Nigel Slater’s recipe for pea, herb and mozzarella pie | food

HAS sheet of greaseproof paper or baking parchment placed over the surface of the leeks as they cook will help them soften in their own steam rather than frying. Don’t skip the salting of the courgettes as this will leave you with a wet filling.

Serves 6
For the pastry
plain flour 350g
butter 125g
Parmesan cheese 60g, finely grated
lemon thyme leaves 2 tbsp
parsley 2 tbsp, chopped
egg yolks 2
water 50-75ml

For the filling
zucchini 250g
leeks 2, wide
butter 25g
water 2 tbsp
peas 200g (weight after podding)
chips 8
mint 10g
thyme leaves 1 tbsp
lemon zest of 1
Mozzarella 2 balls
egg a little beaten to finish

Make the pastry: put the flour in a large, wide bowl then add the butter, cut into small cubes. Rub the butter and flour together between your thumbs and fingertips until you have a breadcrumb-like texture. Alternatively, pulse for a few seconds in a food processor. Quicker, but somehow less pleasing.

Add the parmesan, thyme and parsley then the egg yolks to the flour and butter. Combine, preferably with cool hands, adding enough water to produce a rollable dough. A minute of gentle kneading on a floured work surface will help. Wrap in kitchen film or greaseproof paper and chill for 20-30 minutes.

Make the filling: wipe and coarsely grate the courgettes, then transfer to a colander. Sprinkle them generously with salt, then place the colander over a bowl and leave for 30 minutes.

Trim the leeks and discard tough leaves. Cut them in half lengthways then slice into pieces the thickness of a pencil. Transfer to a colander and rinse under cold running water, then shake to remove any excess water.

Melt the butter in a large, wide pan over a low heat. Tip in the leeks, pour in the water then cover with greaseproof paper or baking parchment and a lid. Cook for 10-12 minutes, with the occasional stir. The leeks should be soft, but without browning. Stir in the Peas.

Set the oven at 180C fan/gas mark 6.

Finely chop the chives and mint and add them, with the thyme, to the leeks. Stir in the lemon zest. Squeeze the courgettes firmly in your hands to remove as much water as you can, then stir into the leeks with a grinding of pepper and cook for 4-5 minutes. Break the mozzarella into large pieces, add to the filling and set aside.

Roll the pastry on a lightly floured board into a 40cm x 35cm rectangle, then transfer to a parchment covered baking sheet. Using a draining spoon, pile the filling into the center of the pastry, leaving a 6cm rim of bare pastry around the edge and pressing the filling against the side of the pan to remove any liquid as you go. Bring the rim up and loosely fold over the filling, leaving an open area in the middle.

Brush the pastry with the beaten egg and the exposed vegetables with olive oil and bake for 35 minutes until the pastry is golden. Rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Nigel Slater is the Observer’s cookery writer

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