Pie doesn’t have to be tricky. I’m not going to pretend that this is a quick dish, but it is pretty easy and very tasty.
What you’ll need to make this rather fine looking pie is:
2 decent sized leeks
Between 500g (17oz) and 750g (26oz) of Spinach leaves
300g (10oz) of Feta Cheese (or Feta style cheese)
Some dried mint
Some lemon juice
Some flour (preferably plain)
Salt and pepper
±500g (17oz) of puff pasty (it’ll be in the frozen goods section of the supermarket – you want the stuff that comes already rolled out, unless you own a rolling pin)
Equipment wise, only thing that you might need to worry about is a deep baking tray or dish. Other than that, just standard kitchen equipment
Set your oven to 220C/425F/Gas Mark 7 if you’re planning on cooking the pie immediately. Pre-heating the oven is very important for pastry.
1. Take the leeks. Cut off the leaves at the top and the end with the root. Then slit the leeks along the length and open them out under a running tap to clean them. Once clean, slice them into thin-ish discs.
2. Put the sliced leeks into a pan with a little bit of oil. Cook the leeks at a low heat for six to ten minutes, with a lid on the pan. This is to soften them.
3. Take the spinach and squeeze it hard to get rid of the moisture in it. Chop it roughly, then place it in a large bowl (if you don’t have a large bowl, use more than one or a large pan). It looks like a lot of spinach, but it shrinks when you cook it.
4. Break the Feta into chunks and mix it in with the spinach. You probably don’t want the chunks to be too big. Throw the leeks in with the spinach and feta as well.
5. Break the eggs into a small bowl or cup and whisk with a fork or whisk for a few minutes. They don’t have to be perfectly smooth.
6. Add two-thirds of the egg, some lemon juice (juice of one lemon or a couple of teaspoons full of lemon juice if your using the stuff out of a bottle) and salt and pepper to the spinach/leek/feta mixture.
8. Grease your baking tray/dish with some oil. Easiest way to do this is to pour a little into your (freshly washed) hand and rub the oil around the dish so all of the inside is covered. Then wash your hands again.
7. Clean your work-surface well and make sure it’s dry. Take a handful of flour and scatter it on the work-surface, and rub it on your hands. This is to stop the pastry from sticking to things like you and the work-surface. If it starts to stick, scatter some more flour on it.
8. Take the pastry out. If it’s in one sheet, then cut it in half and put half to one side. If it’s in two sheets, your dandy.
With your hands, start very carefully stretching the pastry until it is large enough to fit in the baking tray/dish with pastry going up the sides. If you have a rolling pin, then use that instead of your hands, and things will be much easier.
9. Put the stretched sheet of pasty in the dish, then scoop the filling in. Make sure it’s well mixed and evenly spread.
10. Get the second piece of pastry (remember to put some more flour on your hands before picking it up – I always forget and end up stuck to it). Check to see that it will fit over the entire pie. If not, then you need to stretch it as before.
If/when it fits, place it over the top and press the edges of the two layers of pastry together. If you are clever, you can make a rather nice pattern with your finger-marks in the pastry while doing this.
Cut three long slits in the pastry to allow air to escape. If you don’t, your pie will explode.
Finally, take the rest of the egg, dip your (clean) hands in and then rub the egg on the top of the pastry to give the pastry that lovely gold colour (see picture). It has to be rubbed on rather then poured (you can use a pastry brush if you have one) so you don’t end up with an eggy mess. Wash your hands as soon as you are finished with the egg.
Too cook, place in the oven for roughly 40 minutes, until the pastry has risen and is golden.
If you want to prepare in advance, then keep the completed pie in the fridge until ready to cook.
- Serve straight out of the oven, with boiled potatoes and ale or a dry white wine.
- Let it cool a bit and serve it as a summery lunch time food, with salad.
- Leave to cool, cut into slices and store in the fridge. Great to snack on or for lunch. Easy to eat with one hand.
- Serve as a side to a meat based main course.
While this looks challenging at first glance, it’s really not and it will impress people. Preparation will take around an hour altogether, but as I say, it can be made well before time.
Remember this is vegetarian friendly (as long as you use fully vegetarian feta), but not suitable for vegans or people with a gluten allergy.