Layered squash, barley & spinach pie

Layered squash, barley & spinach pie

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(20 ratings)

Prep: 40 mins Cook: 2 hrs, 40 mins

Moderately easy

Serves 4 - 8
A spectacular veggie Christmas centrepiece - when sliced, it looks stunning, and the flavours go brilliantly with all your favourite trimmings

Nutrition and extra info

  • Vegetarian

Nutrition: per serving (8)

  • kcal889
  • fat49g
  • saturates24g
  • carbs99g
  • sugars13g
  • fibre0g
  • protein19g
  • salt1.31g
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For the filling

  • 1 small butternut squash (about 1kg/2lb 4oz), peeled and cubed
  • 3 tbsp olive oil, plus a little extra for brushing

    Olive oil

    ol-iv oyl

    Probably the most widely-used oil in cooking, olive oil is pressed from fresh olives. It's…

  • 3 onion, finely chopped



    Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…

  • 3 garlic clove, crushed
  • 100g mushroom, sliced



    The mushroom is a fungus which comes in a wide range of varieties that belong to two distinct…

  • 85g whole cooked chestnut, quartered



    'Chestnuts roasting on an open fire...' that kitsch old Nat King Cole song perfectly…

  • 100g pearl barley
  • 1.2l vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce

    Soy sauce

    soy sor-s

    An Asian condiment and ingredient that comes in a variety of of varieties ranging from light to…

  • zest 1 lemon



    Oval in shape, with a pronouced bulge on one end, lemons are one of the most versatile fruits…

  • 250g/9oz tub ricotta



    Ricotta is an Italian curd cheese. Made from whey, it is traditionally a by-product of making…

  • 200g full-fat soft cheese
  • ½ x 20g/1oz pack sage, leaves picked and chopped



    Popular in both Italian and British cookery, sage has long, grey-green leaves with a slightly…

  • 400g baby spinach
  • 20g pack parsley, leaves chopped



    One of the most ubiquitous herbs in British cookery, parsley is also popular in European and…

For the pastry

  • 700g plain flour
  • 140g butter



    Butter is made when lactic-acid producing bacteria are added to cream and churned to make an…

  • 85g/3oz white vegetable shortening (we used Trex)
  • 100ml milk



    One of the most widely used ingredients, milk is often referred to as a complete food. While cow…

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten



    The ultimate convenience food, eggs are powerhouses of nutrition, packed with protein and a…

  • few bay leaves (optional)

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  1. Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6 and roast the butternut squash with 1 tbsp oil for 25-30 mins until tender, then set aside.

  2. Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in a large pan and cook the onions and garlic for 10 mins until soft. Remove two-thirds, then add the mushrooms, chestnuts and pearl barley to the pan. Sizzle for a few mins, pour in the stock, then bring to the boil. Bubble fiercely for 30 mins until the barley is tender and sticky and there is no liquid left. Stir in the soy sauce, season and set aside.

  3. While the barley layer is cooking, make the other layers. Stir the zest, ricotta, soft cheese and a good amount of seasoning into the reserved onions until smooth. Take a third of the mixture and gently fold with the sage and roasted squash. For the final layer, boil the kettle, then tip half the spinach into a large colander. Pour over the boiling water to wilt, then repeat with the rest of the spinach. Tip the spinach onto a clean tea towel and squeeze out all the moisture you can. Roughly chop, then mix into the remaining ricotta mixture with the parsley.

  4. To make the pie, brush a 900g loaf tin with a little oil. Make 3 long triplelayer strips of foil and lay these across the width of the tin to help you lift out the pie to serve. Tip flour and 3 tsp salt into the largest bowl you have and gently melt the butter, shortening and milk with 200ml water in a pan. Once melted, increase heat until bubbling fiercely, tip onto the flour, then quickly beat with a wooden spoon until combined. Don’t worry if some powdery bits remain. Once cool enough to handle, knead until it comes together, then tip onto your work surface. Set aside a third and roll the rest into a large rectangle – big enough to line the tin with a little overhanging.

  5. Ease into the tin, pressing evenly into the corners and sides – you can be rough with it. Spoon in the spinach layer, smooth the surface, then repeat with the barley and finally the squash layer. Dome the squash mix slightly to give a rounded top. Roll out the remaining pastry to fit, brush the edges with some 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 (add bay leaves, if using, when the pie has 30 mins left in the oven). Can be covered and chilled overnight.

  6. Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6 and put a large baking sheet inside. Brush the surface of the pie with egg, lift onto the heated baking tray and bake for 30 mins, then reduce the heat to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4 and bake for a further 1 hr 30 mins until the pastry is golden brown and feels hard. Stand for 15-20 mins while you get the rest of the meal ready – the pie will stay warm. Gently tip out the pie, or use the foil strips to lift out carefully. Carry to the table and slice thickly to serve.

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Comments (43)

bess190's picture

This is a great pie, though very heavy! Also i found that the quantities here are totally off for the pastry- there is almost enough for two pies. It would be helpful to have the thickness of the pasrty stated. Thanks.

kellyesue's picture

This recipe is actually pretty involved, but by god, is it worth the effort. Did it as my veggie Xmas main, amazingly delicious.

laurajallen's picture

Very time consuming, but oh so tasty :)

lynnathon's picture

Brilliant for our Veggie table, went down well and was even nicer warmed up the following day. I changed the recipe to suit - see comments below. It is easy to make just a little time consuming - I made it Christmas Eve and then just put it in the fridge till cooking time - yummy.

I couldn't find Veggie ricotta cheese so I used 1/2 fat soft cheese instead and I only put half the cheese in. The lemon gave a nice citrus taste but again I only used half as I thought a whole lemon would be overpowering - glad I did as it was a subtle mild flavour.

I didn't use the salt in the pastry and I didn't put the Soy sauce in the barley as I felt the stock cubes added enough salt to the dish.

I recommend leaving out the added salt as it would have been very salty indeed.


annapie's picture

I made this last year and it was really tasty. I quite enjoyed all the stages of making it but got more guests this year so Im thinking of cooking it the day before i.e tomorrow...I used ready made pastry short cut to save on time and calories.

grandmagrandad's picture

having decided on this for xmas lunch i am now having second thoughts with the amount of preparation and variety of comments on using pearl barley, maybe red lentils would be a better option.

louthholidayhome's picture

tried this before Xmas, fortunately. A deeply unpleasant texture.

aimee_cm's picture

Though it did taste great it was ultimately just a bit time consuming to make. I did use ready made short crust, which did make it less of a fuss, but there are so many parts to this recipe, I wouldn't recommend trying to make it all in one go on the day you want to eat it...

But our veggie contingent were appreciative and it went well with traditional roast accompaniments. It is also quite filling.

lawardrop's picture

What is the fiber count per serving - the nutritional listing on the printed out recipe list 0g fiber & with this much barley & vegetables, that cannot be right.

vspence's picture

Have made this twice making 2 pies each time, first time practice, second for Christmas. Although it looks great it doesn't slice easily because it is a hard crust, only the first end slice looks like the photo. As much as I like the ingredients, the barley component was interesting and there was the novelty of pork pie type pastry but it didn't really hit the spot for me. Most of the crust was not eaten though the filling was popular. It DOES NOT freeze well - that is don't keep in the freezer for more than a short period. We recently had the second pie left over from Christmas 'to clear out the freezer' and we all had a good clear out too! Oh, and it is a huge amount of work to prepare.

kimsla's picture

Made this last Xmas for my veggie daughter & her husband, alth very time consuming, made day before and warmed through on Xmas, went down well with no complaints.

cusack22's picture

Made this for veggie sister at christmas, used bought short crust pastry instead. Tasted great, will make again.

heather_simcock's picture

I made this again on New Years day & missed the lemon out & it was amazing!!!!
I used 2 normal loaf tins thinking I could use the 2nd pie the next day but they were both eaten on the night!! (10 of us & the meat eaters got stuck in)
Will deffo make again, (without lemon) for special occasion.

annelisarkanen's picture

I made this for Christmas dinner. I cheated on the pastry and used the pre-made stuff from the supermarket. I had a little too much of the pearl barley mixture to fit in but I guess it can just be used for a soup later on. Thought it was a good recipe, if a little time consuming to make. I also had to re-read the recipe several times to get it all right.

jaznpaul's picture

Yep, I to followed the recipie but thought the squash looked too much before putting it in the oven so only cooked half - was glad I did as I found it turned to mush when mixed so threw in the uncooked stuff too when held it's shape much better. I made 2 x 2lb loaf tins. It was nice enough - but I wouldn't rush to make it again, just couldn't face all the washing up.......

maisydog's picture

We used sweet potato instead of squash. It just about fitted into a 2Kg loaf tin and that seems to be enough for a small army. We managed to use about 1/4 on Christmas day (4 people). It was very hard to cut so that the slices remained intact and it wasn't much better to cut on Boxing day.
It wasn't very difficult to make and the pastry, while being extremely short was great. (There again my daughter and husband would eat old boots if they were in pastry!) All in all an interesting main course that looked just as good as in the picture and went well with the usual Christmas veg that the turkey eaters had.

mandagraham's picture

Final report... the pie was very tasty thought the pastry was very salty. I would only use 1 tsp next time and possibly my own recipe as I wasn't that impressed with this one.

Though it was a complicated recipe I prepared all the layers simultaniously and so didn't think that was too bad.

As the fillings have made double quantities I am looking forward to making this again without the salt in the crust as it does ruin it a bit.

mandagraham's picture

Have just finished making this and have used the right size tin but still have half the mixture remaining. Not too upset as I have frozen it all to make into a pie another day.

Definately, make your own pastry, this was so flaky I couldn't get it to stick together and so had to add extra milk.

Will report back after Xmas dinner - all the layers tasted good separately so I imagine they will taste as good, if not better, together.

nixkitz's picture

I used the recipe for inspiration rather than following it to the letter - if nothing else than because our meal was calorific enough without all that cheese! Did my own pastry recipe and made enough to fill a 8" square tin. Bottom layer spinach, middle layer pearl barley, garlic, chestnuts, mushrooms, onion and a touch of milk and top layer of butternut squash. Was delicious hot and lovely cold the following day (though we discarded the cold pastry).

mandagraham's picture

I've just run a search on the internet and the 900g loaf tin for sale on Amazon gives the dimesions. Very glad I looked as the tin I have is also too small and am plannign to make this for my Christmas dinner.

It does look like a pretty complicated recepie, will report back when I've had a go.


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