Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Butternut squash pie

I have been the executive decision-maker in this house for some time now.

Famous decisions I have executed executively have been to switch to quilted bog roll, to convert the loft, to stop giving Kitty baby rice and to buy a family diesel estate.

They've all been very successful decisions and riding the crest of this success-wave I have now decided executively that we need to eat less meat in the house.

For one, I don't like buying meat. Since Kitty was born, I haven't been able to eat lamb anymore. First, I've decided that it stinks. And second, I feel like I may as well go up to the nursery and hack one of my child's limbs off as eat a leg of lamb.

Every time I walk down the meat aisle in Waitrose in the back of my mind is the terrible worry that all these animals had a ghastly time, that they died in pain, that I am a monster. This is despite me buying only the most faithfully organic and free-range farm-based meat I can.

But my range of vegetarian cooking - that isn't pasta - is pitiful. I can cook a very good spanakopita but that's it. So recently I have been casting round for interesting vegetarian recipes.

This butternut squash pie is a sort of made-up thing inspired by a pie I saw in the Cranks Bible, which is a vegetarian cookbook, but which I mostly don't find that exciting. It's full of fucking SOUP and you know how much I hate soup. But there is this pie in it. The other ingredients I added because I thought they might be fun. It is also based on the spanakopita principle of using filo pastry as a casing.

I mostly fucking hate butternut squash. It dates back to the time when I was on the Atkins diet and ate it all the time. I grew sick of the sight of it. But once in a while, it's fine, especially when combined with a lot of cheese and spinach and pastry.

This worked very well but it is very rich and I would advise that you eat it with an extremely sharp, cold cucumber or tomato salad. This makes enough for 4-6 people and I used a 25cm flan dish.

So here we go.

Esther's butternut squash pie

1 butternut squash
4 sage leaves
some butter
1 bag baby spinach leaves
1 pack dolcelatte (about 150g)
some olive oil
filo pastry - about 8 sheets
salt and pepper
3 eggs
some cream if you have it but don't worry if not

Preheat the oven to 180C

1 Peel and chop your butternut squash and then cook it gently in a frying pan with a lid on for a good hour with the shredded sage leaves in some olive oil. Butternut squash seems so hard and unforgiving that you may doubt that it will cook down in this time, but it will.

2 Meanwhile wash and wilt the spinach in 0.5cm of water for about 5 minutes

3 Lightly toast the walnuts in a dry frying pan and chop

4 When the buttenut squash is mostly soft, combine it with the dolcelatte (torn up by you) the spinach, the walnuts, the eggs and the cream - if using. Sprinkle over a very large pinch of salt and about 10 turns of the pepper grinder.

5 Lay about four sheets of filo pastry in whatever dish or tin you're going to cook this in. Brush olive oil between the sheets so they stick together. Pile in the fillling and then lay more sheets of filo on top. Bung in the oven for 20 minutes.

p.s. if you have any favourite vegetarian recipes that aren't pasta, potato or risotto-based email me: esther.walker@gmail.com or leave a comment.

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