9 March 2011

Pita Strifti me Solomo: Salmon and Leek Pie with Filo Dough

Pita Strifti meSolomo (Salmon and Leek Pie with Filo

Anyone who's tried a piece of baklava can attest to the magical qualities that filo dough brings to a dish. This special dough, also known as fillo or phyllo is most often used in the pastries and filled pies typical of Greek cuisine. Light, crisp, and delicious, anything made with filo dough is sure to please, but this dough has a reputation for being difficult to work with. It takes a little bit of special handling but the end result is well worth the effort. 

With longer days fast approaching, the greenhouses open and pansies on the patio Spring is heavily on my mind. Whenever I think of Spring I think of salmon. The two seem to be synonymous with each other! I had some Sockeye salmon in the freezer so this recipe came to mind to take for weekday lunches.

Another sure sign of Spring are subtly flavoured Spring leeks. They have a subtle fresh springtime flavour. Picked before maturity, robed in half-white, half-green, they are generally thinner than winter leeks. Their fibers are thin and unassertive. Their texture is solid yet tender, so they cook quickly. This recipe is for four meal- or snack-sized filo pies.

This fabulous coiled pita (filled filo pastry) is made with salmon, leeks, feta cheese, and herbs. These little hand pies are perfect for taking for lunch or on picnics. Traditional strifti is made with homemade filo which lends its own particular texture and allows you to create long snake like shapes perfect for coiling. In a perfect world I would be making my own filo dough, but hey I am not perfect!

Part of the fun of filo is its art. You can fold filo dough into a variety of different shapes, from cones and tubes to pouches to strudels. The Greek name for the shape used today is strifti (streef-TEE) which means twisted, to describe its spiral shape. I had also read that in Northern Greece these are known as boureki.

I tried a vegetarian version of these pita shapes in Meteora in Greece. Their twisted shape reminded me of the rock formations on the Plains of Thessaly in Greece. Twenty four medieval monasteries perch precariously on top of the eerily shaped pinnacles of rock command attention with their varied architecture, brilliant frescoes, and magnificent icons. It is a strange but breathtaking landscape that has been sculpted by wind and water over thousands of years. In the the past there were no steps and the main access to the monasteries was by means of a net that was hitched over a hook and hoisted up by rope and a hand cranked windlass overhanging the chasm. Today although all monasteries are intact only 6 monasteries survive as museums with stairs rising to the top for visitors to climb. They are sparsely populated by a few monks and nuns that you see periodically but they offer a rare glimpse into Orthodox monastic life.

 It is here that we met an Orthodox priest from Cuba who was visiting and discussed his religion and how it was honoured in his home country. James Bond fans will recognize one of the 24 monasteries from the 1981 movie For Your Eyes Only. Even though not everyone rises before the morning sun, at one time ancient bells from the monasteries continually echoed amongst the rocks, calling for prayer those who commit themselves to a religious following. That would have been something to see!!!

**Pita Strifti me Solomo(Salmon and Leek Pie with Filo Dough)**
loosely based on a recipe from About.com

For poaching salmon:

2 cups water
1/2 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth
1 lemon, sliced
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
2 sprigs dill or 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
2-3 salmon steaks, about 1 pound

For Strifti:

cooked and flaked salmon (as above)
 7 ounces of feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup fresh ricotta
1/2 of a leek (use both green and white parts), chopped
2 tablespoons of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon of fresh chopped dill
8-16 sheets filo pastry (18” x 14”)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 350F.

To poach salmon: Combine 2 cups water, wine, lemon, peppercorns and dill in large skillet. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes. Add salmon steaks, cover and simmer gently 5 minutes (a little longer for steaks thicker than 1/2-inch), or until fish flakes easily with fork. Lift steaks from cooking liquid with a slotted spatula. Flake salmon removing bones and set aside.

Meanwhile saute chopped leeks in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat for 2 - 3 minutes.

In medium bowl add flaked salmon, sauteed leeks, feta, ricotta, pepper and chopped dill in a medium bowl; mix well.

To make the pastries, take a sheet of filo pastry (take care to keep the other sheets covered to prevent them from drying out – a damp tea towel is good for this) and lay it on your board/workspace. Brush the whole sheet with melted butter. Along one end, put an eighth of the filling (about 2 heaping tablespoons) and then roll up the entire sheet – you should have a long cylinder of filo pastry with the filling through the middle. Coil the cylinder into a snail shape. Lay the pastry on a lined baking sheet and brush the tops and sides with more melted butter. Scatter spirals with sesame seeds. Repeat with the rest of the filo sheets and the filling.

Place the spirals on a non-stick cookie sheet. When all the pastries are ready, slip the tray into the oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown.
This Salmon and Leek Filo Pie can be served warm, but it's delicious at room temperature. Serve as a main dish or snack.

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author/owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison. Best Blogger Tips


  1. Nice filling for the strifti pita. The leeks and dill should balance out the salmon's pronounced flavour.

  2. Love these little pies Vall, look really delicious! gloria

  3. It's been a long time since I've worked with filo but these look worth reviving my (limited) skills. That is a wonderful photo of the monastery. One must truly have faith to access it!


  4. Gorgeous recipe! Perfect for spring.

  5. Wow the pies looks scrumptious and gorgeous photos.

  6. A heavenly speciality! Wonderful flavors. I love Greece and Greek food. I would love to visit that site...



  7. Beautiful!

    If you don't mind me asking ... what's the purpose of simmering the liquid for ten minutes before adding the salmon? If it's just to reduce the liquid, then I would think you could just not put so much water in it? Is the ten minutes all for the lemon? Thanks!

  8. Hi Drifter, Your question is a good one. The main reason for reducing the liquid is to infuse the poaching liquid with flavour.... peppercorns, dill, lemon will permeate into the salmon once added for subtle flavour. Thanks for your question.

  9. Your salmon and leek pies look wonderful! I can just imagine the flavors together with that beautiful and flaky phyllo wrapping.

    Loved reading about the monasteries!

  10. Baklava is one of my all time favorite treats in the world. These are just beautiful, and if you turn away for just a second, I might be able to snatch one...
    Hey... isn't that George Clooney?...
    *kisses* HH

  11. Wish I had one of these for lunch today...it's always Spring here (except for when it's summer which is half the year). Great job on the coiling!!

  12. Valerie, feta AND ricotta??? Beautiful! Salmon is one of my very favourite foods, I could eat it every day!

  13. You've really upped the ante here Val! Great flavours and I love how you stepped outside the norm and used salmon. I'm going to borrow this idea for some autumn pies...it's a great inspiration!

  14. What a beautiful dish, Val. I haven't worked with phyllo in ages and you've inspired me to bake with it again. The filling sounds like it compliments the salmon perfectly.

  15. Val, I want one of these packages, you did a beautiful job, the ingredients sound amazing, feta, ricotta and leeks all coiled up with the salmon, yumm. Your photo is so inticing!!

  16. This is a beautiful dish, Val. Somethings are worth the effort involved. I think this is one of them. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  17. The strifti shape looks so great, and I love the flavors in the filling. I wish I had these waiting for me for lunch today! Amazing photo of the rock formations and monastery too. Must be incredible to see in person!

  18. What a good use for the phyllo in my freezer. Minus the salmon, of course.

  19. Love, love, love that picture from Greece, Val! Sigh, it makes me want to pack up and travel right now. :-) This recipe is fantastic. I can't wait to try it!!

  20. What gorgeous pockets of salmon, Val! I would so love to visit Greece someday, on my bucket list! I always learn so much from your posts!

  21. The texture of baklava is definitely a beautiful beautiful thing! And so is salmon. And so are the two combined. Not that I've ever had that but...based on your pictures it looks fantastic!

  22. Love using phyllo for lots of things, Val. Your strifti looks such fun to make and I love the flavors. Feta, ricotta and dill are perfect with salmon. I am anxious to try this.

  23. Val...it is really wonderful..I enjoy using phyllo. I can devour this strifti right now.

  24. Wow, these filo dough savory pastries sound amazing! The salmon filling must be fantastic!

  25. ah, phyllo dough. it is indeed a magical ingredient, and while i doubt anything will ever top baklava as my favorite phyllo-containing creation, this one would give a fine fight!

  26. Every time I've used filo pastry, the outcome has always been successful and popular. Although, I do admit to being a little lazy about using it at times.

    Great recipe Val, thanks.

    Ciao for now,

  27. What a beautiful looking dish, Val. I love how you stretch yourself in the kitchen continually. Though you have said many times that your place is so tiny, it is certainly the kitchen with the biggest heart!
    In Vanja's country, and in Greece, there is a similarly shaped food called burek which I am in the process of learning to make... it is the phyllo that the woman all make by hand that is phenomenal to see and eat that is the hard part. They take these on picnics, too...
    I loved how you related the topography to the food.
    I haven't posted anything for two weeks and I don't think that has ever happened before. I am deep in the throws of planning a local food conference with Slow Food here and been quite consumed by it. Great time for a great cause, but I have missed my kitchen, my hobby and reading my favourite blogs! I will catch up in the next few days, I hope!


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