Meera Sodha’s vegan recipe for leek, cabbage and spinach filo pie

I’ve always enjoyed the green pies of Greece, hortopita and spanakopita. The audacity to squeeze as many leafy greens into a meal as possible is something that resonates with me. Having been brought up on various Indian saag dishes, I am used to seeing pan-defying amounts of robust, thriving leaves wilt down to form extraordinarily gentle and flavourful meals. And although this recipe isn’t a recipe for a Greek pie, it was inspired by one and was an attempt to fit as many greens (of sorts) into a pie with an enjoyable result.

Leek, white cabbage and spinach pie
If you don’t have this particular mix of vegetables, herbs and nuts, treat this recipe as a template and use what you have to hand instead. You’ll need either a round pie dish or a non-stick, oven-friendly frying pan.

Prep 20 min
Cook 1 hr 20 min
Serves 4-6

4 tbsp rapeseed oil, plus extra for brushing
1 red onion, peeled and finely sliced
½ white cabbage, finely shredded (500g prepared weight)
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 leeks, trimmed and cut into thin rings (450g prepared weight)
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1¼ tsp salt
400g baby leaf spinach
50g pine nuts
40g parsley leaves, finely chopped
20g dill leaves, finely chopped
1½ tbsp lemon juice
6 sheets filo pastry (suitable for vegans)
1 tbsp black sesame seeds, to decorate

In a large frying pan for which you have a lid, heat the oil over a medium to high heat until hot. Add the onion, fry, stirring, for five minutes, then add the cabbage and a tablespoon of water. Stir everything together, then pop on the lid and leave to cook for five minutes, until the cabbage and onion are both soft. Add the garlic and leeks, and cook for a further 10 minutes, stirring every now and then, until the leeks unravel.

Stir in the spices and salt, turn the heat down low and add the spinach, handful by handful – it will eventually reluctantly behave and wilt down, but it may take some time. Once the spinach has wilted, stir in the pine nuts, herbs and lemon juice, and cook for five to eight minutes, until the spinach has settled into the mix and the water at the bottom of the pan has reduced to a trace. Take off the heat, taste to check the seasoning and leave to cool.

Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6. To build the pie, brush the inside of your chosen baking dish generously with oil and gently lay in a sheet of filo, allowing the excess pastry to hang over the sides. Brush with a little oil, then lay another sheet of filo over the top at a slight angle to its predecessor. Moving in a clockwise direction, repeat until all the pastry sheets have been used up.

Squash the filling against the sides of the frying pan to remove any excess liquid, then spoon it into the filo-lined dish and even out with the back of a spoon. Fold the overhanging pastry over the top of the filling, crumpling it a little to add height and texture to the pie. Brush all over with more oil, scatter 0ver the sesame seeds and pop into the oven for 30 minutes, until the filo is golden and crisp.

Remove from the oven, leave to cool, then slice into generous portions and serve warm or at room temperature.