One of our very favourite cooks, Guardian columnist Anna Jones has shared a celebratory Christmas recipe with us this year from her brilliant Vegetarian Christmas Guide. The guide is so useful if you’re wondering what to cook for Christmas Day, or choosing a vegetarian or vegan Christmas for the first time. There is a useful shopping list and plan for the day itself, the very best gravy recipe, ideas for feeding a crowd, new ideas for show stopping dinners, and even ideas for leftovers.
This recipe is perfect to feed a bunch and is easier than it looks. This version uses cavolo nero, which is around over Christmas and the new year. Anna uses a 30cm round pan for this pie, but it can easily be made in a 20 x 30cm rectangular dish to slice into squares.
Olive oil, for cooking and brushing
2 leeks, finely shredded
600g Cavolo Nero
1 red chilli
2 cloves garlic
100g almonds, toasted
A bunch of mixed soft herbs (I like mint, dill, coriander and parsley)
1 lemon zest
200g feta, crumbled
1/8 nutmeg, grated
3 eggs, beaten
6 sheets of filo pastry
Olive oil, for brushing
15g pine nuts
Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan. Fry the leeks over a medium-low heat with a pinch of salt, stirring regularly, for 8-10 minutes until the leeks are completely soft and translucent.
While the leeks are cooking, strip the kale from its stalks – do this by pinching the leaf into the lighter green stalk at the base and pulling firmly to the tip of the leaf to separate the two. Chop the stalks finely and add these to the leek pan along with the garlic and chilli. Cook for a further 6 minutes, stirring regularly, until the leeks and kale stalks have lost all of their rawness and are beginning to colour at the edges. Scrape into a large mixing bowl.
Rinse the kale leaves well in a large colander, then transfer to a large saucepan with a lid. Cook over a medium heat, removing the lid occasionally and turning the leaves with tongs until the leaves are deep green and wilted. Transfer to a colander to cool. When the leaves are cool enough to handle, take a handful between your hands and squeeze to remove all of the excess water. Chop finely and tip into a mixing bowl with the leeks and kale stalks.
Roughly chop the almonds and herbs and mix these into the kale mixture with the lemon zest, 150g of the feta (keeping the rest for the top of the pie) and nutmeg. Taste the mixture and add more salt if you like. When you’re happy with the seasoning, stir through the eggs. Cover and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Grease a 30cm round pie tin or frying pan that can fit in the oven (If you prefer to slice the pie into squares, use a 20 x 30cm rectangular tin and layer the filo slices over the base). Unroll the filo pastry and cover with a clean tea towel. Lay a sheet of
filo over the tin and brush all over with olive oil. Repeat with the remaining sheets of filo, turning the tin about 4cm with each sheet so that the pastry edges form a star pattern. Tip the cooled kale mixture into the centre of the tin and even the surface with a spatula. Piece by piece, fold the corners of the filo pastry into the centre, brushing with oil as you go. Some of the kale mixture should still be visible in the centre. Scatter over the reserved feta and the pine nuts and place in the oven for 40 minutes until golden and crisp all over. Allow the pie to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before inverting onto a large plate, then back onto a board to slice so that the kale is visible. Slice into wedges or squares if using a rectangular tin.
Image: Anna Jones