It is more “Scottish monsoon” than “flaming June” around here so you will forgive me, I hope, for ignoring salads and plumping for pie. A summer-into-fall (!) luscious chard, portabello mushroom and broccoli pie, studded with nuggets of feta, buttery pine nuts and magical za’atar. Covered, of course, with a few hand-crumpled layers of paper-thin phyllo pastry. Pie for savoring.
Am I making you hungry yet?
This savory pie is based on one I have been making for over 25 years for family, friends and work. After an absence on the menu for a few months, I made it this week for one of my cancer nutrition classes, and a very kind woman remarked that it was the best pie she had ever tasted.
I’ll take that.
Usually, we have it filled with shaved broccoli and fresh, wilted spinach – and indeed this is how I made it for the group – but my garden chard is racing away from me and so I chopped it back, and chopped it up, for a family pie. I also had a random tray of plump portobello mushrooms as well as a fat head of broccoli, so they got roped in for extra taste, nutrition and all-important texture. This on-the-hoof combination was demolished in a flash. No leftovers. No regrets.
An all-chard pie is a fine thing, as minerally as a flint-dry Riesling (my favourite style of wine). But it can be a bit intense, and most would welcome the sweetness of broccoli and the depth of mushroom. Add in the subtle complexity – and yes, magic – of za’atar and you have a pie deserving of double helpings.
Am I making you hungry yet?
***Also, maybe you saw my post about this last month (and my nomination badge in my sidebar), but I’ve been nominated for a Good Housekeeping award for best food blog. If you like what I do here, I would REALLY appreciate your vote. Voting ends soon. Here’s the link. THANK YOU!! ***
Middle Eastern Rainbow Chard Pie
A summer-into-fall chard, portabello mushroom and broccoli pie, studded with nuggets of feta, buttery pine nuts and magical za’atar. Covered, of course, with a few hand-crumpled layers of paper-thin phyllo pastry. Easily vegan and gluten-free. The pie tastes best just warm. If you have leftovers tuck into them without reheating for the best eating experience. Serve with my Brazilian Sweet Potato and Peppers Salad. xxx
***Vegan option at the end of the recipe***
300g (about 15 large leaves) of rainbow or Swiss chard, thinly sliced including stems if tender
1 head of broccoli, florets shaved off and stems cut into small pieces (stems are the best bit!)
Palmful of pine nuts
250g (about half a pound) portobello mushrooms or other flavourful firm mushrooms, halved and sliced
2 tbsp olive oil, divided use
1 medium onion, diced
4 large organic eggs, beaten
1 x 225 g/8 oz pack ewe’s milk feta cheese, crumbled
1 tbsp za’atar (see below for my recipe, or use bought)
4-5 sheets from a 270g/9.5 oz pack phyllo pastry (thawed if frozen) – if gluten-free, use one sheet (not block) of g-f puff pastry
1 tsp butter or olive oil
Bakeware needed: 1 large round ceramic/glass dish OR large cast iron skillet (what I used – mine is 13″ diameter) OR a deep-sided 10″ x 10″ pan, well-oiled
Preheat the oven to 200C/180Cfan/400F.
1. Rinse the chard and wilt it down in a large lidded pan or in a steamer. I just leave it on a low heat for five minutes, stir, and leave for another two minutes. Drain in a colander, pressing out as much water as you can; put in a large mixing bowl.
2. Place the broccoli shavings/pieces in a steamer or sieve and steam for four minutes. Pop in with the chard.
3. Put the pine nuts in a saute pan and dry toast them until starting to become golden and fragrant. You have to watch them like a hawk as once they heat up they burn very quickly – sometimes you can buy pre-toasted pine nuts. Pop these into the bowl with the chard.
4. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in the saute pan and gently saute the onion until soft and lightly golden; add onion to the bowl. Pour in the remainder of oil and saute the mushrooms until they lose their moisture; add to the bowl along with the beaten egg, feta cheese and za’atar. Stir well. Pour this mixture into your baking dish/pan.
5. Melt the butter. Take one sheet of phyllo pastry and place on the filling, scrunching it up as required to fit. Add another piece and brush with half of the butter. Add another layer, then another, buttering this final layer. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Place in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, checking at 25 minutes. The top should be golden and the filling moist but firm. Allow to cool until just warm before cutting and serving.
How To Make Za’atar à la Food To Glow: 2 tbsp dried thyme, 2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds, 1 tbsp ground sumac, 1 tbsp each dried oregano and marjoram, 1 tsp sea salt. Whiz briefly in a spice grinder or clean coffee mill. Store in a jar away from moisture and light.
Serving suggestions: we like it with my Brazilian Sweet Potato Salad (shown), or roasted mini peppers, these Olive and Rosemary Potatoes, or my Moroccan Carrot Salad. The pie tastes great cold as leftovers (I don’t think it tastes great reheated).
Vegan option: use chia “eggs” instead of hen’s eggs; use 1 x 200g pack of organic tofu, 2 tbsp nutritional yeast, 2 tsp lemon juice and 1 tsp fine lemon zest in place of the cheese OR use cashew “ricotta”.
RIPE FOR PINNING!