Our talented baking expert, Great British Bake Off star Val Stones, is a big fan of home comforts. There’s no better heart (and stomach) warming meal quite like Val’s Homity Pie – a traditional vegetable dish celebrating May’s in-season produce, spinach!
Val’s thoughts and tips:
I enjoy growing spinach and leeks. It’s amazing to watch them come through the potting compost as tiny threads of green, then seeing them grow into tall green plants. They’re rich in healthy vitamins and minerals, plus very versatile in meals, but my favourite use of them is in this traditional vegetarian pie. You may be familiar with its alternative name, ‘Devon Pie’, as some believe this delicious dish originated in the South West of England.
Serving suggestions and timings:
- Serves: 8-10
- Preparation time: 40 minutes
- Baking time: 30 minutes
For the pastry
- 250g plain flour
- 125g butter, cubed
- ¼ tsp fine sea salt
- 1 medium egg, lightly beaten
- 40-50ml chilled water
For the filling
- 3 handfuls fresh spinach
- 25g unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 onions, finely sliced
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 2 leeks, finely sliced
- 1 tbsp thyme, finely chopped
- 800g potatoes (ideally Maris Pipers or King Edwards), quartered and cut into thick slices
- 160ml double cream
- 150g mature cheddar cheese
- ¼ tsp smoked paprika
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 190°C fan, 230°C, gas mark 7-8
- To make the pastry, place the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the cubed butter and lightly rub this into the mixture until it resembles breadcrumbs
- Make a well in the middle of the mixture, pour in the egg and 40ml water (enough to bind the pastry into a firm dough). Turn onto a lightly floured surface and lightly knead for 20 turns to make smooth. Then, flatten the pastry to the size of a saucer, wrap in film and chill for 20 minutes. Whilst the pastry is chilling, prepare the filling (skip to step 5)
- Remove the pastry from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature for about five minutes. Lightly flour a work surface and roll out the pastry into a circle the thickness of a pound coin (roll out the pastry so it is the diameter of your tin, plus the height of the sides). Fold the circle of pastry in half and then quarters. Place the folded pastry into the flan tin and open out carefully, pressing gently into the tin. Place the rolling pin on the edge of the flan tin and roll across the top to trim away the spare pastry. With a fork, mark the base evenly as this will help the base to remain flat, then chill in the fridge for another 20 minutes
- Place a baking sheet in the oven to heat up whilst you make the filling. Bring a shallow pan with a cupful of water and the lemon juice to the boil, then turn off the heat. Add the spinach, allow it to wilt for 2 minutes, before draining and setting aside
- To make the filling, place the oil and butter in a saucepan then add the finely chopped onions, leeks, garlic and thyme. Gently heat and stir the mixture until the onions are translucent (10-15 minutes). Season with salt, pepper and paprika, add the potatoes, then cover and allow to cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The potatoes should break down easily if pressed by a wooden spoon. Turn off the heat and gently stir in the double cream. Allow to cool a little
- Scatter roughly 50g cheese and the wilted spinach over the base of the pastry. Stir 50g of the cheese into the potato mixture and pour the mixture into the flan tin
- Scatter the remaining cheese over the top of the mixture. Place the flan on the pre-heated baking sheet and bake on the middle shelf for 15 minutes on 190°C, then turn down to 160°C until golden on the top. The cheese mixture should be bubbling and golden
- Leave for 10 minutes before removing from the flan tin and place on a cooling rack. The pie can be served straight away or allow to cool. When cool, the pie can be stored for up to 5 days in the fridge or frozen for up to 3 months
Val has collaborated with our gardening guru Mark Lane on a Plant to Plate Calendar so you can try your hand at seasonal delights throughout the year, ranging from beetroot brownies to bubble and squeak!
Keep sowing and serving; keep on being you.
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