I had big visions of today, Bank Holiday Monday, being beautifully sunny; lots of people around, and a big spread of food on the table greeted with light hearted conversation, followed by a long summer evening. But, as it is exam term (no people) and I live in Coventry (no sun, basically ever.), my illusion was shattered as I spent the afternoon in the library translating Latin. However, I am determined not to give up. This pie is destined for a checkered table cloth, amongst other mini-nibbles, in honour of a special occasion! It cries out to be eaten after a gathering outdoors, the type undoubtedly shown in an idyllic M&S advert.
I chose to make the pie this size because I believed it made it perfect for a starter, or as part of a larger spread – its fantastic flavour is given to you in a burst, enticing you to try other foods and enjoy the rest of the meal. The use of the sweet potato and green beans together gave the dish brilliant colour – as the pastry is gradually eaten, the contrasting hues are revealed, giving the dish an air of impression.
However, despite the use of mozzarella for binding the ingredients together in some way, I was concerned about a lack of sauce. Whilst this pie is not intended to be a wintry staple such as a Shepherds’ pie, which requires a good meaty sauce, the potential dryness of the dish led me to looking into ways to modify the recipe to give it moisture. I decided to add onions and garlic, fried in a little olive oil. Not only did they together bring extra flavour, the small amount of olive oil served sufficiently to coat the ingredients and prevent dryness. This, combined with the melted mozzarella, bound the roasted sweet potato and tender green beans together beneath the pastry, strengthening the overall textures of the dish.
Finally, even though this is a great vegetarian dish, if you did want to add meat, I think chicken would compliment this well. It works well in dishes without sauces, and would go well with the mozzarella and green beans. This pie is light, and so shouldn’t be brought down by heavy accompaniments – a green salad, would go perfectly.
- Medium sweet potato, peeled and diced – roughly one sweet potato per two people
- Green beans, trimmed and halved
- Red onion, diced – quarter per person
- ½ ball of mozzarella per person, torn into small pieces
- 1 clove of garlic, finely sliced
- Chili flakes, to taste
- Green salad, to serve
- Cold water
- Heat the oven to 200 degrees. Place the diced sweet potato in an oven-proof dish with a small knob of butter. Sprinkle with the chili flakes to taste, and then roast for 20 minutes until tender.
- Whilst the sweet potato is roasting, boil the beans in water until tender. To make the pastry, gently rub together in a bowl the butter and flour with the tips of your fingers. Ensure this is done lightly and continue to do so, until a mixture resembling fine breadcrumbs is achieved. Add small amounts of cold water at a time, and stir with a fork until a ball of pastry is formed – I find the best way to add water without it drowning the mixture is to use the drips from the cold tap that occur directly after it has been turned off! Cover the pastry, and place in the fridge until later.
- Once the beans are cooked, drain, and return the now empty pan to the hob. Add a small drizzle of olive oil, and fry the onion and garlic until softened and slightly browned. Remove from the hob, and place the beans back in the pan alongside the onion and garlic mixture.
- Now that the sweet potato is tender, remove from the oven, and stir in the beans, onion and garlic. Sprinkle in the torn pieces of mozzarella, and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
- Remove the pastry from the fridge – roll out on a floured side until thin, and then drape on top of the pie dish. Pinch round the edges of the dish (being careful if it is still hot!), until the pastry is securely in place.
- Place the pie in the oven, and bake for 15 minutes further, or until the pastry is golden brown.
- Serve with a green side salad, and enjoy the party!