Layered squash, barley & spinach pie

Layered squash, barley & spinach pie

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(21 ratings)

Prep: 40 mins Cook: 2 hrs, 40 mins

More effort

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

      Olive oil

      ol-iv oyl

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

    • 3 onions, finely chopped



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

    • 3 garlic cloves, 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 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 cheese made from whey and traditionally a by-product of…

    • 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)


    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, questions and tips

    Sign in or create your My Good Food account to join the discussion.
    25th Dec, 2012
    Very sucessful Christmas dinner today! Went perfect with the "make ahead gravy" and a selection of roasted veg. I took the advise of previous comments and made half the quantity. Fitted nicely into my bread tin. Had enough for 4 generous portions. Also got frozen ready made pastry which cut down on some work. Will make again. Lovely.
    25th Dec, 2012
    A lot of ingredients first time ever cooking something like this the presses is long but well worth it very filling and light filled the loaf tin perfect just cut the ingredients in half will do it again
    25th Nov, 2012
    I turned these into individual pies using shop bought shortcrust, as my pastry is only good for building extensions. A bit of a faff to make but tasted good enough. Used fine lemon zest rather than juice (see why below) and chucked in a handful of pine nuts and twice as much parsley. I may use bulgar wheat next time instead of barley. Check your ricotta tub. It may not be veggie-friendly. I made my own cottage cheese with soy milk and lemon juice... Hmm. Maybe I'll use Philly next time!
    7th Oct, 2012
    I make this every year for our Xmas dinner, since about half of my family are vegetarian. It's great! It takes a bit of effort to make, but it's definitely worth it. Looks gorgeous too. :D
    14th May, 2012
    I made this for Christmas 2011 and it was a hit with my partner and the rest of my family. I cheated and used the pastry from the supermarket and I was left a little short but it was tasty regardless. Next time I make it, the preparation shouldn't take too long. Thoroughly enjoyed it. It was fairly long winded and I did have to re-read most of the directions. Would love if a video of all the recipes were included as well.
    16th Jan, 2012
    I made this pie for a vegetarian friend on Christmas. It took longer to make and cook than the turkey but was so worth it! Carnivores in the family enjoyed it also. This recipe will stay as part of our Christmas menu for sure.
    3rd Jan, 2012
    I made this for my (vegetarian) sister's Christmas dinner. It was a bit fiddly and took a while to prepare but more than worth it. It actually made enough for 2 pies so was a welcome addition to a Christmas Eve buffet lunch. The pastry was superb, really easy and the nicest I have ever cooked, I will use the pastry recipe in any savoury pies in the future, lovely light and crisp
    3rd Jan, 2012
    I made this as the veggie option for myself and one other veggie for a family roast dinner. It went really well with all the roast trimmings and everyone (including the meat eaters) really enjoyed it. I cheated and used shop-bought shortcrust pastry and this worked fine. I had a little bit of the filling ingredients leftover, but not much at all (enough for a taste to check it was all OK!). I found it easy to make, it's just takes time and creates a lot of washing up because you have to make all the different layers in separate stages. I thought using ready made pastry would reduce the preparation time and I'm glad I did this. But I would definitely make it again... and was asked for the recipe by everyone who tried it.
    24th Dec, 2011
    Always worrying when someone cannot even get something as basic as the ingredient quantities right. I have just made this for Xmas and had enough to do two pies. I used the correct size of tin so not that. We cannot eat two of them so half the ingredients went in the bin. It looks yummy but I will check the reviews before I try another recipe from this site.
    22nd Dec, 2011
    I made this last year for Christmas dinner, it was such a success I have had requests to repeat it. I did end up with 2 loaf tins (my tins weren't huge) of pie which wasn't a bad thing as it is super yummy a day after. Really good flavour combinations and the lemon gives a really fresh kick to the dish. Lovely.


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