This lightly spiced Moroccan pie but it can easily be made spicier by adding something like mango chutney or a hotter sauce. Pulses can be bland & usually need more additional flavourings than you think. It’s a good dish to make for those that don’t like meat and you can freeze it ahead of time. Handling the filo can be tricky but don’t worry if it all goes pear-shaped you can just use it scrunched up as long as you try to brush the butter between the layers.
I like to serve it as part of a vaguely inspired ‘Moroccan’ meal with grated carrot & cumin salad, cooked beetroot in yoghurt, flatbreads (sweet with honey & fennel seeds or savoury with seas salt & rosemary) etc. Lovely, easily prepared food to share.
About 12 sheets of filo from chiller cabinet or frozen
140g green lentils e.g. Puy
1 bag fresh spinach leaves
2 large onions, peeled and chopped small
6/8 cardamom pods, remove seeds, crush using a mortar & pestle
1 ½ tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 large egg, beaten
4 tbsp. freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp. pine nuts
1 tbsp. lemon juice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
150g feta cheese, drained
- First cook the lentils in plenty of water. Bring to the boil for a few minutes, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Don’t overcook them; they should have a little bite. Leave to cool
- Cook the spinach briefly with a little water in a large pan or wok and then squeeze out as much juice as possible. Snip up with scissors and leave to cool.
- To prepare the filling: Heat up some olive oil and fry the onion until golden. Don’t under fry onions, never under fry onions, they can add a rich taste & colour to any dish! Add the cardamom seeds, ground coriander and cumin and cook for a few minutes. Leave to cool.
- Add the beaten egg.
- Add the freshly grated parmesan cheese, pine nuts and lemon juice the lemon juice.
- Add the chopped, cooked spinach. Stir and then add the cooked lentils. Stir gently-try not to break them up too much.
- Season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust. Crumble the Feta cheese over the top.
- To make the pie: If you are using frozen filo make sure that it is well defrosted or it will tear as you use it. Brush your baking tin or dish (approx. 25cm x 20cm) with butter using a pastry brush. Cut the pile of sheets in two-you will only need one half of the pack. Keeps sheets covered until you are ready to use them so that they don’t dry out. Lay one sheet on the bottom, (roughly the same size as the dish) and brush with the melted butter. Add another 2/3 layers, brushing with butter as you go. Spread out the filling and then cover with 3 or 4 layers of filo brushing each layer with butter as you go. Don’t worry if it looks messy just scrunch up the excess and brush with more butter & push the ‘overhang’ down the sides. Place a flat piece over the top to make it flat. Brush with butter and then with the sharp tip of a knife cut a diamond pattern across it.
- Cook in a moderate oven 180 for about 30 mins to crisp up the filo. It’s best served warm rather than hot.
- If you are planning on freezing the dish do so before cooking.