Fabulous Filo Leftover Pie

This is more of a suggestion than a recipe, because you could use any leftovers you want to make this pie. As long as you have a few sheets of filo kicking about the kitchen you’re onto a winner.

I had made way too much curry on Friday night and I was all set to do my usual and turn it into soup. But as I opened the fridge I spotted 3 sheets of filo pastry. I’d used the rest of the pack to make samosas and just couldn’t decide what to do with the rest.

And so this happy collision of leftovers was born. I added a couple of handfuls of couscous to my leftover curry just to make sure this was a hearty enough pie for us hungry lot.

My curry was sweet potato and chicken, but like I say, you could use whatever curry you have leftover, or use up bolognese or bean stew or a creamy fish dish or a fiery chilli. You get the idea, just experiment with what you have. I don’t often have leftovers as we are a hungry household. But this is so good, with a satisfying crunch and a flavour packed filling I’d be tempted to make extra curry just so I know I’ll have enough leftover for this easy pie.

Fabulous Filo Leftover Pie

Ingredients

  • Leftover curry (or chilli or bolognese or stew)
  • A couple of handfuls of couscous (if you want to bulk up your sauce a bit)
  • A few sheets of filo pastry (enough to scrunch up over you dish), I used 3
  • A little oil or melted butter
  • Sesame seeds

Method

  • Preheat your oven to 160 C / gas 3.
  • Reheat your curry and chuck in the couscous, if you’re using it. You could also add a couple of handfuls of frozen peas, chopped spinach or some canned sweetcorn.
  • Pour the sauce into a heat proof dish.
  • Brush your filo sheets with a little oil or melted butter then scrunch up and pop atop the curry.
  • Sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake for 30 minutes. When it’s cooked the pastry will be crisp and lightly golden brown.

Poppy Seed Pizza Dough, for extra crunch

Who doesn’t love pizza eh? So many delicious toppings to choose from and then the array of cheeses to compliment a particular ingredient.  Like a cheeky crumbling of goats cheese with some caramelized onions.  Or occasionally no cheese whatsoever for a classic potato and rosemary combo.

But the base.  Well you can’t really mess with a pizza base too much without accidentally transforming it into something un-pizza-like.

That being said, sometimes I make a wholemeal base and I generally add dried rosemary to my white base. But nothing off the wall crazy you understand.

Yet the other day I veered right off those well trodden pizza tracks.  Oh yes, I added a tablespoon of poppy seeds to my dough.  My thought process was this:  I love a bit of subtle crunch to my pizza so why the heck not? Plus, I’m more than a little partial to poppy seed bread so yeah, I’ll give it a whirl.

The result was an assuredly delicate crunch.  But other than the minor adjustment, this was still 100% a gorgeous pizza.

This is my bread machine pizza dough recipe which means it’s pretty effort free. But if you like to make yours by hand or have a tried and tested pizza dough recipe that you love, just chuck in the seeds when you mix the dough.

Poppy Seed Pizza Dough, for extra crunch

(bread machine method)

Makes 4 – 5 pizza bases

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon yeast
  • 500g strong white flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 350ml water
  • Fine polenta for rolling

Method

  • Put all of the ingredients, except the polenta, in your bread machine. Set for dough and toddle off to do something exciting / relaxing while the machine does its thing.
  • Once it’s ready, tip out onto a clean surface dusted with polenta. Cut the dough into 4 or 5 pieces and roll out to fit your pizza trays.
  • Leave the bases to rest while you get on with the gathering of your chosen toppings.
  • Once your pizzas are ready to bake, I put them in a hot oven preheated to 220 C for 7 – 10 minutes.

A Little Gift to You…

Although this is a pizza dough recipe, I’ll share my simple pizza sauce recipe with you too. I use this every time and it never lets me down.

Just gently fry a thinly sliced clove of garlic in olive oil for a mere minute. Chuck in a can of tomatoes, a pinch each of salt, basil and oregano. Simmer gently for 20 minutes. Leave to cool slightly. I don’t tend to add fresh herbs in my sauce as I like to scatter them directly onto the pizza.

Saturday Night Pasta

If I’m not quick in deciding what’s for dinner on a Saturday evening this is what the kids demand. They call it Butter Pasta, but the name doesn’t do it justice. It’s quick, it’s filling, it’s brimming with flavour. One thing is for sure this is super easy to throw together. There are no vegetables in this, which delights the kids but throws me into a health freak panic. I just serve a big salad at the table with this and everyone (especially me) is happy.

In the most basic iteration of this dish you are boiling a pan of pasta, and serving with butter and Parmesan, which melts gloriously as you stir through the hot pasta. But really there are so many little things you can add to spruce this up. In this, my most complex version, which isn’t very complicated at all, I’m suggesting garlic, dried chilli flakes and a little chicken stock along with the standard issue butter and parmesan. Oh and who wouldn’t want a generous grinding of fresh black pepper over this?

We’ve eaten this with every pasta shape imaginable (except macaroni, which I can’t help but reserve exclusively for Macaroni Cheese). I think my favourite is cavatappi (the kind of corkscrew shaped pasta you can see in the picture above) or fusilli. The kids love spaghetti, of course.

Use what ever pasta you have in the cupboard and make this as simple, or elaborate as you fancy. Here are some of the additions I’ve tried, and loved, so far: lemon zest; fresh red chilli fried with the garlic; sun dried tomatoes; fresh herbs, especially basil, oregano or thyme. As I write this I’m thinking truffle oil in place of the butter would be heavenly. Let your taste buds be your guide.

Ingredients

Serves 4 – 5

  • 500g bag of pasta
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • A small splash of olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried chilli flakes (more if you fancy a spicy pasta)
  • 1/2 stock cube (chicken stock is lovely here but veg is also fine)
  • A rounded tablespoon of butter (more if you like a slicker pasta)
  • A generous grating of Parmesan cheese
  • Black pepper

Method

  • Cook your pasta according to the packet instructions, or for slightly less time than the packet suggests if, like me, you prefer al dente pasta.
  • Meanwhile gently fry your garlic in the olive oil for a minute, add the dried chilli and stir.
  • Crumble in the 1/2 stock cube and add about 100ml of hot water. Stir, simmer for a couple of minutes then turn out the heat.
  • Once your pasta is cooked to perfection, drain and return to the pan, pour and scrape in the garlicky stock and stir.
  • Now plop in the butter and stir again, add more butter if you feel this quantity isn’t enough for you, just don’t go crazy or this could very quickly account for a full day’s worth of calories!
  • Scatter in your Parmesan cheese and stir again.
  • Serve with a good grinding of black pepper and little more grated Parmesan.

Simple Carrot Slaw

Let’s be honest not everyone is a fan of cabbage. It must be one of the least glamourous vegetables out there. Poor old cabbage. I, for the record, love it and could merrily eat it by the bowlful.

I do delight in a homemade coleslaw. I can coax even the most hardened cabbage avoider in my house to sample a teeny bit of classic coleslaw, but who wants that effort? Food should be joyous, not hard graft. So I came up with this cabbage-free slaw, which was accepted by all as a tasty side dish and the bowl was scraped clean. Result.

You could leave out the coriander and keep this really simple. Or you could replace it with any other freshly chopped herb you fancy. You could also sprinkle in some quickly toasted cumin seeds. I do like a piquant kick so I have tried this with a finely chopped green chilli, which, frankly, knocks your socks off.

Whatever you choose to do with this, in a few short minutes it will be ready to charm your taste buds.

Simple Carrot Slaw

Recipe

Ingredients

  • A couple of large carrots, grated
  • A couple of spring onions, finely sliced
  • A dessert spoon of mayo
  • A dessert spoon of greek yoghurt
  • A pinch of salt
  • A grinding of black pepper
  • A small handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped. Plus a few leaves for garnish.

Method

  • Put everything, except your extra coriander garnish, in a bowl and mix.
  • Scatter over the remaining coriander garnish.
  • Eat.

Spiced Carrot & Lentil Soup with Dukkah

I am a big fan of soup. I make it all the time, probably because it is such an easy and gratifying way to get in a big helping of vegetables.

To avoid any soupy boredom I’m always on the lookout for little ways to perk up my steaming bowls of soup. A few years ago I came across dukkah, which is now one of my favourite ways to boost a simple soup, salad or dip.

Dukkah is an Egyptian mix of nuts, seeds, herbs and spices. There are loads of different versions of this, some use pistachios, others hazelnuts. I’ve tried one with fennel seeds and another with coconut.

I tend to stick with this version, however, as I usually have the ingredients in the cupboard. The thing is you can adapt this to suit the nuts and seeds that you happen to have at home and in doing so invent your own unique mixture.

I believe the North Africans grind up this delicious treat to serve with oil as a dip with flatbreads and veg. You could even scatter it atop a delicious houmous for some welcome crunchy texture.

I should probably have dedicated this whole post to dukkah but let’s not forget the soup here. Lightly spiced, silky smooth with a gently sweetness from the carrots this is truly scrumptious in its own right. But scatter over your freshly roasted dukkah and you have a dish worthy of a place in the soup hall of fame.

Spiced CArrot & Lentil Soup with Dukkah

INGREDIENTS

For the soup

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 600g carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, sliced
  • About 2cm of fresh ginger, chopped or grated
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of paprika
  • 1 tablespoon of ground cumin
  • 3 generous handfuls of red lentils
  • 2 stock cubes – make up 1 litre of hot stock

For the Dukkah

  • 40g almonds
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • A pinch of thyme

Method

  1. Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in your pan and fry the onion, carrots, garlic, ginger and spices gently for about 10 minutes.  Stir occasionally.
  • Tip in the lentils, pour over the hot stock and simmer, with a lid on your pan, for about 15 minutes stirring occasionally. If, during cooking, your soup looks a bit dry just add more water or stock.
  • Once the carrots and lentils are nice and tender, blend the soup until beautifully smooth.
  • Meanwhile, heat your oven to gas 4 / 180C.  Spread your nutty seed mix on a baking tray and roast for about 8 minutes.  Keep an eye on them so that they don’t burn and be sure to give the pan a shake half way through.
  • Remove the Dukkah from the oven and sprinkle over 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
  • Now you simply want to break down the nuts a little.  So you can either bash in a pestle and mortar, grind in a blender or just give it all a rough chop on a chopping board.  Just be careful not to over process it as the nuts will release their oil and the mix will turn into a paste.
  • Ladle the soup into bowls and liberally scatter the Dukkah over each bowl before diving in to this taste sensation.

Classic Tomato Soup

Sometimes you just can’t beat a comforting bowl of tomato soup, no matter what the weather. I used to enjoy a bowl of soup from a can when I was a child in the 70’s but homemade soup is the ultimate comfort food if you ask me. Plus it’s quick, easy and full of healthy stuff.

I find this is especially satisfying to the soul, and the stomach, if I add a thick slice of fresh crusty bread and maybe a wedge of mature cheddar.

If you’re watching the calories don’t bother frying the veg, just put all the ingredients (except the milk) in a pan and simmer away. It genuinely tastes just as wonderful.

Classic Tomato Soup Recipe

Makes 4 large bowls or 6 medium sized bowls

Ingredients

  • A tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • About 200g of carrots, peeled or scrubbed and chopped
  • About 100g of potato, peeled and chopped
  • 800ml of stock
  • 2 bayleaves
  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon each of oregano and basil
  • A generous splash of milk (or cream if you’re feeling indulgent)

MEthod

  • Fry the onion, carrot and garlic gently in the oil for about 5 minutes.  Add the potato to the mix, and continue to cook for a few minutes, at which point the starchy spuds will probably have started to stick to the bottom of the pan.
  • Pour in the tomatoes and bay leaves, stir. Add your hot stock and simmer, with a lid on your pan, for about 20 minutes until the veg is tender.
  • Fish out the bay leaves, pour in the milk if you’re using it, and blend the soup.  Have a wee taste and season with salt and pepper if you think it needs it.

To serve try one, or all, of these…

  • This would be nice with chopped fresh basil
  • Thickly sliced crusty bread and butter
  • Oatcakes and cheese
  • A swirl of basil or chilli oil