This recipe for aubergine pie with mushroom and smoked halloumi utilising three things I am currently very excited about – whole wheat filo pastry, vegetable-packed pies and smoked halloumi. All in one recipe!
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you may have already got the message about whole wheat filo pastry. It is my new favourite pastry, one which is fantastic for wrapping hearty, savoury fillings in light, whole grain goodness.
You may also have seen my recent post for a vegetable-packed, courgette and spinach pie. No mere sprinkly garnish of vegetables here. Instead, at least two full portions of vegetables in every slice – great for a quick, healthy breakfast on the go, an enviable packed lunch or a summer dinner with a nice side dish. All this while being extremely appetising and very moreish – pie is very, very eatable, even when the layer of pastry is wafer-thin.
Today’s dish is another interpretation of that recipe, to show you the variety of interesting vegetables preparations and combinations that can be crammed into one, delicious, nutritious, life-affirming aubergine pie.
The aubergines and the mushrooms are long-cooked until well browned – the colour you sear onto the vegetables adding new, complex layers of flavour. This concept has been one of the things that has revolutionised my vegetarian cooking. The benefits of browning on meat is often discussed, but the advantage of cooking vegetables in a similar fashion, individually, until they have each reached their flavour potential, is less popular. Probably because it takes longer – and because creative, delicious, vegetarian cookery is MUCH less sexy.
In this vein, each of the components of this aubergine pie recipe is prepared separately, until it is as delicious as it can possibly be, before being combined into one glorious, unified whole.
To make the time pass more quickly while I’m bulk sautéing, as is called for in this recipe (and many more of my recipes), I like to have something else to do – fiddling with my blog, writing e-mails, chopping other veg, etc. etc. This kind of sautéing takes a good while, doesn’t need constant attention and isn’t very exciting to look at. No need to stand over that… Multi-task! The flavour is worth it.
These cooked (yummy) vegetables are finally seasoned with lemon juice and zest, chipotle chilli, garlic, spring onions and the wonderful smoked halloumi – prepared with my own fair hands using my cold-smoker – see (how to smoke halloumi cheese).
Lightly sweet, lemony, smoky, spicy and umami. Meaty, whole grain and packed with veggies…
- 3 medium aubergines
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- 250g chestnut mushrooms
- 5 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 bunch spring onions, sliced
- 1 lemon, zest and juice
- 2 chipotle chillies, chopped fine
- 2 teaspoon cumin seeds, roasted and roughly ground
- 1 egg
- 200g smoked halloumi (or just halloumi!)
- 2 handfuls walnuts, chopped
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 recipe whole grain filo pastry dough
- 50g butter
- 2 heaped tablespoons Greek yoghurt
- 1 egg
- Dice and salt the aubergines, leaving them to drain in a colander for at least 30 minutes. Heat a large pan (I used a cast iron skillet), over medium high heat until hot. Cook the aubergine in three batches (use 1 tablespoon of oil per batch), stirring often, until the vegetables are dark and caramelised, but not burnt. Season and add to a food processor (or bowl if you don't have one).
- Chop the mushrooms as desired and add to the hot pan. Dry sauté in batches until well browned, then add to the aubergines.
- Add all the other ingredients, except the halloumi and walnuts. Pulse in the blender, or mix with a wooden spoon if using a bowl. The processor will make the mixture more homogenous, which I personally prefer, but if you like things chunky you can omit this.
- Add the cheese and nuts, season again if necessary and give it all a final mix with a spoon - do not blend.
- Preheat the oven to 200c. Roll out and arrange the bottom layers of pastry, using the butter between the layers - get full directions here. Add the filling. Roll out and arrange the top layers of pastry.
- Beat together the egg and Greek yoghurt and brush half of it over the top layer of pastry. Bake the pie for about 30 minutes, then take it out of the oven, brush with the rest of the glaze and return to the oven for a further 30 minutes. If the pie looks like it is browning unevenly, turn the pie when you add the second layer of glaze.
- When the pie is well browned all over, remove from the oven. Can be eaten hot, warm, lukewarm or cold. As with the other pie I posted a few weeks ago, I have said it serves 8 because it slices into that amount of reasonably sized slices, but two slices with some kind of side dish would be a perfectly satisfying meal.