Well, with my forgotten English I would like to share with you, other language speaking friends, acquaintances, random readers and food lovers, a new recipe, a traditional one. It is simply called Aromanian pie because I am Aromanian and it is done by all Aromanian women since I don’t know when. I will not get into historical and mythological facts, as I, myself get lost in them too, but I will explain, my way, what are Aromanians, for short. They are people like all these over 7 billion in this world, who live mostly in the Balkan Peninsula and who speak an old and almost lost language, Aromanian and they are close relatives to Romanians. How close or not, I will let the historians and others decide, the thing is that their songs, their costumes, their traditions, their food are unique and if you are interested in them just check my youtube channel, my mom’s youtube channel and others on youtube for music mostly, read Irina Nicolau’s book “Aromanian. Beliefs and traditions”, check Proiect Avdhela – The Library of Aromanian Culture, Gustav Weigand’s new published book “. ”ARMÂNII – ȚARĂ ȘI OAMENI””, 1st volume, etc. There are many resources to check, feel free and open minded, mostly. Google is here to help 😉
Ok, let’s get back to our business. This pie was eaten exactly on the first day of this year. How can I forget, right? I was visiting my godson and his family. His grandma offered me this pie and it was absolutely delicious. It reminded me of the pies my grandma did, decades ago and I asked for the recipe. She generously shared it with me and now I do the same with you. I did it myself too, a couple of weeks ago and it was not as good as my godson’s grandma, Cati, but I think I know better for the next time. So, here it is an old and tasty traditional recipe of a pie.
Aromanian Pie (Cati’s Pie)
Servings: countless, as many as you get from an oven tray.
- 500 g flour
- about 100-150 ml of water
- a pinch of salt (don’t cripple the knife, you know what I mean;)) )
- about 3-4 tbsp oil
- about 4-6 tbsp melted lard (if you haven’t got any, go for butter, 80-82% fat)
- 500-700 gr spinach/ garden patience/ nettle, a combination of these or any other green leaves that work in any combination
- approximately 500 g salty cheese (not extremely salty but fatty)
- 2-3 medium size eggs (preferably free range)
- Mix flour with oil, water, salt into a kneading bowl and well … knead. Besides the flour and salt, put the rest of the ingredients slowly and check until the dough is not too soft nor too hard, so that means that you can add more water and oil if needed. Knead the dough until no longer sticks on the walls of the bowl.
- Divide the dough into two equal parts. Spread a sheet from the first part, not very thick nor very thin. Use a traditional paddle called shtzala (it looks funny, in Aromanian would be written like this: șțala) or a longer paddle. In fact the traditional one looks like a paddle without handles, which allows the dough to be stretched into bigger and thinner sheets. Spread 2-3 tablespoons lard or butter on the pie sheet (for my first attempt I put less lard and the sheets were less crounchy). Fold it in 3 parts the sheet then cover with cling film. Repeat the same steps with the second pie sheet. Put them in the fridge for about an hour or overnight.
- After an hour or after a day, start preparing the filling. Put the spinach or any greenery in a pan over medium heat together with 1-2 cups of water and stir until it becomes paste and the water evaporates more or less. Add the eggs and the cheese (crumbled with a fork) and leave for about 1-2 minutes on the heat then remove. You can use also frozen spinach, it is as good.
- Take the dough from the refrigerator and stretch the sheets on a table sprinkled with a little flour. Sprinkle a little flour on sheet and start rolling. I use a tray that measures 20 cm wide by 35 cm length (inside) but if you happen to have a tray a little bigger than this, you adapt. As long as it is not too big. Make sure you leave about 2 cm more of the sheet for the folding of the edges.
- Put again a thin layer of room warm butter/ lard on top and place the first sheet in the tray. If it is too big, just arrange the sheet so it fits. Add all the filling. Spread a bit of lard/ butter/ oil on the second sheet and put it with the oily side on the filling. Do not forget to fold the edges of the sheets, otherwise the filling will get out. Brush a little sheen of oil or warm butter/ lard on top. This will prevent the dough to harden. Place the tray in a medium heated oven at about 200 ° C / 400 F for 25-30 minutes. My oven is not that high-tech, so I use my head and eyes and nose and common sense when I cook, so you use them too.
- Remove the pie when browned a little on top and put a few drops of water all over. That keeps the dough soft and easy to cut and bite. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and possibly a plastic bag or cellophane to keep a bit of moisture in. When it cools, just cut it in same size pieces and serve with yogurt. I like it so. 🙂