Rustic meat-free pasties inspired by Greek spanakopita
These rustic, meat-free pasties take their lead from Greek spanakopita and are perfect for picnics. They can be made with any combination of greens you like—it’s all about using up whatever you’ve got lurking in your fridge. I came up with them after a meagre and rather random haul of greens from my allotment: a mix of spinach, chard and kale along with some window-box herbs. The cumin in the pastry adds a pleasing earthiness, while the za’atar brings a bright blast of herbaceousness. Serve with a tomato salad.
For the pastry:
180g light spelt or plain ﬂour, and 20g wholegrain rye ﬂour (or 200g spelt or plain ﬂour)
100g ricotta or full-fat natural yoghurt
1 tsp ﬁne sea salt
½ tsp ground cumin
20ml olive oil
1–3 tbsp iced water
For the filling:
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 clove of garlic, crushed
2 slices of preserved lemon, deseeded and ﬁnely chopped, or grated zest of ½ lemon
250g mixed greens (chard, spinach, watercress, kale) and soft herbs (lovage, parsley, dill, basil, tarragon)
1 tbsp lemon juice
75g ricotta or cream cheese
100g feta, camembert or mozzarella, diced or roughly chopped
1 tsp pickled green chillies (optional)
Nutmeg, for grating
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp za’atar
First, make the pastry. Place the flour, ricotta, salt and cumin in the bowl of a food processor and blitz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the olive oil and iced water, a tablespoon at a time, sprinkling it all across the crumb and blitzing between additions until the dough clumps together (you may not need all the water). Tip the dough out into a bowl and mould it into a ball. Wrap it in greaseproof paper (rather than cling film, which makes it sweat) and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 30 mins.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and slide in the onion, garlic and preserved lemon or lemon zest with a pinch of salt. Cook for about 5 mins, until softened and fragrant but not colouring, then add the greens. Season with sea salt, black pepper and a little lemon juice, put the lid on and let them wilt down for a couple of minutes. Transfer the greens to a sieve to drain, pressing down to get rid of any excess moisture. Roughly chop them, then tip into a bowl, add the cheeses and chillies (if using) and toss to combine, with a little fresh nutmeg and some salt and pepper. Leave to cool.
Remove the pastry from the fridge and divide it into four equal balls, pressing the balls into discs. Dust the surface with flour and roll each ball out to a circle about 20cm in diameter and just a little thinner than a pound coin.
Preheat the oven to 200C and line a baking sheet with baking parchment.
Fill each circle of pastry with the cooled greens and cheese mix, leaving a 2cm border around the edge of the filling, drizzle over a little more olive oil and fold the pastry around the filling to seal. It’s up to you how you do this: you can either fold one half of pastry over the filling, seal to the other half and crimp like a pasty, or fold the edges up into the middle like an envelope or a little bag. Once formed, place on the lined baking sheet and chill for 10 mins, until firm.
Remove the pies from the fridge and brush them with the beaten egg. Scatter over the za’atar and bake in the oven for 35-40 mins, until the pastry is crisp and golden.
Recipe: Rosie Birkett from The Joyful Home Cook (Harper Collins)
Image: Helen Cathcart