These bite-sized crustless pies can be made with a variety of fillings ranging from spinach to herbs. In this recipe, Chef Jim Botsacos of Molyvos Restaurant in New York City uses a combination of wild greens, scallions, mint, and salty feta to create the base of each pie and tops it with a delicate polenta mixture. He serves them with a light yogurt sauce, for dipping.
These are a traditional meze offering in Greece, particularly at Easter; they are also great to serve at a cocktail party. — Allison Beck
For the greens:
For the topping:
For the greens:
Preheat a convection oven to 375 degrees with a low fan.
In a large stainless steel bowl, mix the scallions, parsley, dill, and mint along with the salt. Knead and set aside 1-2 minutes until mixture becomes slightly moist.
In a small stainless steel bowl, add the cornmeal and warm water. Mix with wooden spoon until well incorporated, then allow it to rest for 1-2 minutes, or until the water is fully absorbed.
Take the cornmeal-water mixture and add it to the scallion/herb mixture, mix well, cover and refrigerate. Let sit 20 minutes. Remove from refrigerator and fold in the remaining greens, the cheese and the olive oil. Cover and return to refrigerator for ½ hour.
Remove from the refrigerator and fold in the yogurt and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper; set aside while making the topping.
For the topping:
In a medium-sized stainless steel pot, combine the cornmeal, water, ¼ cup milk, one half of the butter, a heavy seasoning of salt, and a touch of white pepper. Use a wooden spoon to combine and place on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Once the mixture comes to a simmer it will begin to thicken (1-2 minutes). As it comes up to heat, continue to stir with wooden spoon. When stirring and the polenta holds its shape and leaves a mark on the spoon, but doesn’t stick to the spoon, it’s ready. Remove from heat, stir in the remaining butter along with 2 tablespoons of the grated kefalotyri cheese, dill, and the lemon zest.
Place a silicone non-stick mini muffin pan (1 ½-ounce size) on a sheet pan lightly coat each muffin cup with a non-stick spray. Take a 1 ½ ounce scoop of the greens and place in the muffin pan, making sure that the scoop is flush. Once the tray is full, lightly press the mixture down so that its level.
Take the reserved polenta topping and whisk in the reserved 2 tablespoons of milk to thin out the polenta topping. The consistency should be that of a light mashed potato.
Dip 2 teaspoons in cold water. Take a teaspoon of the polenta mixture and, using the back of the other spoon, scoop it off onto the top of each pie; continue until all the pies have been covered. Try to use the spoons to evenly distribute the polenta over the top of each individual pie so that each pie is completely covered with polenta.
Top each pie with a teaspoon of grated kefalotyri cheese, followed by a ¼ teaspoon of extra-virgin olive oil. Place into the oven and cook for 10 minutes. Rotate tray and cook an additional 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly so that the polenta has set, then remove the pies from the mold.