Nice as pie


Redmond Cabot

‘Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant’. So said Robert Louis Stevenson.
In the heart of bleak winter we need to remember to sow the seeds for future growth. All around Ireland people are getting ready to germinate and propagate seeds for the coming brighter and warmer season. Storm Denis arrived last week; when it left, our polytunnel covering had gone with it! Will what we sowed still survive? More work to be done in the garden me thinks.
However, there are still winter beauties in our cupboards to enjoy before the ‘hungry gap’ leaves us scratching our heads.
A pastry pie is delicious and warming, both physically and spiritually. A pastry pie made with shop-bought puff pastry is considerably easier to produce than making your own puff pastry, so no excuses.

Red’s simple spinach pie
For this recipe you can even use frozen spinach, shock horror! By adding lightly toasted cashew or pine nuts a nutty flavor circulates around the pie to warm the coldest soul. However, the amount of times I have burnt ‘lightly roasted nuts’… be aware, be very aware, of that hot pan on the hob.
You can serve this pie on its own with nothing else; crunch, flavor, taste, texture, it’s all there. Look out for the crazy but lovely dessert at the end of this recipe.

What you need

  • 375g shop-bought puff pastry
  • 1kg frozen spinach
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 free-range eggs, whisked
  • 100g goats cheese, cut into chunks
  • Pine or cashew nuts, chopped and lightly toasted
  • 1 tspn each cumin and fennel seeds
  • ½ tspn dried thyme
  • Sprinkle of fresh thyme
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Seasoning

What you do
Place your frozen spinach in a pot with a splash of water, stir and defrost using the warmth of the hob. Tip it into a colander and press dry.
Over a medium heat, prepare a frying pan with good glug of olive oil, add in the seeds and cook for a minute. Add the onion, sauté for five to six minutes, then add the thyme.
Add in your spinach, squeeze some lemon over the mixture and season.
Add the eggs (keeping some egg-wash back for glazing) and mix. Ladle half the mixture into an oven dish (approximately 25cm x 20cm), sprinkle in the goats cheese and nuts, and add the remaining half of the mixture.
Roll out your pastry on a dry, floured surface to the desired thickness, about 5mm, then lay the pastry over the top of your spinach mixture. Press the edges of the pastry in with your hands ’til it sticks to the rim of the oven dish, and trim off the surplus with a good knife. Brush the last of the whisked egg on the top of pastry for a glaze, and place in the overn. Cook in the oven at 200°C for around 25 minutes – not enough to darken the pastry too much! (No, I would NEVER do that, not I…) Serve on warmed plates.
If you want to make a dessert to go with it, beetroot ice cream with chocolate sauce is pretty impressive, and really easy. Simply boil a couple of washed beetroots, let them cool, mash them and blend them with shop-bought ice cream. For the sauce, melt some milk chocolate in a small dish in a hot-water bath, thin out the melted chocolate with some cream, and pour over the ice cream. A decadent dessert if ever there was one. The human body naturally requires more fat in colder times you know!

Red Cabot is interested in food, nature and small things. He sells his food at Westport Country Markets in St Anne’s Boxing Club, James’s Street car park, Westport, every Thursday, from 8am to 1pm.