Prep time: 45mins
Cooking time: 1hr 15mins
Difficulty level: Easy
Whoever visited the island of Gozo is familiar with the simple yet mouth-watering Gozitan ftira which dates back to hundreds of years. This historic recipe is still very popular and highly sought after, by both the Maltese people & foreigners. It’s considered as a must-have meal when visiting Malta’s sister island, Gozo. I remember when I was younger, my mother used to prepare several ftajjar which we used to take with us to Ramla Bay for a lovely summer evening with our extended family…sweet memories!
In the old days, the Gozitan ftira was considered as “the poor man’s meal”. This is because most ingredients could be picked up from the same farm of the “poor man”. Until a number of years ago, meat was only consumed on Sundays or special occasions, hence making this meatless meal a very common one. Furthermore, our ancestors did not consume any meat on Wednesdays and Fridays for religious reasons.
Don’t confuse the Gozitan Ftira with the Maltese one!
Yes – in an archipelago with around half a million inhabitants, the term ftira means something different as soon as you cross the ferry from the mainland Malta to the second-largest island of Gozo. Both meals are vegetable-based, however, unlike the Gozitan one, the Maltese ftira is made up of fresh bread and uncooked vegetables. It’s still a very delicious and popular lunch across the Maltese Islands.
My take on this recipe
I inherited this delectable recipe from my grandma who lived in the village of Xagħra. She used to make the dough herself as well, which is different from the type of dough I’m using here. Of course, like any other recipe, there are different takes to this dish, in addition to using a different type of dough, for example, one can also add tuna or remove anchovies. Others prefer to add some Maltese sausage and/or Gozitan peppered cheeselets – another Gozitan traditional food which is to die for! You can mix and match according to your tastes and preferences.
You may find a number of Gozitan Ftira recipe, yet this is a special one from my grandma who lived in the village of Xagħra, Gozo.
When it comes to the dough, I used store-bought puff pastry which gives a wonderful crispy and flaky taste to the ftira. This dough is similar to that of the Maltese pastizzi. Other doughs which can be used are the bread dough, normal pizza dough, and maybe one can even opt for a cauliflower base for a healthier, vegan option, why not? 😊
x2, 500g Puff Pastry
x4 Medium Potatoes, very thinly sliced (see Note)
x3 Medium Onions, thinly sliced in wedges
x8 Cherry tomatoes or 2 beef tomatoes, thinly sliced*
x2 Cups black olives, chopped
1/3 Cup Capers
1/4 Cup Anchovies, chopped
A handful of fresh mint, chopped
Salt & Pepper
Preheat the oven at 190°C, setting the oven to heat from the bottom element.
Grease the pan with some butter to prevent the ftira from sticking.
Open the dough to the size of your dish plus an extra 1.5 inches all around to be able to fold it over at a later step.
Grab the opened dough carefully and place it on the dish.
Place the sliced potato on the bottom of the ftira, one slice adjacent to the other. Do not layer the potato.
Spread the onion evenly on top to the potato.
Layer the tomatoes evenly.
Sprinkle with the remaining toppings mainly olives, capers, anchovies, and mint.
Drizzle olive oil and season with salt and pepper as desired.
Fold the free edge of the dough inwards, to partly cover the toppings of the ftira.
Cook the ftira for around 1h 15mins**, ensuring that the bottom is thoroughly cooked.
Once cooked, slice, serve and enjoy :)
*It is very important that the potato is sliced very thinly. If left thick, the potato will not cook properly.
** Each oven cooks differently, so make sure you check frequently after 1hr of cooking.
***If one opts to add tuna, this should be added in the last 10-15 minutes of the cooking time.
L-ikla t-tajba! (Have a good meal!)