This is seriously the pie to end all pies. Well, for me, anyway. Being vegetarian, I’ve never experienced the highly acclaimed chicken-and-leek or steak-and-kidney varieties that are so popular with meat eating Brits. To be honest, I’ve never really given much attention to pies.
But, sometimes, it turns out, pie is just what you need. This was actually the brainchild of a meat lover who craves all things wrapped in flaky, buttery pastry, but who is also determined to eat less of it (the meat, that is.)
Seriously, with a pie this crammed full of goodness, who needs meat?
This is full of layer upon layer of the most delicious roasted veggies. It starts with thinly sliced potato and parsnip at the bottom, then sweet potatoes, then spinach and ricotta, then more sweet potatoes, then caramelised onions and finally goats cheese and pine nuts. We baked it in a cake tin, and it was so crammed full that it started to burst its banks a bit. (There was a slight leak happening on one side- which I neglected to photograph for the purpose of this blog post. But it feels dishonest to pretend it didn’t exist at all!)
for the pastry:
1 teaspoon salt
about 150 ml cold water
Sift the flour and salt into a bowl, then rub in the butter. Don’t make it too fine- you need to see chunks of butter in the mixture. Pour in two-thirds of the water and mix to bring the dough together into a ball. Add more water if you need to. Rest in the fridge for at least twenty minutes.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a rectangle. You should have a marbled effect from the butter. Fold the bottom third of the dough up over the middle section, then the top third down, so that you have three layers. Give the dough a quarter turn, then roll out again and repeat the fold. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge.
Repeat this rolling and turning at least once more before using it. Keep it in the fridge right up until you need it to keep the butter firm as this makes it easier to work with.
for the filling:
4 sweet potatoes
handful of mushrooms
1 clove of garlic
200g spinach, wilted
1 tub of ricotta
splash of balsamic vinegar
pinch of brown sugar
100g pine nuts
about 1/2 a log of goats cheese
Begin by par boiling the potatoes and parsnips for about 15 minutes. Then, slice them thinly and roast at 180 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until crispy.
Cook the sweet potato in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until soft. Then slice and roast on a separate baking tray.
Slice the mushrooms and garlic thinly, then fry together until the mushrooms have become soft and juicy. In a large bowl, mix together the spinach, ricotta and mushrooms, then set to one side.
Thinly slice the onion, and fry with the balsamic and brown sugar until the onions and soft.
Finally- you are ready to assemble!
Roll out two-thirds of the pastry to about half an inch thick, and place into a well lined cake tin. Make sure the pastry is pushed right down into the corners of the tin.
Make a layer of potatoes and parsnips on the bottom, ensuring that all the pastry is covered. Then, do the same with the slices of sweet potato.
Cover the sweet potato with the spinach mixture. Then make another sweet potato layer. Spoon the onions on top, then cover with knobs of goats cheese and a sprinkling of pine nuts.
Roll out the remaining third of the pastry to form a lid. Lay it on top and crimp the edges.
Bake at 180 degrees for about an hour and a half. You might need to cover the top with tin foil if it is starting to brown too quickly.
This seems like a long process- and it is! But it is very worth it, especially on a cold December day!