The Autumn colours in Launceston, Tasmania are simply spectacular. Last weekend, Mr K and I spent two days, one day in the glorious vineyards of the Tamar Valley - soaking in the beautiful, warm autumn colours and the second at the the misty, prehistoric-looking Cataract Gorge. It was so wonderful to see and feel the season changing, which we rarely get to do in Sydney, with its temperate weather. The colours were so intense and they reminded us both, so much of our recent travels through the vineyards of Tuscany, last autumn.
The cool climate wines of the Tamar Valley were equally as spectacular as the autumn colours. Josef Chromy, Goaty Hill and Holm Oak were particular standouts. Incredible scenery and equally incredible wines, can only result in one thing - a picnic among the vines. Inspired by the warm colour pallet, this pumpkin and feta pie, known in Greek as kolokythopita was just perfect for the picnic basket, along with some olives, beautiful Tasmanian cheese and fruit.
In the Peloponnesus, my father in law's mother used to regularly make this pie in the Autumn and winter. Last Autumn, my father in law grew a truly huge pumpkin in his wonderful garden. Thinking up uses for the pumpkin, he recalled the pie and carefully wrote down the recipe for me. The pie uses a traditional Greek dried pasta, called hylopites. The small pasta squares were traditionally made to be a staple for the winter larder. They not only add to the taste of the pie, but also to the texture - soaking up the juice from the grated pumpkin. In other parts of Greece, such as the Ionian Islands, rice is used instead of the pasta. For a play on sweet and savoury, you could also add a small handful of currants to the pumpkin mixture.
500 grams of pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and grated
200 grams of Goat's feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup of olive oil (plus extra for brushing)
1 cup of hylopites
3 eggs beaten (plus 1 extra for brushing, mixed with a little water)
salt and pepper to taste
1 packet of Filo/phyllo dough
1-2 tablespoons of sesame seeds
1. Preheat the oven to 200˚C.
2. Combine all the ingredients (except the dough and sesame seeds) in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper.
3. Use half of the dough to line the bottom and sides of the pan, brushing each layer with olive oil.
4. Pour the mixture evenly over the dough.
5. Place the remaining dough sheets over the baking dish, brushing each with olive oil before adding the next and trim the edges. Brush the top of the pie with egg/water mix and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
6. Bake until the pie is golden and crisp, about 45 minutes. Let cool and into squares before serving.