Spinach and pancetta almost-pie

This spinach and pancetta almost-pie is a satisfyingly simple recipe that allows its key ingredients to really shine. Why almost-pie? I'm not sure whether it's just me but I believe a true pie should have a pastry base, so I thought I'd manage expectations from the start, this is a filling gently covered in a duvet of puff pastry.

For the puff pastry I much prefer making my own, there’s something very satisfying about watching your creation rising in the oven one delicate layer at a time. I use a retro recipe from one of my Grandma’s passed down recipe books - it’s no different to today’s recipes; I use just under 50/50 butter to flour (250g unsalted butter and 300g plain flour) and a good pinch of salt. Though satisfying to make, I don’t always have the time so on this occasions the almost-pie you see in the photo uses shop bought puff pastry. However I’d definitely recommend making your own if you do have time.

This recipe will easily feed four hungry souls. Serve with a nice green vegetable such as broccoli to finish the meal off. If there's any leftover it's also a bit of cracker cold.

Ingredients

Key ingredients include pancetta produced by the Cotswold Curer.

Dancy's Fancy a brie-like cheese made by The Organic Farm Shop just outside of Cirencester. It has a distinctive creamy taste with a texture not to dissimilar to a French soft cheese. I like using Dancy's Fancy in this recipe as the flavours are subtle enough to work with the spinach and pancetta - an unripe brie would also work.

And the spinach comes from my garden.

  • 500g of rough puff pastry
  • 200g pancetta
  • 200g spinach
  • 500g of waxy pre potatoes
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 garlic clove finely chopped
  • 150g Dancy’s Fancy or similar soft cheese
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 450ml milk
  • 2 tsp mustard
  • 2 eggs
  • Vegetables of your choice

One pie dish

Method

  1. Before starting on the pie you need to boil the potatoes. Boil for 20 mins, drain and leave to one side to cool.
  2. Cut the pancetta into small cubes and fry off on a medium heat until they start going brown and slightly crispy.
  3. Slice the onion and add to the pan followed by the finely chopped garlic.
  4. Next job is to add in the flour. Before you do, turn the heat down to a low hear about a minute before you put the flour in. Keep stirring the mixture as you add the flour, which should be coating the pancetta and onions.
  5. Continue to stir and add a quarter of the milk. Once the first bit of milk has combined to form a soft paste, pour in the rest.
  6. Stir in the cheese and the mustard and allow the sauce to come to a gentle boil - as it does you should start to see the sauce start to thicken. Simmer for a couple of minutes.
  7. Roughly chop the chunks of pre-boiled new potatoes and add to the mixture along with the spinach.
  8. Don’t forget to taste your concoction, adding black pepper and salt according to taste. Once you're happy take your filling off the heat.
  9. Separate one of the eggs and beat the yolk with the other whole egg. Stir the yolky mixture into your pan until fully combined – its important you take the mixture off the heat when adding the egg or you could end up with scrambled egg. Pour the whole mixture in to your pie dish.
  10. Roll out your puff pastry until it is roughly the same size as your dish. Drape over your filling, brush over the remaining egg white and pop it in a pre-heated (200°) oven for about half an hour or until the pastry is golden brown.
  11. Serve warm with a side portion of your chosen vegetable.