Rice, Leek & Spinach Pie (Not-quite-Nigella)

Amazing! This is such a wonderfully delicious vegetarian dish. With the sweetness of soft cooked leeks, fragrant spiced rice, two types of cheese & the goodness of spinach – a complete meal.

Serves: 6-8

1 cup/200g/7ozs. white rice – cooked in
1.5 cups/375ml/12.7flozs. vegetable stock for 15 mins absorption method.

30g/1oz butter
1-2 tablespoons oil
3 leeks (around 250g/8.8ozs), white part only & sliced finely (see note below)
6 cloves garlic, peeled & diced
500g frozen spinach, thawed
1/2 cup currants or sultanas
2 tsp chilli flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Sprig of thyme
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups/240g/8ozs shredded tasty or cheddar cheese
1/2 cup/45g/1.6ozs. parmesan cheese
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
Salt & pepper for seasoning

For pastry:
2.5 cups/375g/ 13ozs. plain all purpose flour
1.5 teaspoons instant dried yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup/250ml /8.8flozs milk
1/3 cup/75g/2.65ozs natural yogurt or sour cream
5 egg
2 Tabs oil
1 tsp salt
2 Tabs melted butter to brush on afterwards
1 tsp nigella seeds

Step 1 – When rice/broth is cooked through, add butter & oil to a large saucepan on medium heat & melt the butter. Add the leeks, cook until soft. Add garlic – cook 2-3 mins. Add the spinach, cooked rice, currants, chilli flakes, cumin, nutmeg and thyme and cook for 5 minutes or so until fragrant and tasty. * (You can do this part ahead of time and keep it in the fridge for 1-2 days. On the day you want to use it, mix the rice mixture with the beaten eggs, two cheeses and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper).

Step 2 – For the pastry dough mix the flour, yeast and sugar in the bowl of a mixer. In a jug measure the milk, yogurt or sour cream, egg, oil and salt. Pour this into the flour mixture and mix together with a spatula until starting to come together. Then add a kneading attachment to your mixer and knead the dough until elastic (around 5-6 minutes on the lowest speed). Shape into a ball and place in a greased bowl and allow to rise until double in size. **(I actually prefer letting this rise, covered, in the fridge overnight where it can prove for up to 3 days as long as it is completely covered).

Step 3 – When it is time to bake the pie, line the base & sides of a 20cm/8inch springform tin. Take dough from fridge, allow it to rest on the counter for 20 minutes. Cut dough into two: one 2/3 of the total weight, the other 1/3. With the larger portion, roll it out onto a lightly floured surface – to  fit the tin and the sides, so roll it out quite large & thin. Transfer dough to the lined tin and gently coax it against the sides of the tin – allow to rest for 5 mins. In the meantime roll out the 1/3 portion of dough to fit the top of the pie.

Step 4 – Preheat oven to 180C. Fill pie with the rice mixture then top with round of dough & crimp the edges, trimming dough with scissors (I use the leftover dough to make pizza-cook’s treat!).
Cut a hole in the centre of the pie for steam to escape – bake for 45 minutes.

If browning too much at 30 mins, cover with a sheet of foil. You want it to cook the whole time so that the dough cooks on the base and sides. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with nigella seeds after. Serve with your favourite marinara or tomato based sauce (needs no salad).

NOTES

Don’t want to make it a pie? This makes a WONDERFUL pilaf!! Just make the rice itself and serve it with fish or chicken!

Use bought pastry! Filo pastry works really well with this pie. Use 8 sheets of buttered filo pastry for the base and 6-8 layers of filo pastry for the top!

What can I use instead of leeks? If leeks aren’t in season try the same weight in golden eschallots or the white parts of spring onions.

GF Rosemary Hazelnut Shortbread Cookies

This is a savory gluten free shortbread. Be patient as you work with the rather crumbly dough and allow extra time for chilling it in the freezer.   Makes 24 Cookies

Ingredients

2.5 cups blanched almond flour
0.5 teaspoon sea salt
0.5 teaspoon bicarb
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted & coarsely chopped
1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
0.5 cup grape seed oil
5 Tablespoons agave nectar or honey
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C FF. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl combine the almond flour, salt, bicarb, hazelnuts & rosemary.
In a medium bowl whisk together the oil, agave nectar and vanilla extract.
Stir the wet ingredients into the almond flour mixture until thoroughly combined.

Roll the dough into a large log, 2.5 inches in diameter, then wrap in parchment paper
(Note: I find two smaller logs are easier to manage.) Place in the freezer for 1 hour, or until firm.

Remove the log from the freezer, unwrap it, and cut it into 1/4 inch thick slices with a wet knife. Transfer the slices onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between each cookie.

Bake for 7-10 minutes, until brown around the edges. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 30 minutes. Serve.