belinda jeffery's recipes
My recipes are easy. They’re for the food I like to eat. Simple, fresh, full of flavour and just a bit different. You certainly don't need any great cooking skills for them, you just need to like food and like eating – just like me. The rest is simple.
zucchini, feta and dill ‘pie’
This ‘pie’ is very simple and straightforward and makes a remarkably good meal with a platter of sliced ripe tomatoes drizzled with good extra-virgin olive oil and a big bowl of salad greens. More often than not I serve it on a scrubbed wooden board, however, if you want to smarten it up a bit and you happen to have a large square white platter, then sit it on this as this as it looks really quite swish. It’s also handy to know that the recipe doubles well; you just need to bake it in a larger tin.
Fine polenta, for dusting the tin
700g zucchini, coarsely grated
5 x 60g eggs
½ cup (125ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing
1 cup chopped chives
½ cup chopped dill or mint or basil
150g freshly grated parmesan
sea salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup (150g) self-raising flour
8-12 cherry tomatoes, halved
mint leaves or sprigs, to serve
Preheat your oven to 180C. Butter a 22cm square cake tin and line the base and sides with buttered baking paper. Dust the tin with the polenta, tap out the excess, and set it aside.
Pile the grated zucchini into a large sieve or colander, sit a plate on top to weigh it down a little and leave to drain.
Meanwhile, break the eggs into a large bowl and whisk them together. Add the oil, chives and dill, mint or basil and whisk them in.
Press down firmly on the plate over the zucchini to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Stir the grated zucchini into the egg mixture. Crumble in most of the feta (reserving a little for the top of the pie) along with the parmesan, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the flour and mix it in until it is combined (I often slip disposable prep gloves on and mix this by hand, as it gets quite thick). Spread the batter into the prepared tin and sprinkle the reserved feta over the top. Gently press the cherry tomato halves, cut side up, into the surface.
Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the top of the pie is springy when pressed. I discovered on my first attempt at making this that it’s a bit hard to know when it’s cooked. It seemed ready after 30 minutes but when I took it out and let it cool a little I realised it was still squishy in the centre, so I put it back in the oven for another 15 minutes (thank goodness it’s forgiving!). So when you think it’s cooked, make sure the top is quite bouncy, and to double-check, insert the tip of a fine knife down into the middle and press the two sides of the cut apart - it should look quite set.
When it’s ready, take the pie out of the oven and cool it in the tin for 10 -15 minutes. If you’re feeling game you can just gently grasp the baking paper and lift the pie out of the tin onto a serving plate, then slide the paper out from underneath. Or, put a wire rack on top and invert the pie onto the rack. Peel away the paper, then sit your serving platter on top of the pie and invert it again onto this. Tidy up any straggly bits and brush the tomatoes with a little oil. Scatter some mint leaves or sprigs on top.
I think this is best eaten at room temperature when the flavour has had a chance to develop. Leftovers keep really well in the fridge for a couple of days. Serves 6.
the pie also makes a terrific nibble to have with drinks…
Just press more cherry tomatoes over the top so when you cut it into little squares you end up with a tomato half on each one. Sit a tiny herb leaf on top and line them up on a platter.
© Copyright Belinda Jeffery 2007. This recipe and photograph are protected by copyright laws and written permission from the author must be obtained to re-use them in any form of media.