If you read this blog regularly, you’ll know I’m always making hortopita or green pie, a version of spanakopita, that Greek pastry with spinach and cheese filling. My pie uses wild and cultivated greens. I remember this pie when I lived on Crete in the mid-1970s. I didn’t eat meat in those years so I was grateful for something so delicious and nutritious. The mother of the man I loved used to gather greens for the pie she made for his restaurant and I loved watching her sort them before cooking them. She was keeping an eye out for snails and other critters that wouldn’t have been welcome on the plates of thsoe who ate in her son’s establishment.
We’ve had a very wet June thus far. The day before yesterday, before dinner, there was the most torrential rain I think I’ve ever experienced on this coast. (The one that caught us in St. John’s a few years ago as we walked from our B&B to The Rooms rivalled it but—could this be true?—it came at us sideways so our umbrella made no difference.) When I went out for greens for my pie, I was astonished at the growth in the garden. This, despite the slugs. I cut a huge bowl of kale, dandelion leaves, buckhorn plantain, chicory, and chickweed (there’s a clump growing around a calamondin orange that I never pull out because it makes such a good addition to the pie). The chives are more like scallions this year, big and healthy. And the curly parsley is heading towards flowering so I want to use as much of it as possible.
Tonight, one of my favourite suppers: this monsoon pie with dollops of yoghourt green with dill; leftover tabbouli from last night (that parsley…); and roasted carrot salad with garlic and mint. A few glasses of wine and we’ll think we’re lounging by the Mediterranean, not huddled by our woodstove when the rain starts again. In her wonderful book, Honey from a Weed, Patience Gray provides all sorts of information on wild foods and their history. I love this old Carrarese saying: Chi vo far ‘na bona zena i magn’un erb ‘d’tut la mena: Who wants to eat a good supper should eat a weed of every kind.