My Veggie beds are filled with the onset of Spring.
So is my head. It's not as happy as my Veggie patch.....
Melbourne is notorious for dishing up hayfever at levels beyond tolerable.
Despite the way I feel it gives me complete and utter joy to head out to the veggie patch and come back inside with arms laden.
I have spoken before here of how although me and my family are meat eaters we probably only eat meat 3-4 times a week. For reasons of personal and environmental health. When we are so lucky in Australia to be able to obtain such beautiful vegetable produce it makes total and utter sense to grab the opportunity to celebrate the Veg!
Yesterday as I looked out to the backyard and saw the Veggie patch literally overflowing my mind wandered to this Traditional Italian Easter pie. I have seen it & read about it but have never made one before. Yesterday seemed like the perfect excuse.
The few days previous had been pretty tough going, back to school and changing to Daylight savings time meant I had five VERY tired children on my hands. It wasn't pretty.
Pastry making was in order.
It provides a meditative calm. Hands in, mind empty. Perfect.
I - as usual - have messed things up from the Traditional method (and am bracing for the usual backlash).
But as a cook, I encourage everyone to mix things up a little. I'm not sure really that we do anyone any favours in the kitchen by being so adamant about how 'things should be just so'. Sometimes it fails but I say- go for it! See what happens- if it fails well so be it and move ahead to something else next time.
Having an open mind in life and in the kitchen is a good thing I think. Being open to new ways, new methods, differing flavours- this is how we discover new loveliness after all!
And loveliness is a thing to aim for right?!
TORTA PASQUALINA (ITALIAN VEGETABLE PIE):
As I mentioned above this is Traditionally served at Easter time- but in Italy Easter is at Spring so I figured I may be forgiven.
The idea remains the same- a celebration of new beginnings and bounty.
Often it uses Ricotta but I didn't have any, instead substituting Fetta.
Really I think you could use almost any manner of fillings.
The idea remains the same- fill a gorgeous pastry lining with yumminess = WIN!
I used Maggie Beer's famous (and failsafe) Sour Cream Pastry for the casing. Oh my.
If you are scared of pastry making this recipe will become your new best friend.
This pie is big enough to serve 8 people for dinner with salad.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED:
for the pastry:
- 200g butter, diced
- 250g plain flour
- 150g sour cream
for the pie filling:
- 8 whole peeled hard boiled eggs
- 1 large bunch silverbeet, chopped (stalks as well!)
- a large bunch Broad bean pods, blanched and outer husks removed.
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, finely diced
- 200g fetta, crumbled
- 5 potatoes, sliced and pan fried till golden
- S & P
for the pastry~
Place diced butter and flour in a food processor and blitz till like breadcrumbs.
Add sour cream and blitz till combined.
Remove onto a floured surface and work till combined.
Roll into a large ball and cover with cling film. Let rest in the fridge for 20 minutes before rolling out on a floured bench.
For the pie~
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Heat a tablespoon of butter in a non- stick pan (medium heat).
Add the onion and fry till translucent. Add garlic. Fry till fragrant - a minute or so.
Add silverbeet stems & fry till soft.
Now add the leaves and fry till soft. Add broad beans & stir through.
Season with S & P and grate a generous amount of Nutmeg.
Remove from heat and set aside.
Grease and line a 23cm Springform cake tin.
Cut 1/3 of the pastry ball off (this will be the lid of your pie!)
Roll out the other 2/3rds pastry to about 3mm and then carefully roll the entire circle back around the rolling pin very gently (so the rolling pin is covered in the pastry).
Now lift the rolling pin - with pastry on it- over the cake tin and carefully roll out the pastry making sure to leave enough pastry to use as the walls leaving a bit to hang over the edges too.
Gently add some silverbeet mix and then the boiled eggs, then the spuds and then the fetta cheese and finally some more silverbeet- or use whatever fillings you fancy!
Now roll out that saved 1/3 pastry to 3mm thickness and use the base of the tin to press the outline gently to get your sizing right.
Cut around this mark and place on top of your pie.
Cut a small air hole- or prick a few holes with a fork.
Press edges together to seal and place into preheated oven for 30 mins or until pastry is golden brown.
Remove from oven and remove outer wall of cake tin.
Slice and enjoy hot. (although this is equally delicious refrigerated and served cold)