This traditional Greek spinach and feta cheese pie gets a healthier makeover - we've slashed the fat, salt and calories
- 500g fresh spinach
- 3 tbsp rapeseed oil
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 6 spring onions, ends trimmed, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- generous pinch of ground nutmeg
- 200g ricotta
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 2 tbsp chopped dill, plus 1 rounded tsp
- 2 tbsp snipped chives
- 2 tsp chopped mint
- 5 sheets filo pastry (each about 46 x 25cm and about 250g total weight)
- 100g feta
- minted yogurt dip (see tip), to serve (optional)
- tomato, cucumber & pepper salad (see tip), to serve (optional)
MethodPour boiling water over and press the spinach down with a wooden spoon. Leave for 1 min to wilt, stirring a couple of times so all the leaves are submerged. Tip into a large colander and place under running cold water to cool quickly. Drain well – squeeze out any excess water by pressing the spinach down with the wooden spoon, then squeezing with your hands. Using kitchen paper, pat the spinach dry into a compact shape, lay it on a board and roughly chop, then set aside.
- 4 tbsp golden caster sugar
- 1 tbsp custard powder
- 1 tbsp cornflour
- 200ml semi-skimmed milk
- 2 large egg yolks
- 125ml single cream
- 1 vanilla pod
- 140g half-fat crème fraîche
- Stir 2 tbsp of the sugar, the custard powder and cornflour in a medium bowl with 2 tbsp of the milk to make a smooth paste. Beat in the egg yolks with a fork until well combined. Pour the remaining milk into a pan, preferably non-stick, then pour in the cream. Slit the vanilla pod lengthways and scrape the seeds into the milk. Drop the pod into the pan and bring the creamy milk just to the boil – as soon as you see a few bubbles rising to the surface, remove from the heat.
- Slowly pour and stir the hot milk into the cornflour mix, including the vanilla pod, making sure the yolks are well blended in. Transfer to a clean pan. Cook over a low heat, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon, for about 15-20 mins until the mixture is very thick – when you drag the spoon across the bottom of the pan, it should leave a clean line. It should be much thicker after about 10 mins, but keep stirring until the mixture has thickened sufficiently to look like softly whipped cream or mayonnaise. Keep adjusting the heat so that the mixture does not come to the boil or overheat, as it may curdle and become lumpy. If this happens, beat the mixture smooth with a wire whisk.
- Remove from the heat, transfer to a bowl and leave to cool for 15-20 mins, stirring occasionally to prevent a skin from forming. Remove the vanilla pod. Stir in the crème fraîche and divide the mixture between 4 small ramekins (about 125-150ml capacity each). Spread the mixtures level, then chill, uncovered, overnight. By not covering them, a thin skin can form on top of the brûlées, which will help support the caramel layer.
- Before serving, spoon the remaining sugar over the top of each brûlée (allow 1½ tsp per ramekin) and smooth over with the back of the spoon. To caramelise, use a blowtorch. Hold the flame just above the sugar and keep it moving until evenly caramelised (don’t take too long or you will heat up the custard too much). If the custard looks as though it has softened slightly, put the ramekins in the fridge for 5-10 mins to firm it up again. Serve while the caramel is still brittle.
- 100g couscous
- 2 carrots, finely grated
- 250g pack extra-lean lamb mince
- bunch spring onions, finely chopped
- 1 bunch fresh mint, finely chopped
- 1 egg, beaten
- rocket leaves and raita or natural yogurt, to serve
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 750g sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chips
- 1-2 tsp smoked paprika
- Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. For the chips, pour the oil into a shallow, non-stick roasting tin and heat in the oven. Add sweet potatoes, stir around until coated with oil, then roast for 25 mins. Add paprika, shake to coat, then roast for 10 mins more until cooked through.
- Meanwhile, make the burgers. Place the couscous in a heatproof bowl and pour over 100ml boiling water. Leave for a couple of mins until all the liquid has been absorbed. Squeeze any liquid out of the carrots, then stir into the couscous along with the mince, spring onions, mint and egg. Season well.
- Shape the mixture into 4 large burgers. Transfer to a non-stick baking sheet, then cook in the oven for 20 mins until browned and cooked right through. Alternatively, grill under a high heat (or on the barbecue, if the weather is nice enough) for 6-8 mins on each side.
- Divide the chips between 4 plates and place a burger on each plate. Serve with a plain leaf salad such as rocket alongside and some raita or yogurt spooned over, if you like.
- 140g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 50g butter, cut into pieces
- 2 tsp cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp icing sugar
- 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
- 1 medium egg yolk
- half-fat crème fraîche, to serve (optional)
- 100g dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids, very finely chopped
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder, plus extra ½ tsp for sifting
- ¾ tsp coffee granules
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp semi-skimmed milk
- 2 medium egg whites
- 2 tbsp dark muscovado sugar
- 85g half-fat crème fraîche
- Tip the flour into a mixing bowl and remove 2 tsp (the cocoa will replace it later). Add the butter and rub into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Sift in the cocoa and icing sugar, then, using a round-bladed knife, stir in the oil, egg yolk and 1½-2 tbsp cold water, until the dough comes together. Gently gather into a ball, then roll out on a lightly floured surface, big enough to fit a 20cm round x 3.5cm-deep loose-bottomed flan tin. Ease the pastry into the tin, leaving a slight overhang. Lightly prick the base with a fork, then chill for about 10 mins.
- Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Sit tin on a baking sheet. Line the pastry with foil and fill with baking beans. Blind-bake for 15 mins or until set. Carefully lift out the beans and paper, then bake the pastry case for another 10 mins or until the base is cooked. Remove, carefully trim off the overhanging pastry with a sharp knife, to give the pastry a flat edge, then leave until completely cold.
- To make the filling, put the chocolate in a large bowl that will fit over a pan of simmering water without touching it. Mix the cocoa, coffee and vanilla with the milk. Pour over the chocolate. Sit the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, stir, then immediately remove pan from the heat, with the bowl of chocolate still over the water, stirring occasionally, to check when melted. Stir the melted chocolate – it will be quite thick. Stir in 2 tbsp boiling water and the chocolate will immediately thin down and become silky smooth. Take the bowl off the pan and leave to cool slightly.
- Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks, then whisk in the sugar until thick and glossy. Fold the créme fraîche into the cooled chocolate. Fold one-third of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture using a large metal spoon, then very gently fold in the remaining whites, a third at a time, until evenly mixed in. Remove the pastry case from the tin and place on a serving plate. Spoon the filling into the case, then spread out gently and evenly. Chill for about 3 hours, or overnight, before serving. Serve with a sifting of cocoa and half-fat créme fraîche, if you like. Please note, pregnant women, the elderly, babies and toddlers, and people who are generally unwell, should avoid eating raw or partially cooked eggs.