Round and round

One is­sue, so much pie

The Guardian - Cook - - Front Page - Anna Jones Anna Jones is a chef, writer and au­thor of A Modern Way to Eat and A Modern Way to Cook (Fourth Es­tate); an­na­; @we_are_­food

Walks – brac­ing ones across beaches and dunes – filled this last week. Long stretches of sand lined with pine forests on one side and the tempt­ing sea on the other. With the car in sight, we sur­ren­dered our toes to the glassy wa­ter and splashed our way along the seashore, kick­ing droplets into the win­ter sun­shine with each step. Back at the car, our rolled-up trousers damp and our toes like ice, we thawed out with tea and a snap of dark choco­late. On the drive home I was fix­ated on pie, topped with deep com­fort­ing mash, which I fan­ta­sised about eat­ing with a spoon.

In less than an hour, we were spoon­ing cumin and mus­tard seed­spiced pie from our laps, a com­fort­ing cloud-like crust of mashed cau­li­flower on top of a rich lentil ragu, cooked un­til the lentils are al­most soft. Its warmth soon spread all the way to our feet.

Some­times, though, I crave more crunch and tex­ture from a pie, like the rosti-topped one over­leaf, with its but­tery grated cele­riac roof. The flavours warm you in a dif­fer­ent way, with the round sweet­ness of nut­meg, cus­tardy but­ter beans, toasted wal­nuts, the min­er­als of kale and a sharp punch of cider vinegar.

Cumin and mus­tard seed puy lentil pie

I use cau­li­flower for my mashed top­ping here as it works bril­liantly with the In­dian spices. You could just as eas­ily use potato. If you can’t get curry leaves, leave them out – there is lots of flavour in this pie.

Serves 4

Olive oil 2 tbsp mus­tard seeds A hand­ful (about 20) curry leaves, fresh if you can get them 2 car­rots, peeled and finely chopped 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped 1 tbsp cumin seeds, bashed 1 tbsp of co­rian­der seeds 2 gar­lic cloves, peeled and finely sliced 1 thumb-sized piece of gin­ger, peeled and finely chopped 1 x 400g tin of puy lentils, drained, or 250g home-cooked lentils 1 x 400g tin of toma­toes 1 tsp vegetable stock pow­der, or ½ a stock cube 2 dates (I use med­jool) 1 red chilli, de­seeded and chopped 1 lemon Flaky salt 2 medium cauliflow­ers (about 1kg, once leaves re­moved) 1 tbsp co­conut or olive oil

1 Get all your in­gre­di­ents to­gether. Fill and boil your ket­tle. Pre­heat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6 .

2 In a large, heavy pan, add a good glug of oil. Get it nice and hot, add the mus­tard seeds and curry leaves, then cook for a cou­ple of min­utes un­til the mus­tard seeds pop. Take the pan off the heat, re­serve half the seeds and leaves, then put the pan with the re­main­ing mix­ture back on the heat.

3 Add the car­rots and onions to the pan and cook for an­other 10-15 min­utes, or un­til soft, sweet and nicely browned. Add the cumin, co­rian­der, gar­lic and gin­ger, then cook for 3-4 min­utes to toast the spices and al­low the gar­lic and gin­ger to re­lease their oils. Take care that the gar­lic doesn’t burn.

4 Add the drained lentils, toma­toes, stock and half a tin of hot wa­ter from the ket­tle. Roughly chop the dates and add to the pan with the chopped chilli and the zest of half the lemon. Sea­son with salt and sim­mer on a medium heat for 25 min­utes, or un­til thick, rich and flavour­ful.

5 Mean­while, make the cau­li­flower mash. Break the cau­li­flower into flo­rets and slice the stalk (you can use this, too) and add the whole lot to a lid­ded pan with about 2cm of wa­ter in the bot­tom. Put on a high heat and steam un­til the cau­li­flower is ten­der – about 10 min­utes. Drain well, then put back on the heat for a minute to dry the cau­li­flower out. Al­low it to cool a lit­tle, then blitz in a food pro­ces­sor with the co­conut oil and a big pinch of salt. When you have a silky smooth mash, fold in the re­served mus­tard seeds and curry leaves.

6 When the lentils are ready, squeeze in the juice of the lemon and mix well. Spoon them into an oven­proof dish (about 20x25cm). Top with the cau­li­flower mash and bake for 20 min­utes, or un­til the tips of the mash are golden and the lentils are bub­bling.

Kale, wal­nut and ched­dar rosti pie

If you pre­fer, you could use parsnips in­stead of cele­riac here – they will roast in ex­actly the same time. If you are after a re­ally hearty meal, you could even serve this with some mashed potato.

Serves 4 For the fill­ing

A small swede (about 500g), peeled and cut into 1cm chunks Olive oil Salt and black pep­per 100g wal­nuts 1 red onion, peeled and finely sliced 2 gar­lic cloves, peeled and finely sliced 2 heaped tbsp flour (I used buck­wheat flour) 300ml vegetable stock 200g kale 1 tbsp cider vinegar 1 x 400g tin but­ter­beans 1 heaped tbsp whole­grain mus­tard 100g ched­dar, crum­bled into small pieces

For the rosti top­ping

1 large cele­riac, peeled ½ whole nut­meg A small bunch of thyme, leaves picked 2 tbsp but­ter or ghee 1 Pre­heat oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Spread the swede on a bak­ing tray, driz­zle with olive oil, sea­son with salt and black pep­per and roast for about 30 min­utes, or un­til golden-edged and ten­der.

2 Spread the wal­nuts on a tray and toast in the oven along­side the swede for 6 min­utes, or un­til golden. Roughly chop and set aside.

3 Heat a lit­tle olive oil in a large pan and add the red onion, cook­ing for about 10 min­utes, or un­til soft, then add the gar­lic and cook un­til it just be­gins to colour at the edges. Quickly add the flour and stir for a minute to cook out its raw­ness, then add the stock lit­tle by lit­tle, stir­ring after each ladle­ful so the sauce doesn’t be­come lumpy.

4 Strip the kale leaves from the stalks, slice the stalks re­ally finely and tear any big leaves in half. Add the kale to the pan with the vinegar, put the lid on and al­low the kale to wilt for a cou­ple of min­utes. Drain the but­ter beans and add them to the pan, us­ing a spoon to mash them a lit­tle. Take the pan off the heat and add the mus­tard, cheese, wal­nuts and roasted swede. Stir to com­bine, taste and sea­son with salt and pep­per, then pour into an oven­proof dish (about 20 x 25cm).

5 To make the top­ping, grate the cele­riac us­ing the coarse side of a box grater (you could also use a food pro­ces­sor to do this). Tip the cele­riac into a sieve, sprin­kle with salt and al­low to sit for a few min­utes to draw some mois­ture out. You can squeeze the cele­riac with your hands to speed the process up a bit. Trans­fer the cele­riac into a bowl, grate the nut­meg over. Add the thyme leaves. Give ev­ery­thing a quick mix with your hands, then scat­ter over the pie fill­ing. Dot with the but­ter or ghee and bake for 20 min­utes, or un­til the fill­ing is bub­bling and the top­ping golden.

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