This year was a vegetarian Christmas as we were at my mum's. However, this wasn't my first so I already had some ideas about what we would cook. In years past we've used the BBC Good Food magazine vegetarian Christmas special and simply followed a recipe. A couple of months previously I'd had a trial run with a recipe of my own, that was magpied from several different chestnut roast recipes, with a little of my own added. So, being already confident with my recipe, I was able to recreate the pie Christmas eve with a minimum of fuss. We then had the pie warmed and sliced with the all the usual Christmas sides (rosemary roast potatoes, cumin roast parsnips, brussel sprouts and carrots), cranberry sauce, and gravy.
Before I lose the scrap of notepaper my recipe is written on, here is the ingredients list and basic method to make the incredible Christmas pie, AKA quinoa pie, or the fake pork pie.
Onion, red (1)
Garlic cloves (3)
Celery sticks (2)
Chestnuts, cooked and peeled (200g)
Panko Breadcrumbs (60g)
Apricots, chopped dried (50g*)
Feta cheese (50g)
Dried herbs, Thyme and Oregano (*)
Fresh herbs, Parsley (*)
Butter and oil
1. Pre-cook the quinoa. In a saucepan cover the quinoa with about double the amount of boiling water. I add the dried herbs at this point, but they can be added directly into the mix also, personal taste. Cover and bring to the boil, then simmer at a low heat for about 15 minutes or until all the water is gone. Set aside and let it cool.
2. Finely chop the onion, garlic and celery. Saute in a little oil at a medium-low heat for 10 minutes or until everything is soft and translucent (but not browned). Let this cool.
3. Chop the chestnuts (finely chopped will help texture and binding the pie together, but I like it a bit more 'rustic' as they say) and gently fry in butter with the zest of one lemon and chopped fresh parsley (if you have any, I didn't have any for Christmas). Finally, let this cool too.
4. In a large mixing bowl (the biggest you can find) beat the three eggs. Add the fruits and nuts you are using, for me this is one grated apple, chopped dried apricots, and chopped walnuts, but you could experiment with whatever you have to hand. Add the Panko Breadcrumbs (it doesn't have to be Panko, but I love them, they are dry and very crisp) and all the cooked ingredients (1, 2, and 3). Mix very thoroughly, start with a spoon then give up and use your hands!
5. Put half the mix in a puff pastry lined loaf tin. Save enough pastry for the top!
Cube the feta and add to the middle of the mix, without touching any sides. Cover with the other half of the mix. Top with the pastry lid. Pinch the edges together and brush an egg glaze if desired (mix a beaten egg yolk and a little milk).
6. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 for at least an hour.
Serve hot, or for a better texture and flavour let it cool before slicing.