lamb at easter is a bit of a cliché in the uk but having a freezer full of the stuff (it amazes me how this sort of thing happens, no doubt as a result of running out and then constantly thinking “i must stock up”) meant that it was a stereotype that i was conform to.
inevitably, i wasn’t willing to embrace tradition completely, instead we had this delicious north-african inspired pie. it was good. it was really good. in fact, this is possible one of the best things i’ve made this year so if you’re a lamb fan and fancy something a little different i suggest you try this out.
aubergine, lamb and feta pie with pomegranate (serves 4)
25g pine nuts
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 aubergine, cut into 2cm cubes
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 red onion, thinly sliced
500g lamb mince
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon oregano
4 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoons tomato puree
1 handful fresh chopped mint
200g feta cheese, crumbled
salt and freshly ground black pepper
100g filo pastry (4 large sheets)
preheat the oven to 200c.
using a non-stick pan, fry the pine nuts (don’t add any oil) until they turn golden and are lightly toasted. put them in a large mixing bowl.
heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and cook the aubergine until it softens and starts to turn golden – about 10 minutes. add them to the pine nuts.
heat the remaining olive oil and fry the garlic, chilli and onion until they begin to soften. add the mince and cook until it browns. add the cinnamon, oregano, pomegranate molasses and tomato puree and cook for 5 minutes (if there is any excess liquid in the pan, turn the heat up and boil this away, you don’t want a sloppy mixture).
in the mixing bowl, add the mince to the pine nuts and aubergine. stir in the mint and feta cheese. season to taste.
melt the butter and use this to brush one side of each sheet of filo pastry (do one at a time so they don’t dry out). place these, buttered side down, in a cake tin (c20cm, with a removable base), in overlapping layers, so that the bottom and sides are covered and the edges drape over the edges of the tin (you’ll need to bring these together to cover the top of the pie).
when the pastry is ready, fill the pie with your mince mixture, pressing down firmly. fold the over-hanging pastry into the centre to cover the mince and carefully brush this with any leftover melted butter.
bake for 40minutes, until the topping is golden and the pie-filling hot. we ate this with harissa-roasted tomatoes and garlicky green beans, which worked really well.