Here's an early summer pie to celebrate all things green.
We have the occasional early summer flourish of stinging nettles, and find comfort knowing that eating nettles is our way of cleaning up the paddocks. But don't worry if you don't have them, because any decent green - such as silverbeet (swiss chard) - or a mixture can work well. I've used home-made filo but you can use ready made pastry too.
- 6-8 handfuls fresh nettle leaves, stalks removed and well washed.
- 1 leek, green part only, washed and finely sliced
- 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 4 tablespoons coursely chopped dill
- 100g good-quality feta cheese, crumbled
- 200g fresh ricotta cheese
- 4 eggs
- lemon wedges, for serving
- Filo Pastry -
- 250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 110ml warm water
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- about 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
Throw the nettles into a big pot with the lid on and wilt them over a low heat; the water left after washing will help them steam. Let them cool, then squeeze vigorously to remove all the liquid. To make the filo pastry, mix all the ingredients except the oil together to make a dough. Knead for about 4-5 minutes to a smooth texture. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour before rolling. Using a generous amount of flour and a big rolling pin, roll out the dough to a 40 x 80cm rectangle. Cut into 8 equal squares (don’t worry if they’re not perfectly shaped), brush oil liberally on each, stack them on top of each other (ensuring the top isn’t oiled, but rather floured), and roll this out to make an evenly thick piece of pastry 40cm square.
Fry the leek well in 1 tablespoon of olive oil until soft, but not brown, and put it in a medium bowl with the nettles and the dill. Add the feta, ricotta, a generous pinch of salt and a good few grinds of black pepper. Mix well, then stir in the eggs.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Make the pie by laying the pastry into a greased 30cm pie dish lined with baking paper, or you could do it more free-form by using a baking tray. Place the filling in the middle and spread it out a little so there’s enough pastry to bring up over the top to form a pie. Brush the top generously with more olive oil. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Cool in the dish. Serve at room temperature with lemon wedges.