Tyropita me Maratho means cheese pie with wild fennel. This is a traditional cheese pie, which my mother in law used to make with feta cheese and fennel.
Marathopitakia are the smaller ones made into turnovers with a few extra ingredients.
The Greek name for fennel is marathon (μάραθον) or marathos (μάραθος), and the place of the famous battle of Marathon (Μαραθώνας), literally means a plain with fennel.
Fennel grew everywhere in their villages so one way to use it was to make pies. However, they used freshly made feta when making it, when it is still soft.
During Easter when we went to Sparti we planned to make this tyropita. Near my sister in law’s house lives a family who have sheep and they make feta often.
We wanted to buy some, however, we did not get lucky as they were not making feta during Easter.
When we came back to Athens I kept thinking of this recipe but never found fennel at the farmers’ market.
One day, a long time after Easter, I finally found some fennel at the farmers’ market.
Although it grows everywhere in the countryside, you rarely see it in the farmers market.
Coming back from the farmers’ market with lots of vegetables and herbs, I decided to make it.
Instead of using fresh feta I decided to make it with fresh xinomyzithra, which some friends sent to us from Crete.
However, you can still make it using regular feta mixed with anthotyro, which is similar to ricotta. If you use feta, be careful with the addition of salt as feta is salty.
Take a look at some other Greek tyropitas
Now that it’s summer and very hot, it’s hard to stay at home, so I have been away during the weekend and we came back last evening.
Today I made this amazing tyropita, which we ate as a main dish. To accompy it, I made this delicious Watermelon salad with grilled halloumi!
Halloumi as you know is a quite salty cheese and it pairs well with something sweet, so in Cyprus during the summer we always eat Watermelon with halloumi so I made this Watermelon Salad and ate it with the tyropita.
The combination was heavenly, each bite was simultaneously sweet, salty, spicy, minty but mostly refreshing and delicious.
For the dough:
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup tepid water plus 2 tbsp
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 500 grams xinomyzithra (or a mixture of feta and myzithra in any analogy you like)
- 1/2 cup graviera Cheese or halloumi (optional)
- 3 eggs
- 2 medium spring onions, white part and a little from the green part
- 1 cup wild fennel, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Olive oil for brushing on top
- Prepare the dough according to instructions. Only 2/3 of the recipe is necessary.
- Preheat the oven to 180o C.
- Crumble myzithra cheese and grate graviera in a big bowl.
- Add the remaining filling ingredients and mix.
- Divide the dough into two pieces. One should be bigger than the other, as it will cover the sides of the baking tin. .
- Roll out two sheets of phyllo.
- Oil a 26 cm baking tin and place the biggest phyllo, covering the sides. Stretch with your hands if necessary.
- Put the cheese filling and spread it evenly.
- Cover with the second phyllo and cut whatever pieces are hanging out of the baking tin.
- Taking both phyllos press them together to join.
- Brush the surface with olive oil.
- With a sharp knife, lightly score the phyllo into pieces.
- Bake until golden brown, for about 1 hour.
I used 2/3 of the dough. If you want to use it all, to make a bigger pie, use a 28 - 30 cm baking tin.
I added more herbs such as Swiss chard, which I boiled for 5 minutes and drained. Instead of Swiss Chard you may also use spinach.
You can fry them if you like but I preferred to bake them.
In Cyprus we would call these bourekia from the Turkish word borek and in Crete they are called kaltsounia, from the Italian Calzone.
- Leftover phyllo dough
- 2 cups xinomyzithra or feta, myzithra and graviera.
- 1 egg
- 1 spring onion, finely chopped
- 1 bunch Swiss Chard, boiled for 5 minutes, finely cut (about 1 cup)
- ½ cup dill, finely chopped
- 1 cup fennel fronds, finely chopped
- ½ cup parsley, finely chopped
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Extra olive oil for brushing on top
- Preheat the oven to 180o C / 350o F.
- Boil, drain, squeeze out all water and cut the Swiss chard into smaller pieces.
- Add all the other filling ingredients in a bowl and mix.
- Roll out sheets of phyllo and placing a small tea plate on top, as a guide, cut out circles of phyllo, about 12 cm / 7 inch diameter.
- Add a tablespoon of filling at the edge, brush edges with water and cover with the remaining half. Press with a fork to join the dough.
- Oil a baking tin and place the turnovers next to each other. Brush them with olive oil on top.
- Bake until golden brown, for about 20 – 30 minutes.
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Kopiaste and Kali Orexi!