Aromatic spiced chard, leek & feta pie
I love spanakopita, the delicious Greek pie, filled with feta, ricotta and spinach and veiled in wonderful flaky filo pastry. Taking the base recipe as a starting point, I’ve changed things up a little by using a spice blend more akin to Middle Eastern cooking; sumac and ground allspice give the filling a wonderful warmth that perfectly combines with fresh dill. I’ve used chard and spring greens in this recipe but you could pretty much use any green leaf. Unlike spinach, which doesn’t really need to be cooked before being added to the leeks, I’ve blanched the leaves here very briefly so they cook quicker. If you cook the filling ahead, this pie takes only moments to assemble and feel free to use puff pastry if you don’t want to use filo; it’ll be equally delicious! Serve at room temperature or straight from the oven with a generous squeeze of lemon.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 leek, washed and finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
200g chard, stalks separated from leaves and finely sliced and the leaves finely shredded
150g spring greens, tough stalks removed and discarded and leaves finely shredded
Salt Black pepper
1 tsp ground allspice berries
2 tsp ground sumac
3 tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped
6 sheets filo pastry
You’ll also need a 24 x 24cm baking tin or oven proof dish (or something similar)
To serve Lemon wedges
Melt 50g of the butter with the olive oil in a wide frying pan. Add the sliced leeks to the pan with a pinch of salt and cook on a gently heat for 10 minutes until the leeks are starting to soften. Add the sliced chard stalks and chopped garlic and continue to cook gently for another 10 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the leeks have softened completely.
Meanwhile, melt the remaining 25g butter and brush some of this around the base and sides of your baking tin. Using a fork, combine the cheeses with a generous pinch of salt, freshly ground black pepper and the fresh dill. Heat a large pan of salted water to boiling point. Add the shredded cabbage. Cook for 2 minutes before adding the sliced chard. Cook for a further minute and then drain in a colander, allowing all the water to escape and for the vegetables to steam dry.
Once the leeks have been cooking for a total of 20 minutes, add the sumac and allspice and cook for a further 2 minutes. Now add the drained green leaves to the pan along with a generous pinch of salt and some black pepper. Stir everything around and cook on a moderate heat for 5 minutes until the leaves have completely softened and any excess moisture evaporated. Allow to cool very slightly.
Add the cooked leaves and leeks to the cheese and dill mixture. Combine everything thoroughly and taste for seasoning, adding a little more salt if it needs it. Preheat the oven to I90°C/375°F/Fan 175°C/gas mark 5. Brush one sheet of filo pastry all over with the melted butter (keeping the other sheets covered). Lay this in your baking tray with the excess overlapping the edges of the tin. Use your pastry brush to gently push the pastry into the corners of the tin. Butter a second sheet and lay that on top of the first filo sheet in the pan, placing it 90 degrees clockwise in relation to the first sheet (we want to create even amounts of overlapping pastry around the whole baking tray). Repeat this with the 3rd and 4th sheets. Don’t worry if bits of pastry break or split, the beauty with filo is that it’s fairly forgiving once cooked, although when you’re handling it you can think it’s all going wrong! Now pile the filling into the pastry lining, evening it out, and then fold the overlapping bits of pastry into the centre of the pie, brushing with more butter as you go. Use the final two sheets, cut to size, to cover the pie, always brushing well with butter.
Now bake in your preheated oven for around 35 minutes until crisp and golden!