It's here! Pi day! What...you've never heard of it? Well to be honest, neither had I until last year and it is now set to become an annual celebration for us and one of favorite reasons to get together to cook and eat.
Pi day is the day when the date matches the mathematical constant Pi (3.14 just in case you were wondering!) And in celebration my girlfriend organised a pie baking (and eating) competition. This idea really tickled the hidden nerd, and not so hidden glutton, in me! I roped in my friends and family in facebook land and we had a fantastic family day baking and eating. This year my sister has taken up the torch and is rallying the bakers. The competition looks to be tough but I am confident!
To celebrate the success of our crowdfunding campaign (We did it! We hit 100% Thank you everyone!) I wanted to make a pie in which I could grow some of the ingredients. And so in a complete turn around from my competition winning ;) slow roasted lamb pie last year. This year we are going vegetarian with this delicious herb pie.
You could grow the parsley, mint and chives in your Eden planters. Being hardy plants they can tolerate most light conditions and a little neglect so are easy to grow and are low maintenence plants. This recipe would likely use all the herbs in your pot in one go but trust me, it is completely worth it. Spinach will grow well in containers too, so it is possible that you could grow your own pie! You'd just need the 12 pack of planters to grow the amount needed! (You can still get a great deal on the planter here)
Yotam Otteleghi is one of my favorite chefs. Herbs and vegetables play a starring role in his dishes and his flavour combinations are a constant inspiration. He is not a vegetarian, although many of his recipes are vegetable based, and it is this that I think that makes his recipes so special. The dishes are approached from a food lovers point of view and are full of flavour and beautifully fresh. So it is no suprise that my inspiration comes from his herb pie recipe
I have only made minor changes to the original recipe. I dropped the roquette as the kids don’t like the bitterness and even I found it a little distracting and substituted spinach for swiss chard, partly as a nod to the delicious and similar Greek Spanikopita, a staple at every pot-luck dinner when I was growing up in Melbourne, and also because swiss chard is virtually impossible to get hold of where we live.
I’ve also included an extra step, wilting and draining the spinach first before adding it back to the onion and celery mix. After developing the flavour of the onions and celery it seems such a waste to let it all drain away! You can of course follow his recipe exactly and save yourself the extra step.
I have to confess that I won’t be making the pastry this year. Making filo is way beyond my cooking skills! I hope it doesn’t effect my chances in the “competition”. Hey, if its good enough for Ottelenghi, its good enough for me!
Eden Herb Pi
Inspired by Yotam Ottelenghi's Herb Pie from the Jerusalum Cookbook
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for brushing the pastry
1 large onion, diced
150g celery, thinly sliced
50g spring onion, chopped
30g flat-leaf parsley, chopped
30g mint, chopped
20g dill, chopped
120g ricotta cheese, crumbled
100g mature/ vintage Cheddar
2 heaped tbls parmesan, finely grated
60g feta, crumbled
grated zest of 1 lemon
2 medium free-range eggs
⅓ tsp sea salt
½ tsp black pepper ground
1 tsp caster sugar
10 sheets filo pastry
Wash your spinach and drain. Chop or shred the leaves coarsely and slice the stalks finely if using.
Gently heat a deep frying pan (I used a wok!) and add the spinach stalks first and stir for a minute before adding the leaves. Stir it gently until it the leaves have wilted (this will only take a couple of minutes) Remove the spinach to a colander and drain, squeezing out the water. Wet spinach will result in dreaded soggy pastry!
Wipe out the pan and warm the oil on medium heat. Add the onion and celery, cooking gently until soft but not coloured. Once soft add the rocket and spring onions then the spinach to the mix and stir well. Once softened remove the pan from the heat and stir in the herbs. Remove from the pan and set aside the mixture to cool. The mixture should not be wet. If it is too wet put the mixture into a colander to drain and cool.
In a bowl roughly crumble the feta, ricotta cheddar and parmesan and mix gently with a fork. You do not want to create a mush just an even distribution of cheeses.
Add the lightly beaten eggs sugar, salt and pepper and lemon zest and cooled veg/herb mix and give it a final gently mix. Use your hands for this step to get it all evenly distributed. Set this aside while you prepare the pastry.
In a 22cm pie dish lay out a layer of pastry and brush with olive oil, lay another on top and brush with oil. Continue until you have used up 5 sheets. Spoon the filling over the pastry and lay a sheet of pastry over the top and brush with oil. Continue for 5 sheets. Carefully crumple up the top layers of pastry to get a lovely crunchy top. Brush the top with oil and put in a moderate oven for 30- 40 mins until the top turns brown and crispy.