As National Vegetarian Week approaches its end, GBBO 2014 contestant Claire Goodwin embraces her adulthood-found respect for veggie food as the main event on a plate, and shares a recipe sure to have us fighting to be the answer to the age-old question, ‘Who ate all the pies?’
Tea (or dinner to the southern readers), wasn’t tea unless it had mince or bacon as the starring element; and if there was no meat, well, you were obviously just very poor, or having a snack.
If a vegetarian guest did appear then they would be settling down to cheese on toast, or beans on toast, or a carrot.
Our household attitude to non-meat eaters in the ‘80s and ‘90s was very much the same as The Royle Family’s: “She can have a bit of wafer thin ham, can’t she Barbara?”
However, as I have got older, I have grown to love veggies (both the eating variety and the human variety) as not only do they taste delicious (the eating variety, NOT the human variety), but they are also something you eat with your eyes: colourful, pretty, inviting (the eating variety and some of the human variety).
I’ve grown to love decent vegetarian restaurants – I live near Simon Rimmer’s Greens – and appreciate a vegetable as being the star of the plate, not the barely understood acquaintance lingering on the periphery.
I have the opportunity to regularly cook vegetarian food as I have quite a few friends of the non-meat persuasion. And not one of them wears tie-dye fashion or plastic sandals. Though I would imagine Jordan Cox from the Bake Off has some tie-dye garments lurking somewhere…
Now, I’m not saying I could give up bacon, but this pie and chips would definitely give vegetarianism a bargaining tool for me. The trick is to ensure you cook your veggies first and get as much water out of them as possible, otherwise you will end up with a – dun dun derrrrrrrrr – soggy bottom!
Also, be careful on the amounts of olive oil to pre-cook the veg – too much and it will be greasy, however posh your olive oil is. Enjoy!
For the filling
150g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
1 whole aubergine, sliced into discs, approx. 5 mm thick
2 pointed sweet red peppers, cut in half
30 black pitted olives, chopped
3 standard balls of mozzarella, sliced into rounds
4 spring onions, cut lengthways into ribbons
150g asparagus tips, trimmed
Around 15 basil leaves
1 small punnet baby plum tomatoes or cherry tomatoes (59p at Aldi this week!), halved
5 or 6 sundried tomatoes, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
Salt and pepper
For the shortcrust
150g plain flour
Pinch of salt
Approx 4 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons semolina or cous cous
For the chips
1 butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded and cut into chips
Salt and pepper
Make the pastry
1. Rub the butter into the flour to make breadcrumbs (you can do this in a food processor).
2. Stir in the salt.
3. Add the water little by little and bring the mix together to make a dough.
4. Wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Prepare your filling
1. De-seed your tomatoes, as otherwise they will get very wet in the pie. Place your tomatoes in a plastic bag with a teaspoon of olive oil and a quarter of the chopped garlic. Tip out onto an oven tray and roast in a hot oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, tip off any remaining water and set aside on kitchen roll to absorb any remaining water.
2. Place the aubergine rounds in a plastic food saver bag with one teaspoon of olive oil, a pinch of salt and a quarter of the chopped garlic. Seal the bag and work the olive oil onto the rounds. The salt will stop the aubergine from being bitter. Griddle on a hot dry griddle plate or pan, or fry in a regular frying pan until cooked though. Set aside.
3. Fry the mushrooms in half a teaspoon of olive oil, salt and pepper. You want them to be caramelised and the water to evaporate off. Set aside on kitchen roll to absorb any remaining water.
4. Griddle/fry the asparagus tips and peppers and set aside.
Prepare your chips
1. Blanch your chips in boiling water for seven minutes.
2. Place your butternut squash chips into a plastic bag with one tablespoon of olive oil, the remaining garlic and salt and pepper. Work the oil, garlic and seasoning onto the chips, fully coating them all.
3. Tip onto an oven tray. Set aside to cook when we cook the pie.
Build the pie
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Brush some olive oil around your pie dish. I use a 20cm dish.
3. Roll out your shortcrust and cut a piece that covers your pie dish and leaves an overhang around the edges.
4. Sprinkle the semolina onto the base of the pie; this will absorb the excess juices and you will avoid a soggy bottom.
5. Start to layer the veg and cheese in the following order – aubergine, peppers, spring onion, mozzarella, basil leaves, plum tomatoes, olives, sundried tomatoes, asparagus, mushrooms. You will be left with a lovely large humped mound of veg.
6. Roll out the remaining shortcrust and make a disc 50% larger than the pie dish diameter.
7. Egg wash around the base layer of pastry.
8. Add your lid pastry, working it over the mound.
9. Push the two pieces of pastry together around the rim of the pie dish.
10. Cut off any excess and pinch the pastry together to make a crust.
11. Cut two or three holes in the top of the pie to avoid explosions.
12. Egg wash the top.
Put the pie in the oven for 10 minutes, then add the tray of chips. Cook for a further 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden and when tapped is solid under touch.
Cut a massive piece and stuff it in your pie hole.1453 Views
Claire is a speech therapist, baker, cake decorator, sometime radio guest and writer. She writes about food, being fat and living with mental health problems @bake_therapist; www.baketherapy.co.uk; www.facebook.com/CakeChemistryUK