When the new pieminister cookbook landed on my door mat my husband thought he was in heaven. A cookbook full of pies! When I said I was making the smoked aubergine and olive strudel however he was somewhat disappointed. Now he isn’t one of these men who thinks a meal isn’t complete without meat, we eat plenty of fish or vegetable based meals (& often at his request) but somehow a pie without meat was unthinkable. So I knew this recipe had to be good.
We have an electric hob/oven so unfortunately charring the aubergine to get the smoked flavour was not an option. Other than that I found this recipe straight forward to cook. It took me a little longer than I expected (but I think I tend to underestimate how long each step takes). All the same I enjoyed cooking this pie as much as I enjoyed eating it.
Thankfully this dish was delicious and even my husband was won over (although he still looks longingly at the meat pies in the cookbook). Its full of flavour and if you have a gas burner to char your aubergine on I imagine it will be even better.
A review of this cookbook and your chance to win a copy of the book coming up in the next few days.
If you want to make your own preserved olives, I have a recipe here.
smoked aubergine & olive strudel
2 tbsp olive oil, plus a little extra for cooking the spinach
1 red onion, cut into 8 wedges
1 green pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground allspice
200g cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 tbsp honey
2 small preserved lemons, flesh removed, skin chopped
100g green olives, chopped
1 heaped tbsp extra-thick Greek yoghurt
5 sheets of filo pastry
125g unsalted butter, melted
sea salt and black pepper
- Prick a few small holes in the aubergine, put it over a gas burner and leave for 10–15 minutes, until blackened all over, turning regularly (you can also do this under the grill or you can roast the aubergine in the oven at 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6 for about 20 minutes until soft; it won’t taste smoky, though).
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a small pan, add the onion, green pepper, garlic and cumin seeds and cook gently for 8–10 minutes, until the vegetables are starting to turn golden. Stir in the ground allspice and cook for a minute or so longer. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Peel the blackened skin off the aubergine – it doesn’t matter if there is a little left on. Roughly chop the flesh and stir it into the onion mixture. Add the tomatoes, honey, preserved lemons and green olives.
- Heat a large saucepan, add a drizzle of oil, then add the spinach and some salt and pepper. Cook briefly over a medium heat until wilted, then transfer to a colander and gently press out excess liquid. Add the spinach to the aubergine mixture, together with the Greek yoghurt. Season with salt and pepper – you probably won’t need much salt because of the preserved lemon and olives.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.
- Place a sheet of filo pastry on a damp tea towel and brush with melted butter. Place another sheet of filo on top and brush with more butter. Repeat with the remaining filo and butter to make a stack of filo sheets.
- Spread the aubergine filling along one short end of the pastry, taking it almost to the edges. Roll the pastry around the filling, using the tea towel to help you roll, and tucking in the pastry at the sides once or twice as you go. Turn it so the seam is underneath and brush all over with melted butter.
- Place on a buttered baking sheet and bake for 25–30 minutes, until golden. Remove from the oven and brush with a little more melted butter. Serve warm or cold.