Greek Cooking | Katerina’s alternative tiropita: vegetarian cheese pie with grape leaves

Chef Katerina, cooking tutor on our Greek cookery holiday in Poros, has kindly shared some of her wonderful Greek recipes with us for culinary inspiration and new ideas.

Lately, as you may already know, I have been trying avoid those dreaded carbs (and thus taking full advantage of summer BBQs). However, the never ending meat and vegetables can get old and uninspiring.

Then I stumbled on this Greek delight – just look at this perfection! A cheese pie wrapped in grape leaves (rather than filo – no guilt there). I also swapped the regular flour for almond flour, leaving this at very minimal carbs. Does guilt free eating get any better than this?

According to Katerina, this is based on a traditional tiropita recipe from Pagoneri Dramas in Northern Greece that calls for different types of cheese that will give the pie an extra salty flavour. The grape leaves add bitterness to the taste creating a special result. It is usually made in May, when the fresh young grape leaves are ready.

Serves – 8 / Time – 90 minutes

Ingredients:

30 grape leaves
200g feta cheese, crumbled
3/4 cup of yoghurt
200g grated kefalograviera (can be substituted with pecorino Toscano, pecorino romano, Parmesan, Regato, kefalotyri, aged myzithra or aged Gruyere)
100g anthotiro (a type of ricotta cheese)
2 large organic eggs, beaten
2 tbsp fresh mint (optional)
2 tbsp dill (optional)
A few splashes of milk or cream
1 ½ cup flour
Spring onions
Olive oil
Sesame seeds (optional)

Note:

If you don’t have fresh grape leaves available (I sure don’t), you’ll have to add this extra step. I buy my grape leaves at an Eastern European shop across the street, which come in jars of brine. Carefully take out the rolled leaves, unroll them delicately, and stack in a large bowl. Cover with boiling water and let them steep for 30 minutes. Rinse with cold water and dry on a towel, and you’re ready to start Katerina’s recipe.

You will need:

Mixing bowl, spatula, loaf pan

Directions:

To prepare the filling for the pie, use a fork to crumble the feta cheese in a large bowl and add the beaten eggs along with the rest of the grated cheese and a bit of milk or cream.

Chop some fresh mint, spring onions, dill and add it to the mixture. Add the yoghurt and mix well. Season with freshly ground pepper and blend well with a spoon.

Place the mixture in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes to firm up.

grape leaves lining a baking pan
While the mixture is chilling, butter the bottom and sides of a baking tray. Place one grape leave at the bottom of the tray and with a cooking brush sprinkle some olive oil or melted butter. Repeat this procedure until the baking tray is totally covered; but be sure to oil each leaf as you go.

Pour in the feta cheese mixture and smooth with a spatula.

grapes leaves in baking tin topped with sesame seeds
Top your pie with the remaining grape leaves, making sure to oil or butter each one before adding the other. Roll in the edges and brush the top with oil or butter, and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Bake for 45-50 minutes on 180C, and it will be ready when your grape leaves have become a lovely crispy brown very similar to filo.
finished cheese pie wrapped in grape leaves

Lee’s pairing tips:

I am keeping it carb free here (yet Greek inspired), so I would have to go with rack of lamb, Greek salad, and a bit of ouzo for good measure. Also, this is a great dish to pre-make and bring it to any BBQ or day at the park.

Happy summer!


You can find more information about Katerina’s cookery holidays here or even read what NotInTheGuideBooksguest, Suzanne, thought about her Greek cooking holiday in Poros.

Or, feel free to explore our full range of Greek cookery holidays here.