This bears no resemblance to the soft flatbread of the same name. Chances are you’ve never had this impressive side dish in a restaurant, according to Rockville husband and wife Demetri and Vicky Tsipianitis. The recipe comes from Vicky’s family, and it calls for a slightly thicker filo dough (look for No. 7 on the package rather than No. 4) than what’s used to make baklava. Vicky makes her own dough, usually preparing it a day in advance to keep the assembly process relatively simple.
Thirteen layers of filo are always used; between them there is butter, feta cheese, beaten eggs and cooked rigatoni.
We found No. 7 Fillo Factory filo dough at Shemali's in the District (202-686-7070) and at Balducci's stores.
Servings: 15 - 20
- 1 pound salted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
- 6 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 pound rigatoni, cooked thoroughly (not al dente) and cooled
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, preferably Greek
- 13 filo dough sheets, with a No. 7 thickness, kept between layers of wax or parchment paper and held under a damp towel (see headnote)
- 1 pound crumbled feta cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use some of the melted butter to liberally coat the inside of a 15-inch round pan with sides that are at least 2 inches high.
Place the eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer; beat on medium speed for about 10 minutes, until thoroughly frothy and pale yellow.
Meanwhile, combine the cooked pasta and oil in a mixing bowl and toss to coat thoroughly. Have the sheets of filo dough and the cheese at hand.
Start with 1 sheet of filo dough on the bottom of the pan, gently laying it in so that it remains unbroken but has plenty of wrinkles. Scatter a sparse layer of the rigatoni around the filo sheet, then drizzle the butter, crumble a sparse layer of the feta between the pasta and top with an even drizzle of the beaten eggs. Repeat to build 11 more layers using all of the pasta, feta and eggs, reserving enough butter to coat the entire top layer. Finish with the final (13th) filo dough sheet on top. Use the remaining butter to brush the surface of the top filo. Sprinkle a little water evenly over the top. Bake for 60 to 80 minutes, until golden brown and crisped; when you gently shake the pan, the pita should move loosely from the edges.
Let cool for at least 15 minutes. If possible, carefully invert the pita so the bottom is allowed to air-dry a bit. Wait for at least 20 minutes before cutting into diamond-shaped wedges, like baklava. Serve warm.
From Demetri and Vicky Tsipianitis of Rockville.
Tested by Demetri and Vicky Tsipianitis.
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