This is perhaps best described as a spanokopita that detoured to Suffolk via Wales.
A spanokopita, of course, is a Greek pie made with filo pastry and filled with spinach and feta. But when I conducted a straw poll on Mrs Portly’s Facebook page to ask readers what they’d like me to cook for this week’s British Pie Week, Penny asked me to concentrate on great British ingredients and Jo suggested leek and cheese (and filo).
So I substituted Welsh Caerphilly for the feta, as they’re both sharp and crumbly. Jane from Fromage Homage, an expert on British cheese, told me that in the ’60s, when Caerphilly had fallen from favour with the British public, one producer was virtually kept afloat by the London Greek community. Good enough for me.
And as we still have a lot of leeks in the garden, it made sense to use them in place of most of the spinach. I think it all comes together rather well. I used ready-made filo, although there are recipes on the web if you want to make your own.
I bottled out of making my own ricotta because I simply didn’t have time, but again, there are plenty of recipes available (try this one from John at From The Bartolini Kitchens) if you want to keep the pie strictly local.
Leek and Caerphilly Filo Pie
12 baby leeks (about 500g trimmed weight), washed and cut into rings
A double handful of baby spinach, roughly shredded
1 bunch of spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
250g Caerphilly (I used Gorwydd), roughly mashed
40g parmesan, grated
3 eggs, beaten
15g fresh dill, chopped
A good grating of nutmeg
Plenty of freshly ground black pepper
250g pack of filo pastry (about 12 sheets)
About 200g melted butter + more for cooking the leeks
A heaped tablespoon of sesame seeds (optional but good)
Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Grease a 20 x 30 cm baking pan with butter. A tin will give you crisper pastry than earthenware.
Heat a big knob of butter in a pan and gently fry the leeks until they have softened but not coloured. Set aside to cool.
Roughly mash the Caerphilly in a big bowl and add the parmesan and ricotta, eggs, spinach, spring onions, dill, nutmeg and black pepper. When the leeks have cooled, add them to the filling and mix well.
Unroll the filo and put it on your board, covered with a damp tea towel. Line the tin with half of the filo, a sheet at a time, brushing each with melted butter before adding the next.
Pack in the filling and top with the remaining filo, again adding a sheet at a time and brushing well with butter. Tuck in the edges and trim the sides. Using a sharp knife, score the top in a criss-cross pattern, cutting through to the filling here and there to allow steam to escape during cooking.
Sprinkle the top with sesame seeds, if using, and bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until golden brown and crisp. Remove from the oven and allow the pie to sit and set for 15 minutes before serving. We ate it with a simple green salad.
NB: if some of the pictures are less than stellar, that’s because I road-tested the pie on our friends Karon and Simon and I drank far too much wine. 🙂