Fresh wild greens, aromatic fresh herbs and olive oil all wrapped in a simple dough = handheld heaven! Pitas (or singular, pita) are a general word to describe hand held pies of all sorts. The variety of fillings is endless, many many of which are traditionally meat/dairy free. This particular pita, marathopita, comes from the island of Crete where wild fennel runs, well, wild!
Fennel Pies (Marathopites) [Vegan]
- 3 cups flour (1 1/2 cups all purpose and 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat – or combination of your choice)
- 1 cup water (room temperature)
- 2 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 1/2 tbsp white vinegar (or if you have, raki)
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 2 cups fennel leaves, chopped fine
- 1 cup spinach chopped fine (or dandelions, vleeta, mustard greens – any wild greens)
- 1/2 cup onions, minced finely
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- ** 3/4 cup olive oil for frying – 1 tbsp per pancake
- Cut the stalks from the fennel bulb, then snip off the fennel fronds/leaves from their stems and chop them very finely. Add these to a medium size bowl and then add whatever additional greens and fresh herbs, all chopped fine. Chop onion to a fine mince and set aside in a small, separate bowl.
- Sauté the onions over low heat until soft and almost translucent. Add the fennel fronds/leaves, greens, herbs and salt to the pan. Stir well to combine all ingredients and warm filling over low heat for just 5 minutes to release the oils and aromas of the fennel and herbs and wilt the greens, not cook them. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix dough dry ingredients well to combine and add remaining ingredients, stirring until ball forms. Knead for about 4-5 minutes until ball becomes smooth.
- Use a 1/3 cup measuring scoop of dough pinched off of the whole piece. Roll each scoop into a ball on a floured surface. Flour your rolling pin and roll out each ball into a thin circle.
- Add approx 1 rounded tablespoon of fennel filling to the center of each circle. Gently pinch up the sides of your circle so that you end up with a little bundle.
- Gently punch down the sides of each bundle into the center so that you have a fat pancake of filled dough. Then, again with a floured rolling pin, carefully roll out the fat pancake of filled dough into a very flat circle once again.
- Roll out all of your filled bundles and collect on a baking sheet. Now they’re ready to either freeze with with sheets of parchment paper between pancakes or fry immediately. Brush each pita with olive oil as it comes out of the pan.
- Garnish with chopped fennel fronds/leaves and chopped thin fennel stalks. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.