As my Sunday tradition details, when going to a friends house I must always have some sort of baked good on my person. The odd few times I've turned up at said friends house empty handed the mood instantly dampens and the guilt trips commence. Since the last few trips have been of the empty handed persuasion I felt I should really make it up to my wonderful chums in the shape of a pie. Nothing says I love you like a pie!
What I love about pies is that anything and everything goes. Got some potatoes and cheese that needs using up, make a pie. Some berries threatening to go bad stashed at the bottom of your fridge, make a pie! It really is the ultimate fridge clear out meal.
I happened upon this glorious specimen as I was casually leafing through the latest copy of Delicious Magazine last week at work. I flicked past the page and paused, I had that feeling. You know the one, when you know you're missing out on something good. So, I turned back the page and gasped at the beautiful image I was confronted with. Unfortunately, I was far too eager to play with my new camera to allow the pie a proper cooling period and attacked it while still warm. This resulted in the sloppy filling rather than the perfectly layered rainbow of yumminess in Delicious, but hey, I'm an impatient child at heart.
Butternut Squash, spinach and goat's cheese pie with cheesy pastry
2 large butternut squashes, peeled, de-seeded and cut into thick slices
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp ras el hanout (I couldn't find this so I made my own from 1/4 tsp each of all spice, turmeric, mace, paprika, pepper, coriander and cardamon)
Pinch of chilli flakes
2-3 red onions, thinly sliced
4 whole garlic cloves, skins on
1kg baby spinach (I used normal spinach)
50g pine nuts
200g soft, rindless goat cheese sliced
350g plain flour
50g coarse polenta (I used fine)
150g cold butter, diced
a pinch of salt
60g grated parmesan (I used local strong cheddar)
For the pastry mix the flour, polenta and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and rub together till the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the cheese and 5tbsp of cold water (add the water slowly, you may not need it all) till the dough sticks together. Kneed gently until it forms a ball, wrap the pastry in cling film and leave to chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200C. Scatter the butternut squash in a large roasting tray and drizzle with half of the olive oil, scatter over the chili flakes, ras el hanout and cumin seeds and season well with salt and black pepper. Roast in the oven, stirring occasionally for 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, add the sliced onions and garlic cloves to another roasting tray with the rest of the olive oil. Halfway through roasting the squash add the onions to the oven and cook for 20 minutes. Remove the squash and onions from the oven, squeeze out the garlic from the skins and mash the roasted garlic up with the onions.
Place the spinach in a colander and pour over a kettle of boiling water. Refresh with some cold water and squeeze out any excess liquid. Mix with ricotta and season with salt.
On a lightly floured surface roll out 2/3 of the pastry and use it to line a 23cm springform time(I used an 18cm tin and reduced the cooking time to 25 mins). Add half the spinach mixture in a layer, then distribute half of the squash on top of that. Scatter with half of the pine nuts and goat's cheese. Repeat for another layer before adding the garlicky onions on top.
Roll out the rest of the pastry then lay on top of the pie, pushing the edges to seal well. Make a hole in the centre and decorate the top with the left over pastry. Brush the top of the pie with beaten egg and sprinkle with a handful of parmesan. Bake in the preheated oven for 35 - 40 minutes till golden brown on top. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before removing from the tin.