Before moving to Italy a pie for me had either steak and kidney or chicken and mushrooms inside. I was never a fan of the British meat and potato pie, it just seemed odd to have a vegetable like the humble potato inside a pastry case and to be honest it felt like a reason to use less meat. But here in Italy they make pies filled with no meat at all and so far I’ve been lucky to have sampled some delicious ones. One of my favourites is artichoke pie (torta carciofo) and the best one I have ever tasted was made by Bruna and served during family lunch with friends in Lanciano.
Before moving from the UK I used to host what I called al fresco day, and I’d invite around thirty friends over and cook for them. During one of these days I did once make Antonio Carluccio’s torta verde (green pie) but my English friends eyed it with suspicion before turning their collective backs upon it. Sad really as it tasted fabulous.
So yesterday I was rifling through the freezer and grabbed some veg and shop bought pastry and the result was my take on a green pie.
The ingredients were:
600g of frozen spinach
200g of blanched cime di rapa
2 broccoli florets that were rattling around at the bottom of the freezer drawer.
a handful of breadcrumbs
100g grated Italian cheese*
salt and pepper
Sorry that I can’t be precise on ingredients, but I just go by sight.
Cook the greens in a pan of boiling water, then rinse with cold water to retain the colour. Once cold squeeze the living daylights out of it to get rid of all the water. Add to a bowl with cheese, breadcrumbs and 2 eggs, season with salt and pepper and stir the mix together.
Next take a pack of pre-prepared shop bought pastry (100g) unroll it and line a baking dish that’s been lightly oiled. Don’t worry too much about neatness, as it’s all about taste not presentation. It’s a pie, It doesn’t have to look pretty.
Once lined add the mix and pat down so there’s no pockets of air.
Fold over the edges of the pastry, try to cover as much of the pie as you can, but don’t worry too much if there’s a few gaps, a rustic tart can be just as nice as prissy pie. Give it an egg wash then put it into your oven for about 25 minutes until the top is golden brown. I have a temperamental oven so the actual temperature is a mystery to me.
Once cooked turn it out and let it cool. I know it’s tempting to dive right in but best not as hot pie can play havoc with the soft tissue of your mouth’s interior.
Once cool, slice and eat at your leisure. It doesn’t last very long in this house to be honest as slices seem to disappear at an alarming rate.
Don’t be tempted to us a good quality parmesan cheese, it’s all about tasting the veggies so a shop bought generic Italian cheese mix will suffice. Other fillings that work really well like artichokes are, asparagus and broccoli, spinach and pine nuts and a mix of cime di rapa, cicoria and radichio which makes a lovely bitter tasting tart best served cold with antipasti.