Serves 6-8, 40 minutes preparation, 2 hours 40 minutes cooking

This delicious vegetarian pie is a fantastic alternative for your Christmas Day main course for all of your meat-free guests. When you slice into the pie the beautiful, colourful layers are revealed making this pie a spectacular centre piece for your table. 

Ingredients

For the pastry

  • 700g Plain Flour
  • 140g unsalted butter
  • 85g White Vegetable Shortening
  • 1 Egg, beaten
  • 100ml Milk

For the filling

  • 1 small Butternut Squash (around 1kg), peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 100g Pearl Barley
  • 400g Baby Spinach
  • 3 Onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 85 cooked Chestnuts
  • 3tbsp Olive Oil
  • 100g Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1.2ltr Vegetable Stock
  • 250g Ricotta Cheese
  • 200g full-fat Soft Cheese
  • 1tbsp Dark Soy Sauce
  • Zest of 1 Lemon
  • 10g fresh Sage Leaves, chopped
  • 20g fresh Parsley, chopped

Method

  1. Heat oven to 200˚C and roast the butternut squash with 1tbsp oil for 25-30 minutes until it is tender, then set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a large pan and cook the onions and garlic for 10 minutes until soft but not browned. Remove two-thirds if the mixture and set aside in a bowl then add the mushrooms, chestnuts and pearl barley to the pan. Cook for 3-5 minutes then pour in the stock before bringing it to the boil. Boil the mixture for 30 minutes until the barley is tender and sticky and there is no liquid left. Remove the pan from the heat then stir in the soy sauce, season with some pepper and set aside.
  3. Whilst the barley mixture is cooking you can make the other layers. Add the lemon zest, ricotta, soft cheese into the bowl with the reserved onions and garlic, season then mix until smooth. Take a third of the mixture and gently fold with the sage and roasted squash in a separate bowl. 
  4. For the final layer, boil the kettle then tip half the spinach into a large colander. Pour over the boiling water to wilt the leaves then repeat with the rest of the spinach until it is all prepared. Tip the spinach onto a clean tea towel and gently squeeze out all the moisture you can. Roughly chop before mixing into the remaining ricotta mixture with the parsley.
  5. To make the pie, brush a 900g loaf tin with a little olive oil. Make 3 long triple-layer strips of foil and lay these across the width of the tin to help you lift out the pie to serve when it is cooked. Tip the flour and 3tspof salt into a very large mixing bowl then in a pan, gently melt the butter, shortening and milk together with 200ml water. Once the mixture is melted, increase heat until bubbling fiercely, tip into the flour and quickly beat with a wooden spoon until combined. Once the pastry is cool enough to handle, knead it until it comes together in the bowl, then tip onto a lightly floured work surface. Set aside a third and roll the rest into a large rectangle- big enough to line the tin with a little overhanging.
  6. Gently ease the pastry into the tin, pressing evenly into the corners and sides. Next, spoon in the spinach layer, smooth the surface, then repeat with the barley and finally the squash layer. Dome the squash mix slightly rather than making it flat and level to give the pie a rounded top. Roll out the remaining pastry to make the lid, brush the edges with some of the beaten egg, then press the lid over the top. Trim the excess and crimp or pinch to seal, then decorate with pastry trimmings cut into leaves. At this stage the pie can be covered and chilled overnight.
  7. Put a large baking sheet in the oven then brush the surface of the pie with some more of the beaten egg before lifting onto the heated baking tray and bake for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, reduce the heat to 180˚C and bake for a further 1 hr 30 mins until the pastry is golden brown and feels hard. Stand for 15-20 minutes while you get the rest of the meal ready - the pie will stay warm. 
  8. To serve, gently tip out the pie, or use the foil strips to lift out carefully and carry to the table and slice thickly – enjoy!

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