Kale, Walnut and Ricotta Kalitsounia with Vodka Pastry

I featured a recipe a few months back for kalitsounia (little pies) made with dandelion. While I don't like to mess too much with traditional recipes (I tend to think that they are there for a reason - someone's yiayia has perfected it over time) I started getting a creative with both the pastry and filling for these little pies.

Chania, Crete
Largely, my inspiration came from thinking about elements of the Mediterranean diet, particularly the Cretan diet. On our last trip to Crete, I really enjoyed the diversity of flavours and spices. A significant proportion of Greek cooking has a fairly traditional spice palate, being rigani, cinnamon, allspice berries, nutmeg, mastiha, mahlepi and vanilla. Spices are also used with a very cautious hand. However, Cretan chefs seem to have embraced a wider spice palate, including cumin, coriander, sesame seeds and other spices. Perhaps this is due to Crete's geographic position and passing traders or the influence of Ottoman occupation. Whatever the reason, I knew that cumin had to feature in my latest creation - along with some wild greens, walnuts and cheeses. The diversity of cheese available in Crete is also quite amazing. Unfortunately in Australia, our capacity to get our hands on some traditional Cretan cheese is very limited - while I would love to have used some mizithra, full fat ricotta was a good stand in! 

For the pastry, good Greek olive oil and vodka in place of traditional raki
As for the pastry, I added some vodka, in a nod to the traditional use of raki in Cretan pastry - along with some beautiful vibrant green olive oil. In terms of the flour, I have used half plain white flour and half wholemeal flour. The use of wholemeal flour brings out the lovely walnut flavours in the filling and also gives the pastry that kind of "bakery in the local village" consistency. In terms of how the pastry is actually folded, kalitsounia can be round (as featured in the latest SBS Feast Magazine), spiral shaped, half moons - or square. While travelling in Crete, I was advised that the best shape to go with if you are using a very soft cheese is square as it prevents the pastry from breaking down and becoming watery while the cheese cooks. 

Spinach kalitsounia from the central market in Chania, the variety of herbs and spices available in the market and taverna's in the back lanes of Chania. 
For sunny afternoon mezedes, I served these little pies along with a dish of ripe tomatoes, roasted with fat cloves of purple streak garlic. Perfected washed down with a very light but slightly spice red wine from Greece. Kali orexi! 

Kale, Walnut and Ricotta Kalitsounia with vodka pastry 

2 large bunches of tuscan kale, or other green of your choice
1 large red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup of olives 
100g of walnuts, crushed and toasted
200g of full fat ricotta (fat reduced as it is way too watery)
1/2 cup of grated kefalograveria (or parmesan)
1 teaspoon of cumin
salt and pepper

1 cup plain white flour
1 cup wholemeal flour
1 tablespoon of vodka
4 tablespoons of olive oil
1 cup luke warm water 

1. Clean and rinse your greens. Strain well and sauté in a pan with onions in a little olive oil. 

2. Add the olives, walnuts and cumin. When the mixture has cooled mix in the cheeses and then season to taste. 

3. To make the pastry, mix the vodka and olive oil. Add a little salt and a tiny bit of water. Gradually add the combined flours and more of the water until the dough holds together and is not sticky. If too runny, add flour. If to dry and a little water. 

4. On a lightly floured board, roll out the dough and cut into small rectangles. Spoon a little on the filling (about a heaped teaspoon) into each rectangle and close in the edges (Leave a little gap for the steam from the cheeses to escape)

5. Heat olive oil in a non stick frying pan, and fry the little pies on either side. Serve warm. 


  1. Mrs Mulberry, I love this. And I love visiting your blog. You always take me to faraway, beautiful places... sunshine and delicious food! So very glad I found you!

  2. Thanks Lizzy, I'm so glad you enjoy my little musings!! I'm just planning my next o/s trip, so will hopefully have lots more travel inspiration for you soon : )


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