Shakharadjin: Ossetian Pies with Beet Leaves

Have you ever bought beets at the store that had the tops still attached?  More often than not, in this country, people would just cut off the leaves and throw them away.  But as with many things in nature, there are nutritional benefits to eating all parts of the plant (beet leaves are high in vitamins A and C, as well as iron and calcium!).  If you are looking for a great way to use the leaves of the beet plant, look no further!  Here is a recipe for shakharadjin, or Ossetian pies with beet leaves and feta cheese.

You will need the following (recipe makes 1 pie):
  • 1/3 recipe Ossetian pie dough
  • leafy tops from 3 beets (about 2 cups of chiffonaded leaves)
  • 1/4 C chopped parsley
  • 1/4 C chopped cilantro
  • 1/8 C chopped dill
  • 1 1/2 C finely grated feta cheese
  • 1 Tbsp melted butter
First, prepare a third of the recipe for Ossetian pie dough (I used about 1 cup of bread flour, 1 cup white whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup milk, 3/4 teaspoon yeast and enough water to make the dough come together as in the dough tutorial).  While that is rising, remove and discard the hard stalk parts of the beet plant that don't have any green leaves attached.  Then chiffonade the remaining leaves and stalk portions.

Finely chop the herbs and add them to the beet leaves.

Using the small holes of a box grater, finely grate the feta cheese.  You will need about a cup and a half once the cheese is grated.  Add this to the leaf/herb mixture.

Because the leafy filling doesn't spread very well, I like to spread out the dough already on a lightly floured pizza pan.  

I then place the filling in the center and gather the edges as I would with any of the other pies.  Flatten the pie into a round shape and spread it as thinly as you can without the dough ripping.
Make a small hole in the center to allow steam to escape and bake in a 500 degree F oven, starting on the bottom rack until the pie is loose on the pan (when you shake the pan gently, the pie doesn't stick).  At that point, transfer the pie to the top rack to finish browning.

Remove the pie when it has several nice brown spots and brush it with the melted butter.  Serve hot with a basic tomato and cucumber salad for a simple yet scrumptious meatless meal!

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