“Restaurant quality” is how my husband defined the lovely taste of this dish. High praise indeed! This recipe is perfect for impressing dinner party guests, and with very little cost and effort involved – but don’t tell your guests that!
My dear cousin first brought this recipe to my attention so I was keen to have a go. She told me that her daughter had enjoyed it so much that she nearly ate the whole lot!
This is a recipe that Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (of River Cottage fame), found in an old copy of ‘Mediterranean Vegetable Cookery’* by Rena Salaman. It’s such a clever dish, in that the rice soaks all the water content from the courgettes, and plumps up as they cook together inside the pie.
Prep time: 15 minutes. Cooking time: 45 minutes
500g courgettes, coarsely grated
75g long-grain white rice
½ medium red onion, finely chopped
75g hard goat’s cheese or mature Cheddar, grated
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbsp olive oil
A handful of dill, chopped
A good handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
250g ready-made filo pastry
75g unsalted butter, melted
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 190°C / Gas Mark 5. Mix the courgettes, rice, onion, cheese, eggs, olive oil and chopped herbs together in a large bowl.
2. Take a sheet of filo pastry, brush with a little melted butter and use it to line a smallish ovenproof dish, about 1.5 litre capacity (I used a lasagne dish), placing the pastry butter side down. Let any excess hang over at the ends. Add another buttered sheet on top and continue until you’ve used all but one or two sheets of the pastry.
3. Tip the filling into the pastry-lined dish. Fold over the pastry ends to enclose the filling, dabbing with a little more melted butter to keep the pastry together. Take the remaining pastry sheets, crumple it lightly in your hands to give a nicely textured finish and place on top of the pie, tucking in the edges around the sides.
4. Dab a little more butter over the surface and bake for 45 minutes until golden. Serve hot or warm.
I served mine with a crisp green salad as shown.
I hope you’ll give this recipe a go and don’t forget to let me know how you get on. I’d love to hear from you!
* As luck would have it, I managed to get hold of a copy of ‘Mediterranean Vegetable Cookery’ by Rena Salaman (first published 1987), and found the original recipe that Hugh was inspired to create. The recipe was first given to Rena by a friend who came from the Ionian island of Corfu. Rena recommends this dish can be served as a first course or as a main meal, accompanied (as I suggest above) by a substantial crisp green salad. What can I say? Great minds think alike! 😉