Greek food, much like food in most countries, has regional influences. Boureki is a potato and zucchini gratin served without a crust, except in the Chania region of Crete. There it is prepared more like a pie with a crust and served as a main course, accompanied by bread and a Greek salad. 

We ate dinner on a couple of occasions at a local eatery Amex Tamam Restaurant. We were impressed with Boureki, and several of the other dishes so I purchased their cookbook. I plan to share some of the delicious dinners in that book later - but today, we are making Cretan Boureki.

Read the recipe first

In my years of cooking, I have learned to read recipes well beforehand. While reading today's recipe, I noticed the pastry dough instructions were incomplete. A little internet searching and a solution presented itself in the form of puff pastry sheets. I promise to attempt the traditional dough when I return home and will let you know my results.

Prepping

The two main ingredients of this pie are potatoes and zucchini which contain a lot of water. To keep you pie from becoming a sloppy mess, remove as much water as possible by lightly salting these ingredients ahead of time and allowing to sit for at least 10 minutes. The salt will draw out moisture. Then strain the vegetables, or wrap in a paper towel, and give a gentle squeeze.

The original recipe says to cut the potatoes and zucchini into rounds. The Boureki I ate had shredded vegetables, which aids in the moisture removal. The recipe also calls for a Greek "cottage cheese" but suggests ricotta as an acceptable substitute. Live, Laugh, Love, and Eat like a Cretan.

Boureki

Courtesy of Tamam restaurant, Chania, Greece

Serves 6

  • One box puff pastry sheets
  • 3 To 3.5 Lbs of zucchini, shredded with skins on
  • 3 large Potatoes, peeled and shredded
  • 2 Lbs of ricotta or Greek Mizithra cheese
  • 1 bunch of mint chopped
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds, white
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds, black

Please the zucchini and potatoes in separate bowls, lightly salt, mix and allow to stand for 10 minutes.

Strain or wrap the vegetables in a paper towel and lightly squeeze to remove moisture. Preheat oven to 360 F.

Coat a square baking dish, approximately 9" x 9" with butter. Line the bottom of the pan with one sheet of the puff pastry allowing extra to hang over the sides.

Place 1/2 of the zucchini in the pan, then layer 1/3 of the mint and 1/2 of the cheese. Cover with 1/2 the potatoes and 1/3 of the mint. Repeat the layering process starting with the Zucchini  and ending with the potatoes.

Place the second sheet of puff pastry on top and pinch together with bottom sheet. Whisk the egg yolk with the olive oil and then brush on top of the puff pastry.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds, cover with foil and bake for one hour. Then remove foil can continue baking for 30 minutes or until the dough become his golden brown. 

Serve with bread and a Greek salad for a nice vegetarian meal.