A large part of the summers of my first teenage years were spent at my Dad’s village, Nea Vissa, in the very North of Greece. My grandparents had a huge yard full of fruit trees and, of course, as every house in these villages, a vegetable garden. So, along with a flood of apricots, mulberries and cherries in the yard, came a flood of zucchini in the vegetable garden. Some of them were made stuffed, others dipped in batter and fried, and a large part of them would become “golio”, a traditional pie which, as I later discovered, can be found in different variations all over Greece –I guess many overwhelmed souls were looking for a way to use their zucchini!
“Golio”, in the local dialect, means naked. This pie is “naked” because no dough or filo pastry is used for its preparation. What you basically prepare is a batter, the main ingredient of which is shredded zucchini. It goes without saying that the shredded zucchini was produced with the help of a coarse grater –no food processors to speed up the process- my nightmare as a teenager. I loved “golio” and would be willing to help prepare it, however, I found the grating part absolutely boring; plus, I had to be careful not to accidentally grate my fingers. I didn’t always succeed, so I guess that the “golio” I made back then wasn’t exactly vegetarian…
The other tedious part was draining the shredded zucchini. Like cucumber, once zucchini is cut, and even more when it’s shredded, it starts releasing a great amount of the water it contains. So, in order for the batter to not become watery, you have to take small handfuls of the shredded zucchini and squeeze it as hard as possible, to get rid of as much liquid as possible. You can imagine how interesting the process is to a child or a teenager.
But once the “golio” went into the oven and would start to bake, the smell would make the effort worthwhile. And once it came out of the oven, we would count the minutes for it to cool off (it’s eaten warm or cold, never hot), before starting to devour it. We would usually eat it on its own, with no bread or salad, but it goes perfectly well with tzatziki, feta cheese or Greek salad. So… here’s another way to make something interesting out of zucchini…
3 zucchini 1 tsp salt
250 gr feta cheese 1 cup flour
1 cup milk 2 eggs
1 tsp baking powder pepper to taste (optional)
2 tbsp dill (optional)
Olive oil (for the baking tray) ¼ cup flour (for the baking tray)
1 baking tray 25X35cm
– Coarsely grate the zucchini, put them in a colander, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and let sit for 15 minutes.
– Grease and flour a 28X38cm baking tray.
– Squeeze as much water as possible from the grated zucchini in the colander. Then, take small handfuls of it and squeeze very well, in order to drain as much of the remaining water as possible. Put the drained zucchini in a large bowl.
Preheat the oven to 180 C.
Crumble the feta over the zucchini, then add the eggs (slightly beaten), the milk, flour, baking powder, pepper (if you are using it) and the dill.
You will end up with a thick batter, which you’ll pour in the baking tray. Your layer will be fairly thin (less than a couple of cm tall), and it’ll become even thinner while baking. This is exactly what you want: two layers of golden crust, with a thin layer of zucchini in-between.
With a spatula, make the surface as smooth as possible, and put the pie in the oven.
Bake for around 50 minutes or slightly longer if necessary, until a golden crust forms.
Enjoy warm (not too hot) or cold, with Greek salad, tzatziki, yogurt or feta cheese, or even in a tzatziki-lined sandwich. You can freeze it for up to 3 months, but from what I’ve seen, it’s a bit addictive, so it probably won’t live long, once out of the oven!
Caterina Tzoridou moved from Thessaloniki to Amsterdam in 2008. She worked as a translator, subtitler and interpreter in Greece, as well as during her first years here. She is also a published children’s books writer: nine of her stories have already been published in Greece.
In June 2011, she realized a long-held dream of hers: Olivity, a catering company with Greek-Mediterranean flavors, using olive oil as the basic ingredient for all products. In July 2013, Olivity’s first store opened on Overtoom 239.