Friday, 3 February 2017

Vegetarian Greek Hilopites Pasta with Saffron

Over the past few days, I have been flicking through my Greek cookbooks precariously seeking warmth and sunshine through food.  Yesterday, I shared my version of a Greek Shepherds Pie, but I wanted to make something a bit more authentic rather than a fusion of British and Greek cuisine.  Talking of fusion cuisine, I have also made a Prasopita - a authentic Greek Pie that you could easily mistake to be a fusion creation of Greece and Wales cuisine as the recipe has every Welsh persons favourite ingredient: Leeks, but more about that in March when I plan to share it for St David's Day.
Today I share a casserole dish featuring Greek Hilopites.  I bookmarked this dish because it reminded me of my Greek flatmates from Thessoloniki slurping a big red bowl of this silky ribbon pasta dish.  At the time I found it a bit strange that these fiercely proud Greek boys were swirling their spoon and forks around Italian pasta.  Nothing wrong with that after cheap beans on toast, pasta dishes were the next affordable grub for students, but my culinary knowledge was enhanced.  He pulled out a brown bag of pasta and it was not packet Italian pasta, but one he had brought back from Greece, it could even have been homemade, I don't remember - but I was told firmly but politely, that this was hilopites, not tagliatelle.   
Hilopites is a traditional Greek dried ribbon pasta and is popular throughout the Mediterranean. Hilopites can very much be described as Tagliatelle.  It is often made with eggs and milk. However hilopites is much shorter than tagliatelle.

Theodore Kyriakou in The Real Greek At Home writes 'that his father was convinced that when Marco Polo took the idea of pasta from the Chinese and brought it back to Italy, he was only following in the footsteps of the brave Greek who took the recipe for hilopites from the East in a similar fashion'.
This vegetarian Greek Hilopites Pasta is enhanced with sweet paprika and saffron that is why it is so vividly saffron coloured. I was supposed to garnish it with some minced chives, but I forgot in my haste to get a picture.

It was really delicious, meltingly so - the hilopites was infused wonderfully with the saffron and sweet paprika, the shallots silky smooth and the garlic , I guess you just have to be careful that you don't overcook the hilopites as it can easily become mushy and that is okay if you like that. The shallots became sweet and tender.
Although none of my Greek inspired dishes are vegan, I wonder what my blogger friend Veganopolous will think of my Greek inspired dishes, including the Greek Shepherds Pie and the  Prasopita, when I showcase it in March (if not before). 

I am sharing this vegetarian Greek Hilopites Pasta with Saffron with Cook Once Eat Twice hosted by Searching For Spice. 

Greek Hilopites with Saffron and Shallots
Serves 3-4
50ml olive oil
250g baby shallots1 x300 jar tomato perasti (Greek tomato passata) or equivalent
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 litre vegetable stock
Pinch of saffron strands (from Steenberg)
250g - 300g hilopites or dried egg tagliatelle
50g butter or margarine
Salt and pepper to taste
Chives, finely chopped for garnishing
Adapted from The Real Greek At Home by Theodore Kyriakou and Charles Campion


  1. I hope the poor weather doesn't prevent you getting to Cardiff for the festival you mentioned - 7 days of rain is a bit much and more of it would undoubtedly feel like too much!

    I have minimal experience with Greek cuisine so this is interesting and appealing.

    1. Kari, the weather was splendid and I had a lovely day out. I am hoping to share it tomorrow, then my IMK on Tuesday.
      The rain did come back but that was when we got home. My experience comes from holidays in Cyprus, but mostly from my Greek flatmates, Greek eateries when we lived in Glasgow and more recently a Greek volunteer at work called Magarita. Hope you get to try some Greek cuisine, you probably have had something that is Greek as there are lots of influences in worldwide cuisine

  2. This pasta dish looks gorgeous and I loved reading the story about your Greek flatmates and the way they introduced you to hilopites. I'd never heard of hilopites before but feel I've now also been taught something by your old Greek flatmates! Thank you so much for sharing with #CookOnceEatTwice!

    1. Thank you so much Corina, its always amazing how much we learn about food, i think part of it is to do with greed, but if it also helps break down barriers - then even wonderful.

  3. That is a lovely memory you shared with us. The dish looks so yummy ,I could almost smell it. I am very familiar with the pasta called hilopites, I am Macedonian and we make the same pasta over there with eggs and milk. We are talking about big quantity, 5 kg flour, 30 eggs and 1 liter of milk. It's a all day job. The pasta is then dried spread on a clean bed sheets for several day and stored in a clean pillow cases. It is supposed to last the whole winter and to be eaten for breakfast with a bit of a white feta style cheese on the top. You have no idea how much I miss my life I lived over there, the way people preserve food to last for the winter days it amazing. Here is a link of one of my posts about Macedonia :

    I've got a photo somewhere of my attempt making hilopites ( jufki in Macedonian ) and how I dried the pasta on a washing line indoor :)

  4. found the photo:

    1. Thank you so much Laura. Food often does that takes us back to another place and time. It is so interesting to learn that you are from Macedonia. I did Anthropology at Uni as a subject and do remember learning a bit around Macedonia. It is truly amazing how people in other parts of the world prep for the winter seasons, in this country sadly we have lost that tradition, though we do still do a bit of preserving and jam making. I checked out your photo of your homemade hilopites and am off to check out the link about Macedonia. Thank you Laura. I am so pleased that this post evoked some memories for you too.

  5. Hmmm, this sounds very interesting. The noodles are different than I'm used to for pasta. I would not think of saffron as a flavour for pasta, but it sounds wonderful. It sounds good. And warming.

    1. Thanks Kimmy. This was an ennjoyable dish and you can def. sub the pasta with a vegan version, of course it won't be hilopites, but a variation. The saffron did add both flavour and colour and made it appear warming, which of course it was.


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