Snapshots from Greece: Spanikopita's Cousin, Hortopita


Will the real spanikopita please stand up.

Whoever's running the spanikopita marketing campaign really deserves a raise. I was in Greece for almost a week before I realized that what I thought was spanikopita—layers of crispy phyllo dough stuffed with a cheesy, leafy green mess of joy—actually wasn't. It was hortopita, a savory pie cousin that contains horta, or edible wild greens such as dandelions, chard, kale, and lamb's quarters.

Horta directly translates as "grass" in Greek, but refers to about 80 different greens (step aside, spinach) growing all over the country—alongside highways, in fields, and many other places with dirt. It's delicious alone (sauteed with lemon and olive oil) but obviously a few hundred times better when feta and layered pastry sheets are involved.

You can find hortopita in bakeries all over Greece, usually in a big tray ready to be cubed out. Whether eaten as a snack or small meal, hortopita is much more common than spanikopita because it doesn't have to be limited to just spinach. Greeks can be more flexible with hortopita, using whatever greens are lying around.

If Popeye and Paula Deen ever raised children together, I think they'd fatten them up with hortopita, spanikopita, or anything else from this delicious vegetable-stuffed pastry family.


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