Spiced chestnut and squash filo pie with feta
1 medium butternut squash (about 1kg)
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing
2 red onions, peeled and finely sliced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ras el hanout
50g dried apricots, chopped
180g chestnuts, roughly chopped
300ml vegetable stock
2 eggs, beaten
1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and chopped
100g crumbled feta
7 sheets filo pastry
Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Peel the squash, then deseed and cut the flesh into chunky half-moons. Space out on a couple of lightly greased baking trays, brush with a little more oil, season and bake for 40 minutes, until soft.
Meanwhile, gently fry the onions in the remaining oil until soft (about 15 minutes), then stir in the garlic and spices. Fry, stirring, for another couple of minutes, then add the dried fruit, chestnuts and stock. Bring to a simmer, take off the heat and slowly beat in the eggs with a fork, to make a creamy sauce. Leave to cool, then stir in the parsley and feta, and season to taste.
Melt the butter. Take the filo out of its packet and cover with a damp cloth (this will stop it drying out). Brush a large pie dish with butter, then lay one sheet of filo lengthways across half the width of the dish, so it overhangs the sides. Brush all over with butter, then take another filo sheet, line the other half of the dish and brush with more butter. Lay a third sheet of filo down the length of the dish, and brush this, too, with butter.
Spoon in a layer of the fruit and chestnut mix, top with a layer of the pumpkin slices, and repeat until both are used up. Fold the overhanging pastry over the filling, then lay a fourth sheet of filo lengthways on top. Brush all over with butter, then lay another sheet of filo on top of this. Fold in any overhang and brush again with butter. Brush the final two sheets of filo with butter, scrunch them up a little and put on top of the pie. Cover with foil, being careful not to squash the pastry, and freeze.
Heat the oven to 160C/325F/gas mark 2½. Bake the pie from frozen, still covered in foil, for 45 minutes, then remove the foil, turn up the heat to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 and cook for another 45 minutes, until golden and heated through. (To cook straight after constructing the pie, cover with foil, bake for 40 minutes, remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes, until the top is golden.)
This is one of those vegetarian main courses you should fully expect most meat eaters to dig into as well, “just to give it a try”. Sweet with spiced squash and choc-a-bloc full of festive fruit and nuts, this happily goes straight from freezer to oven, making it the ideal thing for the organised cook to stash in preparation for the big day. (Time-poor omnivores note: beef wellington, salmon en croute, and most pies and stews are also freezeable, though a decent roast turkey is, as yet, sadly not.) Serves six.
Felicity Cloake - https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/dec/03/top-10-christmas-cooking-cheats-felicity-cloake