Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Lost Pie called Plasto: Leek and Feta Pie with Cornbread Crust

Plasto* or leek and feta pie with cornbread crust,  is kind of a "lost" Greek pie hailing from the North-Eastern region of Greece known as Thessaly. It's not served in any Greek restaurants here in the United States nor in metropolitan Greece. In fact, none of my relatives in Greece have ever heard of it, as my family comes from a different region. Plasto recipes are difficult to find online, as there about 15 names for this kind of cornmeal and vegetable pie.  I first came across a recipe for Pleska (another name for Plasto) on a Greek cooking site called Nistiko Arkoudi (meaning Hungry Bear), making it one night for some friends - who still beg me to make it for them whenever we get together. Since then, I have found a few other recipes here and here and have scoured through my parents' old Greek cook books for something similar (no dice).

Leeks are a favorite vegetable of mine and I love the flavors together with the soft tangy feta and sweet cornmeal crust. I have made this pie many times, experimenting with different types of cornmeal and cornbread mixes as well as the filling.  Maybe this sounds unethical, but the Marie Calender's cornbread mix by far produces the best results. Surprisingly enough, this dish uses corn oil, instead of traditional Greek olive oil. Even my grandmother preferred corn oil over olive oil as it was the more "exotic" oil in Greece. Even today, a lot of my relatives use corn oil to make their pitas instead of olive oil. Go figure!

*Some other names this pie goes by: Pastaria, Blatsaria, Batsaria, Batzara, Blano, Plastos, Plastira, Pispilita, Paspalopita, Bobota, Bobotopita, Babanetsa, Hortopita with Kalambokalevro, Pleska, Pita Masodra, and Lachanopsomo. 

Ingredients (makes two pies):

2 eggs
1/4 corn oil
1/4 cup water
1 lb feta (try to get the creamiest available, I find the French to be the creamiest due to the lack of real Greek feta available in Southern California)
2 large blanched leeks
1 package Marie Calender cornbread mix


Heat oven to 375 degrees.
Slice cleaned leeks (both white and green parts) into small pieces and blanch in boiling water for a few minutes to soften. Drain with cold water and set aside.
In a large bowl combine 2/3 of the package of cornbread mix with enough equal parts oil and water to make a crumbly mixture.
Spread mixture in pie vessels covering the bottom and edges.
Smash the feta and eggs together with a fork, then add leeks.
Arrange leek filling on top of cornbread pie dough, then powder with remaining cornbread mix, wetting the top with remaining oil and water (use more if needed).
Bake for 50 minutes. Let cool at least 15 minutes before cutting.

Kali Orexi (Greek for Bon Appetite)!


H. C. said...

looks simple and tasty! though the yellowness of the cornbread (and my love of eggs) is tempting me to make a leek & feta frittata instead.

Peter M said...

Elly's Plasto was the first that I saw/heard of it and her family's from Thessalia so that's pretty authentic.

You'll find Plasto in many cookbooks in Greece and in books concentrating on Vlach and Thessalian dishes.

Yours looks great but you lost at "French Feta"...booo!

Diana said...

I'm kind of obsessed with leeks (and cheese) so this pie sounds amazing to me! Hope you still have a kitchen up there in Portland so you can continue to tempt me with all your homemade creations!

Peter G | Souvlaki For The Soul said...

My mother refers to this as "bobota"...I had this look on my face like "is she swearing?!". Looks delish Anna...nice to revise the classics!

Helen said...

Awesome! Looks amazing! My aunt used to make this type of pie using "tsouknides" (prickly greens) and cornmeal and it was mighty fine! My aunt passed away this year and her delicious pie recipes will remain a mystery. She had no daughters to carry on the tradition. She also made galatopita (milk pie), karythopita, (sweet walnut pie), kolokythopita (squash pie with cinnamon and sugar and walnuts)...anyway, as you can see she was quite the pita maker :)

Helen said...

p.s. Peter that is what my aunt called it too, "bobota" or maybe the corn meal flour was called bobota! LOL!

elly said...

I love plasto, as you obviously would have gathered from my post. :) This looks great. We always referred to bobota as the cornmeal crust with feta but not with spinach. Strange how terminology changes even among regions.

Banana Wonder said...

H.C. - Hah, that sounds good too - maybe add some corn, too? ;)

Peter - I don't know why Plasto isn't more popular - it's SO good. And about that French feta, we don't have a Greek town like you do in Toronto ;P

Diana - Leeks are TALF approved! And yes, kitchen + every kitchen gadget imaginable (roommate is former sur le tab employee).

Peter - One vote for bobota! (and yeah, that does sound like a cuss word!)

Helen - 2 votes for bobota! Maybe I should change the name? I'm sorry about your aunt, but she lives on as a pita legend!

Elly - You have great taste :) Thanks for your yiayia's recipe :)

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Mmmmhhhh, that pie looks and sounds interesting! It must taste great, yummy!



Banana Wonder said...

Rosa - I hope you make it! You'd make all us Greek bloggers proud :)

Carbohydrate Facts said...

The recipe looks good, will have to save for a night of home cooking.

Banana Wonder said...

Cab Facts - :) I hope you make it, let me know!

Thea said...

Another great recipe for Plasto. My family is from Thessaly and although my grandmother (Yiayia) had no recipe, I spent many hours at her side as she cooked her beloved native foods. After speaking with family members, I recreated the recipe I remember from my youth. Thanks to you and Elly, we now have some great Plasto recipes. Mine is similar and while my grandmother used only olive oil, my mom added melted butter. The greens were whatever we grew in our garden....spinach, dandelions, leeks...or a mixture thereof. It was a favorite of my children...and now my grandchildren. Kali Orexi!

Banana Wonder said...

Thea - Thanks for sharing! Even though my family doesn't come from this area (we are Asia minor Greeks) this is my all time favorite Greek dish!