Julia Busuttil Nishimura's Spinach, Haloumi and Feta Pie
Welcome to Put on a Spread, a recipe series that takes you inside the kitchens – and dining rooms – of some of our favourite home cooks. For this instalment, cookbook author and food writer Julia Busuttil Nishimura shares the recipe for her ultimate herby spinach, haloumi and feta pie.
The humble pie is underrated. Deceptively easy to make, hearty and filling to eat, it's a super comforting dish to serve for a relaxed weekend lunch or to bring along to a barbecue.
Here, Julia Bussutil Nishimura takes inspiration from a traditional Greek Spanakopita to create a spinach, haloumi, and feta pie. With handfuls of dill and parsley thrown in, it's deliciously herby and really delivers on flavour. That, coupled with a buttery pastry that flakes off on your fork and the decadent ooze of the cheesy filling, makes it hard not to reach for a second slice.
Julia's top tip? Be sure to take your time when cooking the onions and garlic as they really create a sweetness and richness for the filling.
For the herb, spinach and cheese filling:
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 1tsp cumin seeds
- 400g baby spinach
- 2 tsp sea salt
- Large handful each of dill and parsley, roughly chopped
- 150g haloumi, grated
- 150g feta, crumbled
- 150g firm ricotta
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- Sea salt and black pepper
- 10 sheets filo pastry
- 150g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
- 1 tbsp white sesame seeds
Preheat the oven to 180C. Butter a 28cm round baking dish.
Warm the olive oil over a low-medium heat in a fry pan and gently cook the onions until soft (10 minutes), stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cumin and cook for a further 3 minutes until fragrant. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
Meanwhile, place the spinach in a colander and sprinkle over the salt, tossing to coat. Allow to sit for 10 minutes then squeeze out any excess liquid. Roughly chop and add to the onion mixture , along with the herbs, cheeses and eggs. Season generously with pepper and cautiously with salt, as the cheese and spinach already has salt. Stir to combine and set aside.
Drape one filo sheet into the prepared baking dish then brush with melted butter. Repeat this layering and brushing with four more sheets so you have five in total.
Spoon in the filling, smoothing it with the back of a wooden spoon. Top with a sheet of filo pastry and brush with melted butter. Repeat this again with the remaining sheets.
Fold in the overhanging edges of pastry and brush with more melted butter. Scatter with the sesame seeds and bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes or until golden and crisp. Serve hot from the oven.
For more from Julia, follow her at @juliaostro.