Save time and energy with this quick cooking pie, and make best use of the oven by roasting butternut squash at the same time all ready for your next meal.
It’s British Pie week this week, which is a great excuse for your favourite filling and lightest crust. The nation’s pie favourites are, according to British Gas, steak, vegetable, chicken, pork, and apple, and they’ve teamed up with Great British Bake Off champion John Whaite to show a pie with all the flavours: perfect for the indecisive.
There’s something that’s very nostalgic about baking a pie; it’s the antithesis of high speed, modern life. But by applying some old fashioned home economic skills, you can not only come up with something very tasty, but also save money in the process. I like to make sure that it’s worth switching the oven on by roasting some more butternut squash at the same time as the pie is baking. I then freeze the cooked squash, ready for the next pie, soup, or however we want to use it. If the oven is on it makes sense to cook more than one thing in it.
My pie isn’t as complicated as John’s, but it’s no less tasty for that. it’s a quick and easy vegetarian chickpea, feta and butternut squash pie with a filo pastry topping, and uses three of my favourite cheat-prep-ahead ingredients. A tub of roasted butternut squash from the freezer, a few sheets of ready made filo pastry and a can of chickpeas. You can prep the filling in advance and this pie can be on the table within 20 minutes once the oven is heated up. Of course it is endlessly adaptable; simply vary the vegetables you use in the filling, add leftovers, use beans, or leftover rice in place of the chickpeas. For a vegan version use tofu in place of the feta, and brush the sheets of filo with a non dairy spread. Simply wrap any leftover filo well and freeze for another day.
And here’s John’s impressive looking pie-chart pie, shown together with a smart meter; a great way of keeping track of your energy use in real time and encouraging thriftiness.
Love working with Filo? Then check out my new potatoes and asparagus tartlets.
Even when baking something this impressive there are many little tips that all help save the pennies: here are just a few:
Smart energy-saving cooking tips from British Gas
- Pan-frying meat on the hob uses less energy than braising it in the oven – and is a lot quicker.
- Microwaves generally use 10% less energy than a conventional oven, so use the microwave whenever possible – such as when softening vegetables.
- Cutting food into small pieces helps it cook faster, meaning your steak or chicken will need less time in the pan and will therefore take less energy to cook.
- If you want your water or mixture to heat up faster, put a lid on the pan. It will heat up quicker as the heat is kept in and won’t need as much energy.
- Make sure the pan is the right size for your cooking ring. If you’re cooking with gas, only use the flame on the hob that fits the size of the pan. Also make sure the flame sits in the middle of the pan – this will help save gas and also stops the handle from getting hot and burning your hand!
- Turn the oven off a few (5-10) minutes early, while your food is still in there. The oven will stay hot for this time and continue to cook your dish, while avoiding unnecessary energy use.
- Don’t keep the oven door open for long while food is cooking – the heat inside will escape and cause the oven to cool, meaning you’ll need to keep the pie in there for even longer.
- When making hot water crust pastry, simply boil only the amount of water you actually need in the kettle, before adding to the fat. The heat from the boiling water will be enough to melt the fat completely and you can then start working the flour in.
- There’s no need to pre-cook the apple slices when making apple pie. Simply bake them with the pastry and they’ll still turn out lovely and soft, plus you’ll have saved the energy you would have used when stewing them first.
More recipes with feta
Vegetarian chickpea, feta and butternut squash pie with filo
- 1 glug olive oil
- ½ onion (finely diced)
- 1 clove garlic
- ½ red pepper (diced)
- 2 tsp plain flour
- ½ pint /280ml vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- ½ can chickpeas
- ¼ butternut squash (roasted)
- 75 g feta cheese (cut into 1cm cubes)
- 2-3 sheets filo pastry
- 10 g butter (melted)
- Preheat oven to 200C / Gas mark 6
- In a pan, fry the onion and garlic in the oil until soft and transparent.
- Add the red pepper, and fry for a couple of minutes.
- Add plain flour and fry until cooked. Slowly add the stock and then the tomato puree.
- Finally add the chickpeas and roasted butternut squash. Allow to cook for a few minutes.
- Add the feta cubes and transfer to pie dish.
- Take each sheet of filo pastry, cut in half, brush on some melted butter, and scrunch up from the middle, with your hand underneath the pastry.
- Cover the filling with the filo.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the filo is golden on top, turning the oven off 5 minutes before cooking time is up.
What are your favourite energy saving tips in the kitchen?
Recipe for Vegetarian chickpea, feta and butternut squash pie with filo commissioned by British Gas. All opinions our own.
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