Sarikopita, Strifti, Kihi - they are all names for a round pie made up of pieces of filled pastry made in the shape of a snail's shell.
While there is no shortage of melitzanopita recipes in Greek, eggplant pie is found in just a few non-Greek recipes. I have heard that Martha Stewart has some kind of Greek background, so I wonder if it was this aspect of her identity that drove her to make individual eggplant cheese pies in 2010 . I think her vegetarian muffin-shaped melitzanopitakia look dreamy. Her recipe is not far off the one I used: I added strained cubed tomato, I didn't use coriander and I used crushed walnuts instead of pistachios. Crushed nuts are a great addition to pie fillings because they give pies an added texture, the nuts soak up excess liquids in a filling (the same job breadcrumbs and rice do) which often makes pastry soggy, and nuts act like protein in a vegetarian dish. The walnuts also had a sweetening effect on the eggplant, which can sometimes taste bitter, depending on the quality of the eggplant.
Vegan melitzanopita for the 2nd Symposium: Food, Memory and Identity in Greece and the Diaspora taking place this weekend. The filling contains the same ingredients as the Gounaridis pita without the cheese; instead, I added some green peppers (with the onion), and a mixture of breadcrumbs and walnuts to bind the (cooked pureed) filling. It smells like mince - very cheap, very Greek and very frugal (the whole thing can't have cost me more than €1.50 to make - all the ingredients are found in most Cretan homes, and half would come from a small summer garden).
Melitzanopita, as it is made by Greeks, from the recipes available on the web, fits well within the taste spectrum of Greek food, using commonly associated combinations in Greek cuisine: eggplant and mince or eggplant and tomato, spiced up with parsley and mint, dressed in olive oil and encased in classic Greek filo pastry. It is an aromatic pie and makes a full meal, coupled with a green salad and some wine. More importantly, it's not an acquired taste and it is very versatile; these two aspects will make it popular among a wide variety of people.
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