STARTER, VEGGIE

SQUASH, GORGONZOLA AND ROCKET SPANAKOPITA

Spanakopita, the classic Greek pie made with feta and spinach, is undoubtedly hard to compete with. My version here is totally off-piste in terms of flavour, but it is made, somewhat reassuringly, in the same way. And – dare I say it – I think this updated version gives the original a run for its money. 

HELEN CATHCART

Ingredients - serves 6

  • 750g butternut squash (about 1 small)
  • 550g baby leaf rocket
  • 180g gorgonzola cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 sheets filo pastry 

The Essentials 

  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt flakes 
  • Coarse black pepper 
  • 75g unsalted butter

Method

Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas mark 6. Lightly grease a 20cm sandwich tin.

Peel the butternut squash and chop into 2cm chunks, throwing away the seeds and pulp. Put the chunks into a baking tray and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, a generous pinch of salt and pepper and toss to coat well. Roast for 45 minutes until softened, then tip into a heatproof mixing bowl to cool.

While the squash roasts, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil over a high heat in a large saucepan. Add the rocket – you may need to do this in batches – and stir-fry until completely wilted down. Allow to cool until cold enough to handle, then put into a clean tea towel and squeeze out every last drop of moisture. Add to the roasted squash pieces and mix together. Pull the cheese into small chunks and add to the bowl along with the eggs and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix until everything is well incorporated.

In a saucepan, heat the butter over a high heat until melted – don’t let it brown. Unroll the sheets of filo pastry. Paint one sheet with a little melted butter and lay that, buttered-side-up, into the cake tin, allowing the surplus to overlap the sides of the tin. Repeat with the remaining sheets, laying each at a different angle to the next so that the entire tin is covered. Pile the filling into the tin, squashing it down lightly, then fold the surplus pastry up and over it to conceal it entirely. Bake for 30 minutes, until the top is lightly golden and crispy.

This is great served warm or cold, but I would recommend you let it cool for 15 minutes or so after baking. That way, the eggs set, the  flavours mingle and everything is improved. You can cut it into small diamond shapes to serve, but I prefer a hearty triangular wedge. 

Recipe taken from John's book, Perfect Plates in 5 Ingredients. Buy here.