Saturday, 31 August 2013

Spiced Aubergine and Lentil Filo Pie

We're still riding the healthy-eating horse, and doing pretty well too, but one of the things I've really been missing is pastry. Big, fat, buttery pastry. Definitely one to avoid for the moment. BUT there's hope yet - thank heaven for filo! At about 100 calories a sheet it means a pie is still a pie, but one that won't make me as wide as I am tall. So I've been doing some experimenting, and this recipe is one of the results.

This crispy, flaky, spicy aubergine and lentil offering came out at under 250 calories per serving if made with the dreaded Fry-Light (I've stated oil in the recipe because I don't hate you all, should only add about 350 cals for the whole recipe though if you measure out the 3 tablespoons). Pretty good going, and it's damn tasty as well. It goes well with Middle Eastern-type accompaniments - a tabbouleh or a fattoush salad for example, but equally well with just some green leaves out of a bag if you can't be bothered. And a glass of red.

It's also vegan! Check the packet of the filo pastry just in case, but most brands I've seen are suitable for vegans, including many supermarket own-brands.

Serves 4 - don't forget to leave time for the filling to cool! 

What you need

1 large aubergine
1 400g tin cooked brown or puy lentils
As many sheets as you like of ready-made filo pastry - I used 6
2 medium sized onions (chopped)
1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 cloves garlic (crushed)
thumb-sized nubbin of ginger (grated or just bunged through the garlic crusher)
1/2 tbsp dark brown sugar
3 tbsp olive oil (or other weapon of choice)
2 tsps fennel seeds (plus extra to scatter over)
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cayenne chilli powder
salt and pepper to taste

What to do

Turn the oven on at 180 degrees. Chop the aubergine into smallish cubes, toss in 1 tablespoon of the oil and transfer to a baking dish. Put in the oven to roast while you carry on with the rest - it will want to be in for about 20 minutes, but keep checking it.

Heat the other tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan, and add the chopped onion, garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin and chilli powder. Put the lid on so that it all just sweats together rather than browning too  much.

Grab a frying pan and put on a high heat. Add the fennel seed to the dry pan and dry-fry them for a couple of minutes until they're brown and smelling all fennel-y, then add to the onion and spice mixture.

Once the onions etc. are translucent and starting to brown in places, add the chopped tomatoes and the lentils, having poured off the liquid from the lentil tin. Your aubergine will probably be roasted enough now, so slap that in too. Add the brown sugar, and season with salt and pepper.

Allow the pie filling to cook down over a medium heat until it's thickened. You can mainly just go off and do something else at this point, just come back every once in a while to give it a bit of a stir. It will probably take about 15 minutes for the mixture to reduce to pie-filling consistency. Once it's done, the filling will need some time to cool down. If you add the hot filling straight to the pastry, it will just go into a soggy mush. Spread it out on something so it cools quicker and it should be alright after about half an hour.

Grab a shallow baking dish and layer up 3 (or more if you like) sheets of filo pastry, brushing each sheet with some of your remaining tablespoon of olive oil (or spray with you-know-what). Spread over the filling, then finish up with a further 3+ layers of filo to form the top layer, still brushing each one with oil.

Scatter some fennel seeds over the top, and put in the oven for 25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown.


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