Almodrote: Turkish Shredded Zucchini Pie with Sheep’s Milk Cheese and Yogurt

Pie_ZucchiniCheese_Amodrote_blog

During my fall trip to Roosevelt Island (see post, “Roosevelt Island: My Trip To Instanbul), I visited Jale Turcihin and she taught me how to make Amodrote, which in Izmir is (apparently) known as Frittata (sounds Ladino, no?). While it does contain cheese, in Jale’s home it was the Passover tradition to serve a variety of Amodrotes (eggplant, leek, spinach) before the main dishes came out (even if they contained meat). The combination of the Kaseri — a sheep’s milk cheese — with the yogurt gives a special tartness that to me is particularly Mediterranean (and reminds me of my own Syrian Kusa b’Jibbin (Squash Cheese Pie). In Jale’s home it was served with a small glass pitcher of a sugar syrup on the side, which when drizzled on top would give a sweet and salty taste, something one often finds in Sephardic cooking. It’s a great type of dish to learn for any meal or time of year, especially when you are looking for vegetarian options. And if the “dairy-before-meat-in-the-same-meal” custom doesn’t work for you, then save it as a dish for one of those long Passover days when you simply don’t know what else to prepare for dinner! 

Almodrote: Turkish Shredded Zucchini Pie with Sheep’s Milk Cheese and Yogurt
(Yield: Serves 8 to 10)

For Almodrote:
9 medium zucchini (don’t get them too big or they will be too watery!)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups coarsely grated Kasseri / Kasheri cheese, or other hard, sharp sheep’s milk cheese
(about 1 pound total for pie itself and topping together)

4 large eggs (should be 1 cup total), lightly beaten
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons plain whole milk yogurt
¾ cup matzah meal

For Baking:
1 tablespoon pure olive oil or canola oil
2 tablespoons matzah meal
½ cup grated kasseri cheese

1. Peel the outside of each zucchini lengthwise so that you create dark green and light green ½-inch stripes, about ½ inch apart (the peeled part will be light green and the dark part will be the dark green skin, about ½ inches wide).

2. Coarsely grate each zucchini by hand or in the food processor and pour into a large colander. Lightly toss with ½ teaspoon of kosher salt with your hands, place colander in a baking pan or the sink, and drain for at least two hours in order to extract excess liquid.

3. Working one handful at a time, scoop out and squeeze the zucchini even further to discard any excess liquid before placing it into a separate mixing bowl  (you should have about 6 cups of grated zucchini once liquid has been drained and squeezed). Discard all drained liquid.

4.  Add 2 cups of the grated cheese (reserving remaining ½ cup for top), eggs, yogurt, and ¾ cup of the matzah meal to the zucchini, and squeeze mixture together with your hands until soft and fully blended.

5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.; coat just the bottom of an 8- or 9-inch x 13-inch baking pan with the 1 tablespoon of oil, then sprinkle the bottom evenly with the 2 tablespoons of matzah meal.

6. Pour the zucchini-cheese mixture into the pan and spread out evenly with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle top with the remaining ½ cup of grated cheese and place on middle rack of the pre-heated oven to bake until top become a dark brown color, about 1 hour and 15 minutes (pie should be soft but solid enough that when you gently shake pan it doesn’t appear too watery in center).

7. Remove from oven and cool about 20 to 30 minutes to set. Serve warm or at room temperature.

©Jennifer Felicia Abadi:  www.TooGoodToPassover.com / jabadi@FistfulofLentils.com

 

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9 thoughts on “Almodrote: Turkish Shredded Zucchini Pie with Sheep’s Milk Cheese and Yogurt

  1. Levine, Robert Jay April 1, 2014 at 11:01 pm Reply

    Jennifer:

    As I said I would, I cooked this tonight, and as I promised, here are my commentaries.

    It was very good.

    I did 2/3 of the recipe, using a 9×9 ish pan instead of 9 x 13. I used matzoh cake flour instead of meal because that’s what I had. I don’t think it made a difference.

    Since the zucchini are schredded, there is no reason to be fancy with the peeling; I peeled half and left half unpeeled, for the same result as striping all of them.

    I cooked it for about 55 minutes, until the top was pretty solid, way less than the 1 1/4 hour specified in the recipe. But I was a little under, and the crust was golden brown but not dark. Another 5-10 minutes, until dark brown, would have made it better. As it was, it was the texture of a fairly soft quiche more than a cake.

    The bottom line, though, is that I will do this for Passover. I will cook it to a dark brown next time.

    Thanks for the recipe. I have seem others, some of which call for a more souffle like dish with eggs separated and whipped whites folded into mixture. Probably good. There is a recipe for “crustless zucchini pie” in The Turkish Recipes Cookbook by Nur Ilkin and Sheila Kaufman that is similar but adds dill, which sounds like a good idea, scallions, aleppo pepper and baking powder, which could improve the texture (and, surprisingly, is OK during Passover). I am not sure which, if any, modifications to make. Probably dill and aleppo pepper, which I love.

    By the way, the cheese I used was a Greek kasseri from Fairway. Nice.

    So there you have it.

    Best regards.

    Bob ________________________________

  2. Jennifer Abadi April 2, 2014 at 8:21 am Reply

    Thanks for the report Bob! If you made a smaller batch of the recipe and baked it in a smaller pan, it would take less time to bake. The texture should be somewhat soft, but should congeal as it cools a bit (it’s best to let it sit until warm or room temperature before cutting into pieces or it might be too soft and stringy). Glad you liked it!

  3. Robert Levine April 2, 2014 at 9:25 am Reply

    Jennifer:

    Inspired by your Persian New Year’s cooking lesson at ICE in 2013, I decided to do a Sephardic Seder this year, and have been doing research ever since. My goal is to provide a great meal with dishes from at least five countries. So here’s how my Sephardic Seder is shaping up.

    Hors d’oeuvres

    -Hummus
    -Olives
    -Nuts
    -Eggplant spread (from Ottolenghi’s “Plenty”)
    -Lemon scented veal meatballs (a family favorite from Mario Batali that could be Sephardic)

    The Meal

    -Charoset from Bordeaux style from Joan Nathan’s “Quiches, Kugels and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France,” but substituting figs for 1/2 the dates called for. I like the freshness of it, no cooking and, surprisingly, no wine. This after I tried a bunch of others, which I generally found too sweet and mushy.
    -Perhaps Poopa Dweck’s (“Aromas of Aleppo” lentil and spinach soup or Claudia Roden’s (“The Book of Jewish Food”) dried fava bean soup or watercress and chickpea soup from Ottolenghi’s “Jerusalem,” which I have made before with excellent results
    -Dja’jeh Zetoon b’Limoneh (chicken with lemon and olives) from your book, “A Fistful of Lentils”
    -Amodrote from you, with some modifications
    -Rice, either Syrian or Persian
    -Maybe a salad. Radishes, orange slices, spinach.
    -Orange cake, a variation that I do on the one in Roden’s “Book of Jewish Food?
    -Another dessert with no nuts for my allergic brother-in-law: hard to find because nuts are so predominant in this type of cuisine. Any reader’s thoughts would be welcome.

    All the best.

    • Jennifer Abadi April 2, 2014 at 9:54 am Reply

      I would love to hear about the orange cake recipe and may even post some dessert recipe very soon so that you and other blog readers can try it! It’s tricky to find something without nuts for Passover, but I will look and see what I have!

  4. Robert Levine April 2, 2014 at 6:46 pm Reply

    Here’s the recipe for the Flourless Orange Cake. I give Clotilde Dusoulier’s recipe as it is, together with my commentaries). I don’t feel like too much of a plagiarist since she posted this on her wonderful blog, http://chocolateandzucchini.com, which I encourage everyone to visit.

    Gâteau à l’Orange et au Gingembre (Flourless Orange and Ginger Cake)
    (from Clotilde Dusoulier)

    Ingredients

    • 3 small oranges or 2 large oranges (preferably organic), about 600 g (I prefer clementines or mandarins)
    • 6 large (or 5 extra large) eggs
    • 250 g (1 C + 1 Tbsp) sugar
    • 250 g (2 1/3 C) almond powder (a.k.a. powdered almonds or almond meal)
    • a thumb-sized knob of fresh ginger
    • 1/4 C candied ginger (I use the Australian kind, which is hotter and is in cubes rather than slices)
    • 1 tsp baking powder

    For the frosting :

    • the zest and juice of a lemon
    • 60 g thick Swedish pearl sugar, the type used as a topping for chouquettes or brioches (available online). Substitute old-fashioned lumps of sugar (like sucre Candi or La Perruche) or ordinary lumps of sugar, crushed.

    Directions

    1. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F). Grease a 24 cm (10-inch) springform cake pan. (Note: Better to use 9-inch pan.)

    2. Clean and scrub the oranges well. Put them in a medium saucepan, and cover with water. Put the saucepan over medium heat, and simmer for two hours, adding a little hot water when the level gets too low (note: some may find the smell of whole oranges boiling very unpleasant, but it has nothing to do with the smell or taste of the finished product). Drain, and let cool. Cut in quarters and puree in the food processor.

    3. Peel and chop the fresh ginger. Cut the candied ginger in small dice. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs with a fork. Whisk in the orange puree, the sugar, the almonds, the baking powder, and the fresh ginger, until well blended. Fold in the bits of candied ginger.

    4. Pour the batter in the cake pan, and bake for about an hour (a little more if using 9-inch pan), until puffy and golden. Let cool for a few minutes on a rack, while you prepare the frosting. Run a knife around the cake to loosen it, and remove the sides of the pan.

    Put the sugar crystals in a small bowl with the lemon juice and zest. Spoon this mixture evenly onto the top of the cake. Let cool completely before serving. It can be made a day ahead, wrapped in plastic and stored in the refrigerator

    • Jennifer Abadi April 2, 2014 at 8:59 pm Reply

      So I noticed that this recipe contains baking powder, which is probably the standard baking powder. For Passover you would have to use kosher for Passover baking powder. I have to admit that with all the rules about what you cannot eat during Passover, I was surprised to see that there is even a KLP version of baking powder out there! Has anyone used this product, and does it work?

  5. Robert Levine April 2, 2014 at 10:18 pm Reply

    By the way, Claudia Roden’s The Book of Jewish Food has a very similar recipe, without the crystal sugar topping, which calls a Judeo-Spanish cake.

    • Jennifer Abadi April 3, 2014 at 8:02 am Reply

      Will have to look at it. I wonder if it also has baking powder in it?

      • Levine, Robert Jay April 3, 2014 at 8:50 am

        Yes, but it’s not billed as a Passover recipe.

        Bob

        Sent from my iPad

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