As we come up to the Easter holidays, I wanted to share this impressive dish with you in case you were looking for something special to create. I have to confess this is the longest recipe with the most elements I’ve shared so far. Don’t be scared though! It may look complicated, but once broken down into segments, it’s not as difficult as it might look on first glance. Honest 😉
Of course, you can make this at any time of the year and vary the filling to whatever is in season. April can be a challenging time for fresh produce as we enter the ‘hungry gap’ – winter grown and stored veggies are running out and the new season of fresh produce is a while off from being ready. Going forward for a while, the seasonal veg is going to be very green! But for now, there’s still a little colour, so I’ve used carrots to brighten up the layers and lovely Spring greens, full of flavour and amazing nutrients.
If you have the time and energy, you can make this recipe in one go, juggling creating the different elements as you go. I prefer to prepare a few things in advance and take my time though. It can also be made one or two days in advance and reheated when you’re ready to dine.
There are 6 elements to this recipe:
- potato layer
- carrot layer
- leek and greens layer
- savoury chickpea layer
No element takes a long time; the construction is probably the one that requires the most attention, but that’s more about getting the pastry in the tin than anything else! It’s best to have all the layers ready and cool enough to handle before popping them inside the pastry, so focus on them first. I cooked the potatoes and roast the carrots the night before when I’m cooking dinner. Then make the leeks and greens and chickpea mix at the same time before making the pastry when I’m ready to cook the pie. But feel free to do it how you like.
One key thing you do need (apart from a rolling pin!) is a loose-bottomed spring form cake tin like this one. As you can see from the photo, once cooked the pastry doesn’t stick to the tin (famous last words!) but you need some help to lift it out. My one is 18cm wide which is just right and provides 6 very hearty portions (I’m always feeding hungry bodies!) or 8 normal sized one.
I’m using my magic pastry recipe for this dish, one and half times the amount in the original recipe to make sure there’s plenty to cover the filling. There will be a little left over, but it’s worth not skimping on the crust so you don’t get breakage. I’ve used walnuts, but hazelnuts are equally awesome for this dish. If you need to be nut free then sunflower or pumpkin seeds will work just as well. Also, if you need to avoid gluten, make sure you use oats that are certified gluten free.
Once the pastry is rolled out and all the fillings prepared, it’s super easy to fill the pie, just layering up to get different colours and textures. So that once it’s cooked and you cut into it, you and your guests are presented with a colourful tower of loveliness!
Because of the variety of ingredients used in this recipe, it’s fantastic for gut health as there’s so many types of fibre. Add the lovely little polyphenols found in colourful vegetables, which gut microbes also love, it’s a veritable smorgasbord of nutrients and flavours that you and your friendly bacteria will love.
I do hope you give this recipe a go. Trust me when I say it’s not as daunting as it might look at first glance. Just give yourself time, space and it will all come together rather wonderfully. And if you do make it, don’t forget to let me know how you get on.
Rainbow layer pie
- 18cm loose-bottomed spring form cake tin
- non-stick baking paper
For the potato layer
- 400 grams potatoes
For the roasted carrot layer
- 350 grams carrots
- 2 tbsp fresh rosemary roughly chopped plus extra sprigs for garnish
For the leeks and greens layer
- 200 grams leeks shredded
- 150 grams spring greens shredded and rinsed under a running tap
- 1 tsp garlic granules
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
For the chickpea layer
- 1 medium red onion finely chopped
- 1 small clove garlic grated
- 1 tbsp thyme fresh or dried
- 1 tbsp tamari or coconut amines
- 50 ml red wine or vegetable stock
- 400 grams tinned cooked chickpeas drained
For the pastry
- 150 grams oats (gluten free if needed) ground into a flour
- 150 grams walnuts or sunflower seeds ground
- 3 tbsp ground flaxseed
- 1 tbsp ground thyme
- 180 mls cold water
For all elements
- salt and pepper to taste
For the potatoes
- Scrub the potatoes and cut in half or quarter depending how big they are. Pop them in a pan of boiling water and cook for 15 minutes or until just cooked - don't let them go mushy.
- Drain and leave to cool.
- Cut into 2.5 cm thick slices. You can at this point roast the potato slices if you wish (I don't but it adds a little extra flavour)
For the roasted carrot layer
- Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC.
- Peel the carrots if the skin is marked (old carrots tend to go a little wrinkled - but then don't we all 😉 ). Cut lengthways into 2 cm thick slices. A standard width carrot usually cuts into 4 strips.
- Lay the carrots on a non-stick baking tray. Sprinkle the chopped rosemary over the top along with a pinch of salt. You can add a few squirts of olive oil now or sprinkle some water over the top.
- Roast in the oven for 20 minutes or until the carrots start to caramelise around the edges. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
Leeks and greens layer
- Heat a couple of tablespoons of water in the base of a large non-stick frying pan. Add the leeks with a pinch of salt and sauté for a couple of minutes until they start to soften. Add the shredded greens and continue to sauté for another 5 minutes until the greens are soft and any water has mostly evaporated (you don't want it soggy).
- Add the garlic granules, nutritional yeast and season with salt and pepper. Stir well to combine then turn off the heat. Leave to cool.
- Heat a couple of tablespoons of water in the base of a small non-stick pan. Add the chopped red onion with a pinch of salt and sauté on a medium heat for 5 minutes stirring from time to time - add more water to stop it sticking.
- Add the grated garlic and tamari and cook for another couple of minutes.
- Stir in the thyme turn up the heat.
- Pour in the wine (or stock) and let it bubble for a few minutes to evaporate the alcohol. Then turn off the heat and leave to cool for a couple of minutes.
- Pop the chickpeas into the bowl of a food processor or small blender pot and spoon in the red onion mix. Pulse a few times until the chickpeas are broken down and the mix brought together - make sure you have some texture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
For the pastry
- Put the ground oats, ground nuts (or seeds), ground flaxseed and dried thyme in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Mix together with a whisk.
- Add 80% of the water and bring together into a soft dough first with a spoon, then your hands. The mix will probably be too dry, so cautiously add more water until you get a soft dough. Leave to stand for 10 minutes.
Make the pie (at last!)
- Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC. Cut the pastry into thirds, equal sizes.
- Place one sheet of non-stick baking paper on the worktop with one third of the pastry in the middle. Place the other sheet of baking paper over the pastry and press down with the ball of your hand to flatten it slightly.
- Roll the pastry out into a round the same size as the base of the cake tin. Remove the top sheet of paper. Place the cake tin upside down on the pastry and cut around it. Remove the excess pastry leaving the cake tin in situ. Carefully pop your hand underneath the sheet of paper so you're holding the pastry. Place your other hand on the bottom of the tin and gently turn the sheet and tin the other way so the pastry falls into the base (you may need to help it a little).
- The pastry will be a little bit bigger than the base of the tin. Gently push the pastry into the corners and up the side slightly. If the pastry breaks, just pinch it back together - it's very adaptable.
- Place the second ball of pastry on the baking paper, cover it and roll out a long strip the same width as the side of the cake tin. Peel the strip off the paper and push into the side of the cake tin. Press the bottom edge into the pastry base so they're stuck together. You probably won't cover the whole tin, so gather up the leftover pastry from this ball and the first and roll out again to fit the remaining gap in the tin. Pinch the connecting sides together to make it complete.
- Now it's time to fill the pie.
- Place the slices of cooked potato in the base of tin, covering the pastry. Season with salt and pepper.
- Spoon half the leek and greens mix over the potato and season.
- Arrange the slices of roasted carrot over the greens mix.
- Next add the chickpea mix and spread it out to cover the carrots. Season with salt and pepper.
- Finish the layers with the remaining leek and greens mix. You should be right at the top of the tin by now. Press the mix down if it's spilling over the top.
- Grab the final third of the pastry and roll out between the sheets of the paper to a round to fit the top of the pie. Cut out a round using the tin as a template.
- Carefully peel the pastry of the non-stick baking paper on to the top of the pie. Press the edges of the pastry together to make a seal.
- Cut a couple of slits in the top to let the steam out. You can add a couple of sprigs of rosemary in the slit for the extra flavour.
- Bake in the middle of the oven for 30 -40 minutes until the pastry is lightly browned and the filling is hot.
- Remove from the oven and leave in the tin for 10 minutes before removing the outside of the tin by loosening the spring. Leave it on the base of the tin to serve.
- Carefully cut into slices - a sharp knife helps to keep the layers clean - and serve with additional veg or salad of choice.