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Spring Vegetable Pies with Herbs & Lemon  

These gorgeous little pies are a celebration of spring. The ingredients list is long but the pies are fun to make, especially combined with a forage for greenery.  Millet flour makes a lovely gluten-free pastry – easy to roll and beautifully crisp… 

Spring Veg Pie 3

MAKES 4  

  • 225g chard   
  • 225g spinach   
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing  
  • 35g unsalted butter   
  • 4 small shallots, finely chopped  
  • 55g baby broad beans shelled (fresh or defrosted frozen)  
  • 110g wild garlic (see Cook’s note)  
  • 15g small nettle leaves (see Cook’s note)  
  • 2 tsp thyme leaves, chopped  
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon  
  • Quarter tsp sea salt, plus sea salt flakes for sprinkling  
  • Quarter tsp freshly ground black pepper  
  • 3 tbsp ricotta cheese   
  • 4 tbsp Parmesan cheese, freshly grated  
  • 2 eggs, organic or free range, lightly beaten   

FOR THE PASTRY 

  • 85g millet flour   
  • 70g rice flour   
  • 85g potato starch   
  • Three-quarter tsp xanthan gum   
  • Quarter tsp sea salt   
  • 100g unsalted butter, chilled, diced  
  • 1 large egg, organic or free range, beaten  
  • 2 tsp lemon juice   
  • 1–2 tbsp chilled water    

YOU WILL NEED  

  • Four round metal or disposable pie dishes, 10 x 3cm/4 x 1in  
  1. First make the pastry. Put the flours, potato starch, xanthan gum and salt into a sieve set over a bowl. Muddle with your fingers, then push through the sieve once or twice until well mixed. Work in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs. Mix in the beaten egg and lemon juice, then add a little water, half a tbsp at a time, until the dough comes together.  
  2. Tip the dough onto a floured work surface and form into a thick disc. Wrap in greaseproof paper and chill for 1 hour.  
  3. Separate the chard stalks from the leaves. Slice the stalks into bite-sized pieces and the leaves into ribbons. Place the stalks in the bottom of a steamer basket, and top with the leaves and the spinach. Steam for 3 mins, in batches if necessary, until only just tender. Remove the stalks and set aside. Put the chard and spinach leaves in a sieve and use the back of a wooden spoon to squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Squeeze with your hands as well, to extract every last drop.  
  4. Next, heat the oil and butter in a high-sided frying pan over a medium heat. Fry the shallots for 2 mins until translucent, then add the chard stalks, broad beans, wild garlic, nettles, thyme and lemon zest. Season with the salt and pepper, and fry for 1 more min. Reduce the heat to medium–low, then stir in the squeezed-dry chard and spinach leaves. Fry for 2 mins to heat through. Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly.  
  5. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Lightly grease the pie dishes.  
  6. Mix together the ricotta cheese, Parmesan and all but 1 tbsp of the beaten egg in a bowl. Stir into the vegetables.   
  7. Divide the pastry into four equal-sized chunks. Pinch off about one-quarter from each chunk for the lids. Roll out the larger pastry pieces to 17-cm/6.5-in circles. Lift carefully and place in the pie dishes, pushing into the corner with the edge of your index finger. Trim the edge with scissors, reserving the trimmings. Patch any cracks by pressing the dough together with your fingers.  
  8. Fill with the vegetable mixture, packing it in well. Paint the pastry edges with some of the saved beaten egg.  
  9. Combine the pastry trimmings from each dish with the smaller pieces of dough. Form into four small balls and roll out to 11-cm/4.5-in circles. Place on top of the pies and seal the edges by pressing with your fingers or the back of a fork. Brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle with a few sea salt flakes. Prick the surface in several places with a fork.  
  10. Put on a baking tray and bake for 20 mins, or until golden. Serve hot or at room temperature.  

Cook’s note: If you can’t get hold of wild garlic or nettle leaves, use a little more chard and spinach.  

Flour by Christine McFadden, published by Absolute Press 

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West Country FOODLOVER is a print magazine and news based website offering a foodie’s guide of what’s hot across the South West. We inspire foodies with great seasonal recipes, competitions, news and events. The magazine, website and newsletter reach more than 128,000 foodies each issue.