Kolokythopita – “Greek Pumpkin Pita”

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I can’t believe it is almost November, and even almost 2012! Where has the time gone?

Now that school has begun, the days fly by and Monday to Friday seems to come and go faster than I can keep up with. Thankfully though, life is really good right now. Amidst all the turmoil this country is facing and the extreme austerity measures we are forced to adapt to, we still feel very blessed. We are still being taken care of on a daily basis: we have shelter, food, work, health, love, and an abundance of so many more daily joys!

I know life can get rough at times, I have been there and also know that those times will come again with new challenges and new lessons to learn. But for now, we are truly enjoying joy and thankfulness. Life is such a gift. It is hard for me to watch/read about the news because, to be honest…  it scares the crap out of me. I start thinking, “what if…” and that opens the door for the foothold of fear and absence of faith to take hold. There are just so many tragedies among us that it very easily unsettles me. I am constantly reminding myself to not only be thankful for the time I have, but to also make the most of this time!

Beginning in the month of November, I am going to start a “Thankfulness List”, I want to begin each  morning with 3-5 things I am thankful for and to truly live with a thankful heart! I also am going to try to do at least one thing everyday for someone else, so I know for sure they they can be thankful if they choose too! Would you like to join me on this challenge to become more thankful? I really hope that you will.

pumpkin photo 1 Kolokythopita   Greek Pumpkin Pita

Now onto food that I am thankful for, pumpkins!!!! As you can see above, I found a pumpkin here on the island but it isn’t the fat jack-0-lantern kind to carve. Pumpkins here are used for baking and not so much for the decorating and lighting a fire inside purpose. You also can’t find canned pumpkin anywhere, so if you want a pumpkin pie you have to make it from scratch, a first for me!

Greek pumpkin pies/pitas are very different from the American versions. Wrapped in phyllo sheets rather than a pastry crust, made from fresh grated pumpkin rather than cooked and pureed, and lightly seasoned rather than infused with multiple spices. And although these are two very different pies, the pumpkin flavor in both remains the gem of the dessert.

kolokythopita view 3 Kolokythopita   Greek Pumpkin Pita

My first experience with the Greek version of pumpkin pie was a completely homemade one from my grandmother (in-law), I mean she made her own phyllo and everything! It was really delicious with the tender yet slightly crunchy phyllo sheets encasing a subtle but perfect combination of pumpkin, cinnamon, and raisins. I liked it and wanted more!!!

Then one day I walked into a tiny bakery in Mytilene to buy some bread and a slice or two of their wonderful homemade spanikopita! To my surprise I saw another pie sitting next to the spinach one that said, “kolokythopita” (pumpkin pita). I ordered two slices so I could share with my husband, and after just one bite we were both convinced that we needed to find ourselves a pumpkin!

Then, last weekend we went for a hike in the north part of the island. On our way home we passed by some local farmers sitting along the road selling various treasures, including pumpkins – they even had white pumpkins which I am not sure I had seen before! We bought a big orange one and began to anticipate the (hopefully) delicious pie that we would be enjoying later. And we did!

DSC 0286 2 Kolokythopita   Greek Pumpkin Pita

Greek Pumpkin Pie “Kolokythopita” Recipe:

Printable Recipe
1 pkg phyllo sheets
1 small, sweet pumpkin (2-3 lbs)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar 
2-3 tsp. cinnamon 
dash of ginger and nutmeg, optional
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup milk or cream
1/3 cup short grain rice
1/3 cup raisins or 1/2 cup very small fresh green grapes, optional
oil and/or butter for brushing phyllo
 
Grate the fresh pumpkin and let set in sink to drain excess juice, squeezing in your hands occasionally to help release the juices. Combine all ingredients together and mix well, again letting set for about an hour this time to combine flavors. 
 
Take out your phyllo and cover with a damp cloth. I use a mixture of oil and melted butter to brush on my phyllo, but you can use all oil or all butter if you prefer. Begin brushing about a 12″ round or square baking tin. Now, you have two options for making your pie. You can spiral roll it (like the pictures here) or you can simply layer 4-5 phyllo on the bottom and another 4-5 for the top. Whichever you choose, just be sure to grease your phyllo, lightly but evenly on every sheet. Put in a preheated oven at 375°/ 190° and bake for 45-60 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Let cool to warm, top with powdered sugar, and serve with a cup of coffee!!! Reheat each time you serve later to crunch up the phyllo and warm the center filling!   
 

I have yet to try this with my own homemade phyllo, but I bought a much larger pumpkin and already have some filling waiting in the freezer for me.

The fresh grapes may also sound a bit weird but that is what the small bakery here uses and it surprisingly a nice addition. I used raisins since grapes are now out of season, but they too added a nice flavor.

kolokithopita Kolokythopita   Greek Pumpkin Pita

I also tried to make a homemade American pie from scratch, and although I am not a huge pumpkin pie fan this was pretty good. Some friends we had over just raved about how much they liked it, but I think it was also because it was their first experience trying it. I must say that it is creamier and more subtle in flavor, yet still spicy and pumpkiny (not a real word!). I don’t have pictures to show you because 1) it wasn’t very pretty and 2) it was gone before I was able to take any!

I would love for you to try this Greek version of an American classic, and if you do or already have, please let me know what you think!

Thanks for stopping by and kali orexi,

Jacquline

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6 Responses to “Kolokythopita – “Greek Pumpkin Pita””

  • Suzie O.:

    ANy substitutions for real pumpkin..its July and I want to make this! can I used canned pumpkin?

    Nice job on the website!

    Thank you.

    • Absolutely… I kind of wish they would have sold canned pumpkin in Greece at the time! It will save you a lot of time, although it was nice making it from scratch just because I had a lot of time on my hands then :) Thank you for stopping by!

  • [...] made kolokithopita or Greek pumpkin pie. Her recipe was similar to mine, but she added some sweet onions to hers. [...]

  • Yota:

    Just want you to know love your blog, and now I really want to try this recipe, especially with the weird grapes!

  • Nat:

    Jac-

    I like your thankfulness list. Did I tell you I was reading a book called 1000 gifts by Ann Voskamp and it is the same idea. It suggests that the main root sin of many of us is ingratitude. I think you would like the book. But, i have my list… not very far yet, but coming along.

    And, now I will be cheesy, but that is part of the reason you love me. And I am thankful for you and your steadfast love and encouragement!! Love you!
    - Nat

  • Ellen Ximena Carvalho:

    Jac,
    I want you to know how I absolutelly love your blog! I was talking to Alice the other day and we were both saying how great it is… so beautiful, fun and yummi! Hope you are doing great, girl! Lots of peace from our Savior!

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Hi! My name is Jacquline. Welcome to my blog. I hope you will find some delicious Greek food recipes and enjoy the read along the way! Kali Orexi :)

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