 teaspoon coriander, 2 teaspoons cumin, and 2 garlic cloves. Serve with individual slices of the pie.
© 2018 Ryan Thomas