My father comes from an island named PAROS. We are so proud of our island with it’s beautiful history and versatility but my father‘s ancestors originated from Crete. My father used to tell me a story about his grandfather who as young boy escaped from Crete (due to war and fear) on a boat and landed on Paros. The boy pretended not to remember his name in fear they would send him back and so they gave him the name “Kastanias” which translates to ‘chestnuts’ . They gave him this name as they found him hiding and living amongst the chestnut farm. From a little girl I have wanted to travel to Crete and this year (2017) I had the pleasure of visiting it. One particular day we went to a place called Elafonisi where the deep blue waters and white sands are mesmerising. The sand gives the crystal waters a beautiful colour and the sand has an extraordinary pink shade. It is truly an exotic beach. In order to swim you need to walk quite far inwards as it is shallow and therefore ideal for a family like ours. You can imagine we spent all day there absorbing its beauty and without realising time had gone by so fast that we were starving! It is here that I ate my first BOUREKI. My daughter and I had to fight over the last piece and you can imagine that if a mother is trying to take food away from her child, then you know it must be REALLY good! hahaha Now if you ever visit Crete you will realise that the locals are very proud not only of their culture but especially proud of their cuisine which mainly consists of vegetables and cheeses. Boureki, in particular is one of those dishes that they are especially proud of. It is a very easy pie to make and even more easier with this version, as no pastry is required. Boureki refers to a layered potato and zucchini pie. It is sweet and tarty and is served hot or at room temperature (though I prefer it hot because the ricotta mixture becomes so creamy!) I have tried several time to replicate the Boureki we ate in Crete and I must say it is pretty close (In Crete they use a cheese called “Anthotiro” which tastes like a combination of feta and ricotta). If you want the full traditional taste however, you need to double the amount of olive oil I have suggested. The more olive oil, the better and even on your plate, drizzle some more. Well, what do you expect? It’s a Greek dish and Greek dishes are made with a lot of good quality extra virgin olive oil! Trust me, its delicious! Recipe is on the blog x
600g brushed potatoes
600g green zucchini
600g ricotta cheese
200g feta, cubed + 50g crumbed
1 tbs gluten free plain flour
1 cup milk
1 cup water
1/2 cup finely chopped mint
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
3 tbs olive oil + 3 tbs olive oil
1 tbs sesame seeds
30cm round baking dish or 20cm square baking dish
Preheat oven to 180C fan forced.
Grease baking dish with 2 tbs olive oil.
In a food processor combine the ricotta, feta (do not include the 50g crumbed feta as this is for topping the dish), flour, milk, water, 3 tbs olive oil, mint, parsley and add freshly ground pepper. Blend. Set aside.
Peel and wash the potatoes. Wash the zucchini. Using a mandolin cut at 0.5cm thickness.
In the baking dish lay the first layer of potatoes slightly overlaying each piece so there are no gaps. Season with seas salt and pepper then add a layer of sliced zucchini. On top spread a layer of ricotta mixture evenly over the vegetables.
Continue to layer the vegetables and ricotta mixture creating a pattern (potatoes, sea salt, pepper, zucchini, ricotta mixture). Firmly but gently push down each layer to compact it. Top the dish with the ricotta mixture, crumbled feta and sesame seeds.
Drizzle with a little olive oil and cover with foil. Place in oven and bake for 40 minutes. Then uncover and further bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.
This ‘pie’ is especially delicious served with a fresh tomato, olive and oregano salad.