We are not vegetarians. We love a well-cooked bit of animal protein as much as the next cave-man-woman-child. Well, one of us calls himself a vegetarian, notwithstanding the occasional hot dog, burger or any other minced up and disguised meat. When we have a bona fide steak, he gets lentils, chickpeas or some other protein I rack my brains to provide. But moving-right-along, three out of four days would be meat-free for all of us. Yes, we love our VEG.
As with a lot of my meals, this one begins with a mountain of leafy greens. In this case, silverbeet and spinach. There are also pantry staples such as ricotta, parmesan, feta and pinenuts. Wrap'em all up in buttered filo pastry and you have a little bundle of joy! If I'm lucky there'll be some left-over for the little cave-kids to pack in their lunch boxes (the herbivore AND the carnivore, as it covers all the bases).
Silverbeet, Feta and Pinenut Roll
from Annabel Langbein's The Free Range Cook
300g Silverbeet and 300g spinach
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 cup ricotta
3/4 feta, crumbled
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/4 cup chopped coriander
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
finely grated zest 1/2 lemon
1/3 cup pinenuts, toasted
1/2 teaspoon salt
ground black pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
8 sheets filo pastry
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. I like to take all of the stalks of the spinach and silverbeet and discard them. This means you are only left with the lovely soft leaves and no course stuff, making the finished pie lovely and tender.Wash, dry and chop the leaves.
Melt the butter in a medium pan and cook the onion over a low heat until soft but not browned - about 5 minutes. Add the silverbeet and spinach and cook until the water evaporates and the leaves are dry. This can take a while, as leafy greens tend to be watery. It's worth making sure it's nice and dry as soggy leaves means a soggy roll.
Remove the pot from the heat and mix in the ricotta, feta, parmesan, coriander, nutmeg, lemon zest, pinenuts and egg. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Place a sheet of filo on the bench. Brush it with melted butter. Place a second sheet on top and brush it with butter. Continue pattern until all the sheets have been used. You will now have a stack of eight buttered filo sheets.
Form the silverbeet mixture into a sausage shape along one of the longer edges of the pastry, leaving a 3cm border at the sides.
Turn the sides of the pastry in like an envelope and roll it up gently and loosely to enclose the filling making a log shape. If you roll it too tight it will split. Transfer the log to a baking tray, brush the top with butter and bake until it is golden and crisp - about 40 minutes, which is usually too long for my little vegetarian wanna-be!