Marathopita: An Authentic Greek Fennel Pie from Crete

 Marathopita (μαραθόπιτα in Greek) is the name of the traditional Greek fennel pie. This Greek fennel pie recipe originates from Crete, one of the highly beautiful and popular islands of the world. Crete is popular not only for its unparallel beauty but also for its delicious and healthy food. Cretans utilize plenty of fresh ingredients in their foods as wild greens and aromatic herbs including wild fennel grow in abundance across the island.

Maratho (the Greek name of fennel) is among the highly aromatic Cretan herbs. Cretans use it to highlight and give flavorful emphasis to various local dishes. But, maratho is not only full of heavenly scent, but it is also nutritious. Even though it is low in calories, it provides numerous vital nutrients such as vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and manganese.

Moreover, Crete is also popular for its pies. Pita (which is the Greek word for pie) is a word to describe all handheld pies. As you can imagine the filling variety is endless, from meat, cheese to vegetables. Marathopita is a true Cretan delicacy that you can appreciate as a light lunch, snack, or even breakfast.

Usually, a Greek fennel pie requires the following ingredients: flour, olive oil, raki, fennel leaves, spinach, spring onions, fresh mint, parsley, Greek olive oil, salt, and pepper. In case you cannot find raki, you can substitute it with vodka. 

This authentic marathopita recipe has a cooking time of 20 minutes while its preparation time is 60 minutes. It gives 8 to 10 pieces.

marathopita (Greek fennel pie)

Marathopita – Ingredients

  • 500g all-purpose flour
  • 200ml water at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1½ tbsp. raki (or vodka)
  • pinch of salt
  • 200g fennel leaves, finely chopped.
  • 100g spinach, finely chopped.
  • 100g spring onions, finely chopped.
  • 50g fresh mint, chopped.
  • 50g fresh parsley, chopped.
  • 25ml olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Additional olive oil for frying

Marathopita – How to Make

  1. Start the traditional Greek fennel pie recipe with the filling by carefully washing all the greens and herbs. Pat dry and finely chop, then place in a bowl and mix well.
  2. Put the spring onions in a frying pan with olive oil and fry on low-medium heat until soft and translucent.
  3.  Add the greens to the pan and cook gently for a further 5 minutes over low heat to release the oils and aromas. 
  4. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  5. Take a large bowl and mix all the dough ingredients together and knead for about 4-5 minutes until it forms a dense ball. 
  6. Divide the dough into 20 equal pieces and roll each into a ball on a floured surface. 
  7. With a rolling pin, flatten each ball into a thin circle of about 18cm diameter.
  8. Divide the herb filling into 10 equal portions and place one in the center of each circle. 
  9. Cover with another thin circle of dough and using a fork, press down and close the edges to keep the filling inside. 
  10. Place the pies on a baking sheet, being careful not to pierce them.
  11. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a frying pan and cook until each side turns to a golden crust before removing. 
  12. Garnish with chopped fennel stalks (optional) and serve warm.
You can always freeze between sheets of parchment paper in case you do not want to fry immediately. Enjoy!