Enjoy this traditional Greek fresh pumpkin pie dessert. It’s a much healthier alternative to the canned pumpkin pies that most Americans are familiar with. Recipe by Diane Kohilas. More Greek recipes.
- 1 cup/240 ml water
- 1/2 cup/100 g sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/2 tablespoon/8 ml fresh, strained lemon juice
- 1 one-inch/2.5-cm strip of orange zest
- 2 1/2 cups grated fresh pumpkin
- ½ cup/60 g sugar
- 1 cup/120 g ground walnuts
- 1/2 cup light, seedless raisins
- 2 scant teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/3 to ½ cup dried breadcrumbs or sweet trahana
- 12 sheets thin commercial phyllo pastry, defrosted and at room temperature
- 1/2 cup/120 ml extra-virgin Greek olive oil or an combination of melted butter and olive oil
- Confectioner’s sugar for dusting
Make the syrup: Bring the water and sugar to a boil. Reduce heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the cinnamon stick. Lemon juice and zest. Simmer on low heat for ten minutes. Remove and cool completely.
Make the pie filling: Place grated pumpkin in a colander and place a plate, weighted down with cans or some other weight, on top. Let the pumpkin drain for 1 hour. Squeeze the excess moisture out of the pumpkin either by hand or by placing it in a cheesecloth and twisting until all the water comes out.
Transfer to a mixing bowl and toss with the sugar, walnuts, raisins, cinnamon powder, nutmeg and cloves. Add a third of a cup of the breadcrumbs or trahana, and additional if the filling seems to damp. It should be moist without any pools of liquid at all.
Lightly oil a 12-inch/30-cm round baking pan. Preheat the oven to 350°F/170 °C. On a clean, dry work surface, place the stack of phyllo vertically in front of you. Keep covered with a dry cloth and a slightly damp cloth over that.
Take the first sheet, brush with olive oil, and place in the pan, horizontally, with the ends of the phyllo hanging over the rim of the pan. Repeat with the next 6 sheets of phyllo, brushing each with olive oil and placing them concentrically one on top of the other so that the ends hang over the rim of the pan star-like and there is more or less an equal amount of phyllo hanging over the pan’s perimeter all around.
Spread the filling evenly over the last layer of phyllo. Cover the pie in the same way, laying 6 sheets of phyllo, each brushed with olive oil, star-like over the top.
Using kitchen shears, trim the top and bottom overhanging phyllo so that it extends beyond the perimeter of the pan by about 1 ½ – 2 inches, or 4 – 5 cm. Joining the top and bottom overhanging phyllo, turn it inwards over the surface, crimping a little as you go, to form a decorative ring around the perimeter of the pie. Score or poke 4-5 holes in the phyllo and brush the top layer with olive oil. Bake for about 50 minutes, or until the phyllo is golden and crisp and the filling set. Remove and slowly pour the syrup over the pie. Tilting the pan so that it is distributed evenly. Let the pie stand for at least an hour. Dust the pie lightly with confectioner’s sugar. Serve.