A week ago daylight savings ended in Sydney. It was as if someone flicked a switch and the curtain fell on summer. All of a sudden, the leaves were curling on the trees, I was reaching for jumpers in my wardrobe, and seeing pumpkins and leeks everywhere. Autumn is far and away my favourite season, a magical time of year when you can sit at the table with the windows open and the light streaming in (if you live in an apartment like me and don't have a backyard) and enjoy something hot from the oven. Perfect for long, lazy, Sunday lunch.
This pie neatly encapsulates my cooking for friends philosophy managing to be both a bit special and totally unfussy at the same time. It's substantial (the pumpkin purée bolstered by cheese and eggs, the olive oil pastry surprisingly sturdy) yet not too heavy. It goes beautifully with a salad and fills you right up while leaving plenty of room for dessert. And it goes without saying I made dessert. But that's a story for another day. This post is all about pie... and this time, it's savoury.
Pumpkin and feta pie with olive oil pastry
Adapted from a recipe by Karen Martini in the Sydney Morning Herald
This calls for you to line the base of the pie dish with baking paper which is a step I'd do away with next time I think as it made cutting and serving a slice unnecessarily difficult. Seeing as the dish is well greased, the pastry shouldn't stick to the bottom. In theory anyway! Speaking of pastry, this may be the best I've ever worked with - easy to make, a breeze to roll out and effortless to assemble in its finished form. It holds its shape beautifully and doesn't crumble, or get soggy under the weight of its filling.
Short olive oil pastry
1/2 teaspoon salt
60ml extra virgin olive oil
250ml cold water
1.5kg Kent (Jap) pumpkin, seeded, peeled, cut and diced
freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
knob of butter
2 leeks, white part only, finely sliced
120g parmesan, grated
4 gratings nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
handful walnuts, toasted and roughly broken
- Preheat oven to 185 deg C.
- To make pastry, whiz the flour and salt in a food processor. Drizzle in the oil, then add 250ml cold water while processing until a ball forms.
- Tip onto a floured surface and knead briefly til you have a smooth ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and rest in the fridge for an hour.
- Season pumpkin with salt and pepper, toss in oil and roast til well cooked, about 30-40 minutes. Leave to cool.
- While the pumpkin cooks, melt the butter in a small pan and sweat the leeks til softened.
- In a food processor, add half the pumpkin, four of the eggs, half the feta, and all of the parmesan, cinnamon and nutmeg. Purée til smooth. Season if necessary.
- Raise oven temperature to 190 deg C.
- Grease a 30cm pie dish and line the base with baking paper. Roll out the whole round of pastry into a large even circle, allowing enough so that the edges can be folded over to form a lid (this doesn't need to cover the whole filling, but allow some to fold on top). Lay into dish.
- Pour in the pumpkin purée and distribute evenly. Press the remaining pumpkin pieces into the purée, then spread over the leeks, sprinkle over the remaining feta and scatter the walnuts on top. Pull the eges of the pastry in to form a lid, working around the pie, pleating the pastry to form a petal-like pattern, leaving a hole in the centre of the pie. Beat the remaining egg and glaze the pastry.
- Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and leave to cool.