Around the world in 80 dishes No. 67: Filo pie

Ingredients to serve 6
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Indy Lifestyle Online

650g young spinach leaves
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 leeks, trimmed and sliced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
Sea salt, black pepper
100g unsalted butter, melted, plus 25g
4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
25g fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
25g watercress, coarsely chopped
300g feta, cut into 1cm dice
1 x 250g packet of filo pastry

Method

Homage to those big pans of filo tart with spinach and feta that grace the rickety tables of seaside Greek tavernas beneath scanty bamboo mats for shade.

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add half the spinach and blanch it for 2 minutes, then transfer it to a colander in the sink using a slotted spatula and repeat with the remainder. Using a potato masher, press out as much of the water as possible – it's important to remove all the excess so that the pastry doesn't go soggy when it's cooked.

At the same time, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the leeks, thyme and some seasoning and fry them for 5-10 minutes until soft and lightly coloured, stirring now and again. Transfer them to a large bowl. Melt the 25g of butter in the pan you cooked the leeks in over a medium heat. Add the garlic and briefly fry until aromatic, then add the spinach, season, and cook for a few minutes to infuse it with the garlic, stirring occasionally. Add to the bowl with the leeks and leave to cool.

To cook the pie, preheat the oven to 180C fan/200C/gas mark 6. To finish preparing the filling, mix the chopped parsley, watercress and feta into the cooked vegetables. Lay the pile of filo pastry out on the work surface and select a 20 x 30cm baking dish. Using this as a guide, trim the pile of pastry, using a sharp knife, so it is 1cm larger than the top of the dish, allowing for shrinkage.

Paint the bottom of the dish with melted butter, then paint the top sheet of pastry, lay it in place, and repeat until you have about seven sheets layered - they will come a little of the way up the sides of the dish. Spoon the filling evenly over the pastry, and layer with another seven sheets of pastry, again painting each one with butter before laying it in place. Using a sharp knife, score the top sheet into six squares and bake the pie for 40 minutes. Serve straight away, while the pastry is crisp.

Taken from 'Gorgeous Greens' by Annie Bell (Vincent Square Books, £9.99).

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