I adore Italian food for obvious reasons but one of the things that Italians don’t make enough of is a good pie! Pies are something of a staple food in the UK and come in very many different forms – large and small, savoury and sweet – with a huge variety of fillings. Whilst pies can be eaten all year round they really come into their own during the winter when they are generally served with roast vegetables or chips. When I spotted some ready made flaky pastry at my local supermarket I decided to make this vegetarian version of a British chicken and leek pie but you can also use my simple homemade shortcrust pastry if you prefer. Check out my cabbage and mushroom pasties for the recipe.
A pack of ready made flaky pastry (approx 350g)
A bunch of baby leeks or 3 large leeks
2 medium potatoes
A red onion
A chunk of strong cheese (approx 90g)
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 litre milk
1 teaspoon of mustard
A beaten egg (optional)
Start by preparing the vegetables. Wash and slice the leeks, roughly chop the mushrooms and finely chop the onion. Dice the potatoes and pop them in a pan of water with a pinch of salt.
The potatoes will need to boil for around 6-7 minutes or until they start to soften. While they are cooking, melt the butter in a pan and sauté the leeks and onions for 5 minutes before adding the mushrooms and cooking for a further 3-4 minutes. Drain the potatoes and add them to the pan.
Add the flour, mix well and cook for 2-3 minutes stirring constantly. Gradually add the milk and stir until you have a thick sauce. Grate the cheese and add to the sauce with the mustard. Once all the ingredients have been combined remove from the pan from the heat and leave the filling to cool.
Roll out two thirds of the pastry and use it to line a well greased baking dish, cutting off any excess pastry with a sharp knife. Once the filling has cooled you can add it to the dish. Roll out the remaining pastry, and place on top sealing the edges with a little cold water. I used some of the left over pastry to decorate my pie, brushing the top with a little beaten egg to give the pie a golden finish.
Bake in a hot oven (approx 200 degrees) for around 40 minutes or until the pastry has risen and is a lovely golden brown colour. Whilst the pie was cooking I roasted some chopped root vegetables (beetroot, carrots, sweet potato) with garlic and fresh herbs from the garden and cooked up some broccoli and peas for a bit of much needed greenery. Delicious comfort food for a cold and dark evening!