I know, terrible pun which doesn’t quite work as it doesn’t scan along with the song but I promise that this recipe is much better than my headline wit.
Swept along on the winds of last week’s Moroccan challenge, we remain within the same gastronomic climes with a Moroccan roasted vegetable filo pie.
This was a recipe which was borne out of necessity (i.e. hunger and greed). In my experience, most experimental meals borne out of convenience tend less towards happy accidents and more towards a mismatched confection of the dregs of the refrigerator. Whenever I read food writers who trill about successful food accidents, I can’t help but think with a degree of cynicism, “Well, who does have leftover wine/roast potatoes/pasta” lying around (none of these things exist in my universe).
Well, consider myself thoroughly corrected because just before Christmas, I was a girl with some leftover filo pastry. (I do believe I have never written a more middle-class sentence than that).
(Oh wait, I do believe I’m about to top it).
If you, like me, are part of a vegetable box scheme you will know the inevitable point at the end of the week when you end up with a glut of courgettes and carrots. (Because the butternut squash or aubergine, the starlet of the box, is always the first one to go…) This is a perfect solution to your dilemma and justifies the minor inconvenience of seeking out a packet of filo pastry.
Essentially, the filling of this pie consists of all the vegetables which are left lingering, sad and wilted, at the bottom of the vegetable drawer. You know the ones I mean. The floppy carrots which are only good for stock making; the courgettes which you fear have turned bitter; the wizened onion sprouting a Fu-Manchu style moustache. Prune and spruce the runts of your vegetable box as best you can and with the help of some olive oil, cumin seeds, chilli flakes and a hot oven, you are well on your way to a rich, smoky and tender filling fit for a pie. The silky heat of the filling provides a bold contrast to the crisp and buttery filo pastry, combine with a crisp salad dressed with lemon juice and olive oil for maximum bliss.
Moroccan roasted vegetable filo pie
serves four greedy people
selection of vegetables for roasting (aubergine, courgette, butternut squash, sweet potato are all attractive suitors for this particular task)
large red onion
couple of cloves of garlic (still in skins)
two generous handfuls of lentils (green, red, puy – take your pick, I’m equal op as far as lentils are concerned. If you prefer your bulk to come from chickpeas then I would not be at all averse to this deviation…)
a tin of chopped tomatoes
dried chilli flakes
bay leaf (optional)
five or six sheets of filo pastry
Preheat your oven to 210c/gas mark 5.
Chop the vegetables and the red onion for roasting into large chunks (bearing in mind that roasted vegetables will shrink and dehydrate – the bigger you chop them, the more moist and tender they will stay). Throw these into a large baking tray with the unpeeled garlic cloves with a generous slug of olive oil and dress with the cumin, chilli, salt and pepper. (The garlic cloves will roast inside their own papery skins and become wonderfully sweet, perfect for adding depth to your tomato sauce later.) Roast for 35 minutes or until cooked and tender.
Once cooked, tip all the vegetables into a large saucepan (make sure to pop the garlic cloves out of their jackets first) and cover with the chopped tomatoes. Fill the empty tin up halfway with water and sloosh around to get the remains of the tomato juice and tip into the pan. Add a bay leaf (if you have it to hand) and two handfuls of lentils. The idea is to cook the lentils by allowing them to absorb the tomato juice – you want the resulting filling to consist of lentils and vegetables just bound by the tomato sauce, rather than a slick of tomato with roasted vegetables bobbing around in it. This will prevent the pastry from getting soggy as well.
Line a non-stick baking tray, tart tin or pie dish with the filo pastry, so that the bottom consists of overlapping layers of filo and with enough overhang to scrunch up on top of the pie.
Pour the vegetable and lentil filling into the filo-lined tin and artfully arrange the top in undulating waves of filo. Brush with melted butter and return to the oven. Bake until burnished and golden, eat whilst hot, salty and crisp.