Saturday, 15 March 2008

Pie with filo roses

I wanted to make this pie on Thursday night but it was too hot – at 6pm it was still 37 C! We had soup from the freezer instead. It was hot again yesterday – 40 C. Ideally I would just live on salads and burgers or vegie sausages when it is so hot. But I have been wanting to make this pie for ages and had the ingredients. E was pleased because he wants a hot cooked meal every night no matter what the weather – you can take the boy out of Scotland but you can’t take Scotland out of the boy!

First instruction in the recipe was preheat the oven. Gave me a laugh. If I must use the oven in this weather, any inclination towards preheating goes out the window. It makes me remember being 15 years old and moving house. We went from a kitchen with an electric oven to one with a gas oven. My mother was delighted and told me that I could bake any time I wanted now because we didn’t need to preheat the oven. Ever since I have been of the notion that gas ovens don’t really need preheating. I have included preheating in the recipe and often do in other recipes but I don’t always preheat. Especially when it is swelteringly hot.

This pie does have a bit of a summery green feel to it. It is a little like spanakopita but isn’t packed with salty firm fetta, so the spinach and leeks are more of a feature. The filling is quite moist and creamy with the additional nuttiness of cashews, and the fresh flavours of tomatoes and basil.

The best thing about this pie is the pastry. If like me, rolling out pastry makes you want to screw it up in a ball and throw it in the bin, then this is a pie for you. The topping actually does involve screwing up filo pastry in a ball. In my more poetic moments, it reminds me of pastry roses. But the effort is so minimal that you would not work up a sweat. Suits me on a hot day.

Luckily by the time we ate, the cool change had come and we could eat dinner outside. Sadly being outside in the refreshing breeze meant I forgot to turn off the oven and it took quite a bit longer for the house to cool down.

Spinach and Ricotta Pie with Filo Roses
(from UK Safeway Magazine)
Serves 4-6

300g cherry tomatoes, on the vine, halved
500g spinach, washed
1 tbsp olive oil, plus oil spray
2 leeks, washed, trimmed and sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
Handful fresh basil, torn
250g ricotta cheese
50g freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
100g toasted cashews, chopped
4-6 sheets filo pastry

Preheat oven to 190 C and bake tomatoes for about 10-15 minutes. (The tomatoes shouldn’t be too soft because I think I overcooked mine this time and they were less noticeable in the pie.) Cook spinach in large covered pan 2-3 minutes til wilted. Drain and squeeze excess liquid. (I defrosted 500g frozen spinach and just drained most of the water off).

Gently cook leeks (I used 1 leek and most of a bunch of spring onions) and garlic in oil til soft – about 3-5 minutes. Add spinach and basil and stir til combined. Remove from heat and add ricotta, parmesan, eggs, cashews and stir. Gently stir in tomatoes last. Season. Spoon into a 25cm ovenproof dish.

Cut filo sheets into 4 squares each. Spray each square with oil spray and scrunch up like a rose (or a piece of paper you are about to throw in the bin). Place on pie. Repeat with remaining filo til you have covered the pie. Bake for 20-30 minutes until pastry is golden brown. It is good served with sauce or chutney.

On the Stereo:
John Barleycorn Reborn: Dark Britannica – Various Artists


  1. What a gorgeous dish! I love the look of the filo "roses." Funny, what you say about the summer heat reminds me exactly of what I say about winter cold!! But sorry about the oven still being on (would that count as "post-heating" the oven?) ;) .

  2. Yumm I like this healthier version of spanakopita. The roses are a great idea. :)

  3. Must be filo week at your house Johanna! First that yummy nectarine dessert and now your spinach pie! I love the lightness and crunch of the filo dough after it is baked! I would have to slap my hand to keep from eating all of the roses off of your pie! The whole dish sounds yummy and very healthy!

  4. Thanks for visiting our blog. Your spanikopita version is so interesting. 40 Degrees looks pretty good since we're still looking at snow here.

  5. Lovely roses! Now I get to have edible rose :D

    Came from PPN.

  6. thanks Ricki - the roses are wonderful - but yes I know what you mean about my heat and your snow - we really should be able to swap!

    thanks Ashley - yes, I love those roses - am sure there are lots of other fillings they would be great with

    thanks Deb - I have had a filo week - and now just want to finish up the packet of filo pastry that seems to have been in the fridge well long enough - but I am partial to a bit of filo (raw or cooked it tastes good)

    thanks Giz - snow sounds so good at the moment - it is 37 C today and far far too hot

    thanks Tigerfish - I also like the idea of edible roses! (actually I think this dish made me think of the icing roses we made at school)

  7. Love the filo roses :) Spinach and ricotta pie is a definite fav.

  8. Looks and sounds lovely. I don't use filo pastry much but this is a great idea.

  9. This looks like my kind of pie, Johanna! I will have a go at it and let you know how I get on!

    Try dry frying the cherry tomatoes whole, until the flesh begins to burst. They are just cooked a little at this point. I like adding a little balsamic vinegar when they do.

  10. thanks Pixie - it is such a classic combination, isn't it!

    thanks Katie - I don't use it so much but when I do I always think I should more :-)

    thanks Holler - I like your idea of dry frying the tomatoes - I really did resent putting the oven on in this heat - I was even very tempted to just put the pie under the grill to crisp up the roses instead of baking it!

  11. YUM, YUM, YUM! I really need to try working with filo pastry again. I love it, but my earliest experiences did not go so well, and some of it was hurled indeed, though not into the bin, but out of the kitchen and into the living room. My temper is not quite as bad as it used to be, as was proved yesterday when I merely punched some dough in a failed first attempt at making some tarts yesterday.

  12. Love, love, love the filo roses! What a terrific presentation!

  13. With leeks, cashews and spring onions - wonderful.

    It's been so horribly hot...just the thought of a pre-heating oven makes me want to leave the house!

    Love those roses. Much less fuss than layering sheets, I reckon. Prettier, too.

  14. Very attractive presentation! I can relate to your comments about dealing with filo, it can be so frustrating at times.

  15. thanks Lisa - I think pastry can bring out the worst in tempers - you have lots of sympathy from me on that one - but filo pastry does taste great once you ignore all the silly crumpled sheets and flaky bits falling everywhere

    thanks Ann - I think it is a good dish to impress

    thanks Lucy - I am looking forward to this heatwave being over

    thanks LisaRene - I am so glad it is not just me to find pastry frustrating


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