Jamie Oliver’s Feta and Spinach Pie

Feta & Spinach Pie

It’s been some pretty horrid weather in Adelaide recently – cold (especially when you don’t have central heating) and wet (yep – the washing’s been hanging on the line for about a week) so what was in order for Sunday night supper was something quick and HOT.

There was another constraint: the huge pile of feta cheese in our fridge that had been bought to make a Greek salad to take to a BBQ that we subsequently couldn’t attend.

Salad out of the question, the natural mate of feta is spinach and I remembered seeing Jamie Oliver do a feta and spinach pie as part of his 30 Minute Meals.

My approach took quite a significant departure from his – mainly because we had less spinach and I suspect a considerably larger pan. As a side note, never ever buy Woolworths Own Brand frozen spinach: not only is it from China but our packet was mostly stalk. It really irritates me that I’m yet to locate an Australian grown frozen spinach. If you know of one, let me know!

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

In a pan, toast off a generous handful of pinenuts – pay attention to them and don’t let them burn!

In a bowl, whisk 4 eggs before adding about 200g of crumbled (or finely diced) feta. If you buy your feta from the supermarket you will most likely find that the deli counter sells a selection and you can buy Australian feta much much more cheaply than you’ll buy anything that’s prepackaged. At our supermarket, the deli product is also much better than the packaged stuff, so it’s a win all round.

Add the pine nuts, a pinch of oregano, a pinch of cayenne pepper, a grating of nutmeg, black pepper to taste and a glug of olive oil (if you want to measure, probably about 1tbsp). Finish by adding the zest of about half a lemon. Don’t miss the lemon zest!

Cook the spinach off in a pan. If you’re using frozen spinach (I used a 250g pack) you want to cook the water out, and if you’re using fresh, you want to wilt it so it’s soft. Allow the spinach to cool a little and then stir into the egg mix.

The bit I really like about this recipe is Jamie’s approach to the filo pastry. You know how working with filo can be a real bore … keep it covered with a damp towel, melt butter and brush the sheets and generally spend all afternoon faffing about. None of that with Jamie (well, we’d hardly expect that, would we?).

Take a large sheet of baking paper, sprinkle it with olive oil and then rub the oil all over it. Layer the baking paper with your filo pastry, rubbing olive oil between the layers (do this with your hands – it is so much quicker than trying to use a brush). Now, overall you want at least three layers of pastry but you’re likely to have to overlap sheets to cover the whole of the paper. Try to keep the overlapping to a sensible minimum though – you don’t want 6 (or even 9) sheets of pastry in some parts and only three in others.

When the baking paper is covered, pick the whole lot up and put it in a large, high sided frying pan. There should be a generous overhang. Pour the egg mixture in to the pastry case and fold the overhanging pastry away from the paper and across the top of your pie. You don’t need to fold it neatly – allow it to finish with bits of pastry sticking up: that looks kind of cool.

Now, cook the pie for a few minutes on the stove so that the bottom starts to cook and crisp up. Literally, we are talking about a few minutes here … don’t do what I did, which was wander off and start doing other things, because the pastry can (and will!) start to burn quite easily. Then put the pan in the oven to finish cooking – it will take about 20 minutes and the pastry should turn golden.

Because the pie is cooked on baking paper, it will be easy to slide off on to a plate. However, if, like me, you need to do some surgery on the base, it’s just as easy to flip the pie over. Fortunately, the layers of filo pastry and a palette knife meant I could remove the burnt bits easily, leaving us with a very tasty dinner. Had the base been shortcrust there’s no way I could have rescued our dinner!

Andy rightly pointed out that this would be brilliant made in smaller pans for an entrée and I think you could definitely do something canapé sized using something like a minced pie tin.

The most important thing though is not to skip on the lemon zest – this noticeably lifts the flavour of the whole dish. With all the cheese and egg having a little something cut through that richness is just perfect.

Steak and Ale Pie


One of the things I miss about England is the monthly magazine that almost every supermarket produces. Mostly, these magazines are free (although the ones you pay for are usually well worth it – quite a few Waitrose Food Illustrateds and Sainsbury magazines are still in my collection): they consist of a lot of advertising in various guises but almost always have a good selection of recipes.

This recipe for steak and ale pie is based on one that originally appeared in such a magazine, produced by the now defunct supermarket, Safeway. It’s really easy (so don’t be frightened if you’ve never made a pie before!) but very tasty – make extra and any that doesn’t fit in pie dishes works just as well with some mash as a stew.

The only thing you can’t do here is rush. You want to simmer the mixture for at least an hour and a half so you may prefer to make the filling one day and construct the pie the next …

This take on things produces enough filling to make two (generous) one person pies as well as a more normal sized two person pie.

Start with 750g of diced beef (I used blade), toss it in seasoned flour and brown, in batches, in olive oil over a moderate to high heat. Set the beef to one side, reduce the heat and then add two onions cut into wedges, two peeled, sliced carrots and some whole, but peeled, garlic cloves. I say ‘some’ because you know how much garlic you do or don’t like. Because it’s braised along with the beef it’s not a super strong flavour.

Allow this mix to soften for a few minutes, before adding 375mL of real ale (I used Black Sheep, bought at vast expense from a local bottle shop – but you do need to use a good quality beer with plenty of flavour), 200mL water and 2 tbsp of tomato paste. Bring this to the boil, then add some thyme and bayleaves before covering and simmering for at least 1 &func12; hours. After this time, when the meat is tender, you may wish to increase the heat and remove the lid to thicken up the sauce.

And that, with just a handful of ingredients and hardly any effort, is your pie filling.

Allow the filling to cool and, if necessary, reserve some of the gravy. If you like lots of pastry (and yes, we do!), grease your pie dish(es) and line with shortcrust pastry. Brush the edges of the pastry with egg, add the filling and top with puff pastry, sealing the edges well. Finish by ensuring there’s an air vent (if you have a pie funnel, even better) and glaze with beaten egg.

Bake at 200°C (non-fan) for a good 45 mins (longer if you’ve made one massive pie), until the pie is golden and you can’t wait any longer.

You may wish to serve with vegetables or salad on the side or you may wish to just scoff the rich, warm, pastry goodness!