Hello lovely foodies! Lately I’ve been taking a good look at the website, especially at the photographs, and doing a bit of self-criticism and self-assessment. I can’t believe how happy I was with the website when I first started it; the idea of having a hosted site with my own domain name was exciting, and I couldn’t wait to get stuck in. Unfortunately, and fortunately, my photographs have significantly improved since those days, and I have also developed a much more consistent layout style featuring galleries with multiples of three photos. Looking back, I can’t believe I actually posted quite a few photos of differing sizes and which look absolutely dreadful now when I revisit them, so I’m going through and trying to re-photograph as many of those recipes as I can. Last week I updated one of my favourite recipes, my Sweet Chilli Halloumi Salad, and I’m so delighted with how much better it looks, as well as the home page, the photographs of which I updated a short while ago and which has made such a difference to how professional the site looks.
This week I re-photographed one of my favourites, a really delicious, tasty and satisfying vegetarian meal: Butternut Squash, Spinach and Feta Pie. Reading back through the original recipe I see I promised to produce a shortcrust pastry-making tutorial. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet got around to that because there is nowhere in my new kitchen to film tutorials particularly well, and it’s certainly not photogenic in there (we moved last June and the kitchen needs a lot of work, including the removal of a few walls, so improvisation continues for the time being), so I’ll just describe the method in the recipe. I do hope you love this meal, it’s one of my favourites and is so easy to make. Yes, even the pastry! It has been from the inception of Cooking for Sanity one of my main intentions to combine delicious, healthy, nutritious ingredients with a dose of traditional cooking techniques, and to combine these in order to live with a healthy balance of the two. I adore pastry, and I make it infrequently but enough to use the skill and so as not to fill my family with stodge, but so we all really appreciate it when we do have it. Especially my boys! Here it is for you too.
- 1 butternut squash
- Half a bag of baby spinach
- Tin of chopped tomatoes
- Clove of garlic
- 1 onion
- About 80g feta, cubed or crumbled
- Pinch of chilli flakes
- 3 tsp ground cumin
- 3 tsp ground coriander
- Olive oil
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- About 300g shortcrust pastry
- 1 egg
- About 50ml milk
- 350g plain flour
- 180g salted butter
- 100ml milk
- Pie dish
- Food processor (optional)
Pre-heat the oven to fan 200⁰C.
Peel and chop the squash into approximately 1” cubes, then place on baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil, then shake 2 tsp each of the cumin and coriander evenly over, followed by a good grinding of salt and pepper. Bake for 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt the coconut oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan, add the onion then turn down to a medium-low heat until softening nicely and turning golden. Turn up the heat then add the garlic and remaining spices (including chilli flakes), stir to coat and fry for a couple of minutes until the garlic is starting to colour and the spices are smelling fragrant. Add the chopped tomatoes plus a swill of about 100ml water in the tin, season then bring to the boil. Simmer for 20 minutes until reduced and thick.
Remove from the heat, add the spinach and feta to the pan, cover, then set aside for a couple of minutes to allow the spinach to wilt a little; this makes it easier to stir in. Remove the lid and stir the spinach in properly. When the squash is ready, remove it from the oven then turn the oven temperature down to 180⁰C. Add the squash to the tomato and spinach mix and combine well, then put the mixture in the pie dish.
Make the pastry. Place the flour and butter in a food processor with a pastry blade and blitz until it becomes a breadcrumb consistency. If you don’t have a food processor, simply place flour and butter in a large bowl and rub with your fingers until it resembles breadcrumbs. Remove to a large bowl and add the milk gradually, cutting it in with a blunt knife (a butter knife is good for this) until the milk is combining well with the flour. Don’t add all the milk at once, and when the flour mixture and milk have started to combine nicely, use your hand to bring the dough together. You will find that the 100ml is exactly enough to combine the mixture. Bring all the dough together with your hands into a lovely ball and place on a floured surface. Roll out into as round a shape as you can, but don’t worry too much if it’s not that round, then place the pie dish on top of the pastry. Using a small knife, cut around the rim circumference (not the base circumference if that’s smaller!) plus a bit extra, to enable you to attach the lid to the rim. Then cut some strips about 1.5cm for attaching to the rim of the pie dish. They don’t need to be one length as you will attach them together.
Using a pastry brush (or your finger if you don't have one), apply egg wash to the rim of the pie dish, then attach the long strips until the rim is covered. If you have some pastry offcuts, make them into shapes with which to decorate the pie. Apply egg wash to the pastry rim, then lift the lid onto the top of the pie. Press the lid gently but firmly into the rim all around the circumference of the pie, then brush egg wash all over the lid. If you’ve made any decorations, place them on the lid then egg wash over them too. You will have a lot of egg wash leftover so please don’t try to use it all.
Put the pie in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, then serve.
This recipe feeds our family of two adults and two children of five and seven, but if you need to feed more people, or your children are older, I would recommend simply increasing the filling amounts, for example increasing the amount by one and a half times for two adults and two teenagers. Or if you have four adults with big appetites, just double it. I used a medium sized squash too, but if you use a very large squash you would probably have plenty for two adults and two teenagers. Please play around with the amounts as you see fit, because all families, and all people in general, have such different appetites, that it’s often difficult to say, “This serves an exact amount of people”.
Above all, please enjoy this really yummy recipe and leave me some feedback; I’d love to know how you get on, and also how your pastry making goes.
Thank you very much for reading,