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The book: Food and Life in the Blue Zone Ikaria by Meni Valle is one of my absolute favorite and very well-used cookbooks for everyday cooking.

Truthfully, I was hesitant to dive in because I knew it would take me to a dream world I might not ever get back to in real life. When I lived in Turkiye and traveled along the Aegean Coast, I was always trying to get to Ikaria, but could never make it.

The adventurer inside of me remembered my young self..

When I was just 19 years old, I became a solo traveler through Europe, by accident. I was visiting my family in Sicily when I got the travel bug to see more and more, so I hopped on a train to Bari and took a ferry through the Adriatic and landed on the island of Corfu.

This was way back before the internet, blogs and social media hailed the glories of solo travels, women solo travelers especially, and all the hot spots to take a selfie. Instead, I was able to peacefully take photos, meet incredibly warm local villagers who showed me their gardens and invited me for fresh home-grown watermelon. I ate the purest seafood directly from Aegean, unseasoned vegetable salads that actually taught me what cucumbers are supposed to be, and spoke to village Yaiyas about their secrets to reaching old age in such a healthy way. One told me to always peel your cucumber!

While enjoying my little cup of Greek coffee and a village breakfast high up in a mountainside home for just $12 USD per night, I wrote in my diary (not a laptop or cell phone notes) a vow to myself that I would someday make a life for myself in the Mediterranean. To live in this simplicity. In this healthy air. To have neighbors, friends and family that were just as kind, happy, quiet and hard-working as the people of Corfu.

red motorcycle parked beside white concrete building during daytime
Photo by Lydia Gulinkina on Unsplash

Fast forward to now and my life looks nothing like that. I broke all the promises to myself about living in the Mediterranean. I’ve tried and feel like I failed, but I have learned to cook some pretty great things.

And I’ve learned to bring the Mediterranean lifestyle with me wherever I go, as much as I possibly can.

One way I do that is to eat as many greens as possible. To get as much sunshine as possible. To keep inspiring myself with stories, books, and recipes about the Mediterranean so that I can share that with all of you.

So I wanted to bring you a recipe this week that invokes both sides of the Aegean Sea, yet shared in both Greece and Turkiye. This is my specific take on it, my version, with the greens that I could find: Aegean Village Greens Pie. It’s not a sweet “pie”. Pie in this culinary cultural context is savory.

Aegean Village Greens Pie

Serves 6

I always tell people not to be intimidate by fillo dough. It’s much more forgiving than you think. I’m not including a recipe for homemade fillo dough now, because first I want you to get used to sourcing and cooking- and enjoyably eating those greens!

First, go out and look for greens- not just spinach. I promise you, you’ll find them. Also, spring onions and leeks (leave out the leeks if you can’t find them, it’s okay):

  • Spinach
  • Dandelions
  • Beets (you’ll use only the greens)
  • Swiss Chard (any variety)
  • Spring onions
  • Leeks

Next, I want you to look for fresh herbs and onions. Please try to avoid dried herbs for this recipe, except for dried thyme.

  • Dill
  • Parsley (flat leaf, if possible)
  • Mint

Next, I want you to find the creamiest feta cheese possible:

For me, the best one is the Macedonian style feta cheese (more readily found in Canada). You can use other types of feta, but in my opinion most are way too dry except for perhaps the Valbreso brand French Feta Cheese, which is more easily found in the U.S. I think I may have even seen it at Costco…

*I used Sotidakis Goat Feta Chevre (from Costco) once and it was good, but not moist enough for this recipe, in my opinion.*

If you can’t find either, then so be it – just use what you can find.

Lastly, find a good fillo dough (in the freezer section of most Mediterranean and Middle Eastern markets, as well as most grocery stores). My go-tos are Fillo Factory Organic or Krinos, but you can really use any that work for savory pies. Just make sure they’re not shaped like a triangle or molded into cups- that’s for other types of fillo dishes. You’re going to bring the fillo home and put it in the refrigerator. But not for too many days (3-4 days tops), otherwise it will start to get moldy.

You’ll probably have the rest of the ingredients on hand at home, but just in case:

  • A really great quality olive oil (that should be part of your cooking at all times, anyway, not just for this recipe). Might I be a little bit proud and mention our beloved Oil of Anatolia from Turkiye?
  • Farm fresh eggs
  • Black seed or sesame seeds (whichever you wish to top the spinach pies with)
  • Milk, for mixing with oil or butter, to wash the fillo
  • Silicone pastry brush
  • Rectangular deep pan (i.e. lasagna pan is good but a bit large). Round pans are okay but you’ll have to fanagle the fillo, which can be annoying

Measurements of Ingredients:

Approximately 3 cups cooked greens mixture (see below)

Fresh or dried garlic or garlic powder (optional)

All fresh herbs, washed, dried and roughly chopped

1-2 eggs (1 large or 2 small)

3/4 cup Feta cheese

1 teaspoon crushed black or white pepper

dry thyme or oregano (1-2 teaspoons)

1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)

1 packet fillo (also spelled “phyllo”) dough, thawed in the refrigerator

Directions for Assembling and Baking:


  1. Wash and dry all the greens and onions. If using, chop the stems of any Swiss chard finely. If using spring onions or leeks, use the white parts for this recipe by chopping them finely.
  2. In a small saute pan or pot, gently heat the olive oil. Add the onions then the stems or hardy parts of any of the greens. If you want you can add garlic (1 clove fresh) or garlic powder (1/2 teaspoon), too. Cook down until softened and set aside to cool completely.


  1. To a large bowl, add the greens. Add the herbs, eggs, feta, pepper and dried oregano or thyme and mix well. If necessary, add salt. Set this bowl aside.
  2. Prepare one cup of warm milk and add a generous drizzle of olive oil to it You can also/alternatively add a tablespoon of melted butter. This will be your wash for each layer of the fillo dough. Preheat the oven to 425 F.
  3. To the bottom of the baking pan, brush it generously with olive oil only.
  4. Open the packet of fillo dough. It will be large and rectangular. Cut it in half vertically so that you have two sections. Keep one out to work with and cover the other half with a damp towel. These pieces should fit the size of the pan with which you’re working.
  5. Brush the first layer with the milk-olive oil/butter. Continue to do this with each and every layer of this first half of fillo sheets. When you have finished the first half, pour the cooked greens/feta/egg mixture on top and level it flat with a spatula. Drizzle olive oil on top generously.
  6. Continue to use the other half of fillo sheets and brush each layer with the milk-olive oil mixture until you get to the very last layer on top. Drizzle the top generously with olive oil. Sprinkle sesame or black seeds on top and bak in the oven for 30-35 minutes.
  7. Let cool a few minutes before cutting. Serve with a fresh cucumber-tomato-olive salad, if desired.Καλή όρεξηKalí órexi / Afiyet olsun! Share Everyday Mediterranean by Yvonne Maffei if you’d like to subscribe to my culinary newsletter on Substack.

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