This recipe is based off a dish at my favourite restaurant, Rainbow Cafe, which is in Cambridge and sells vegetarian and vegan food. They make vegan cheesecake that doesn’t taste vegan, as well as the vegetarian cheesy one, and their specials list of desserts changes EVERY DAY. To put in perspective how many times I’ve been to this cafe, they actually have a picture from my wedding in a scrapbook of regular customers. Anyway, at the Rainbow they serve this amazing pastry creation stuffed with artichoke, which is well enough, but really for a while I just wanted to know how they did it. A filo pastry parcel that looks beautiful and fragile and is stuffed with goodness. How does it stay together in the oven? The answer: so easily. Filo pastry is one of those things that looks really hard to work with until you actually do it and then you realise it was a conspiracy. This dish is easy. I changed it quite a lot, because when I made it I just really wanted to eat lots of vegetables covered in pastry and didn’t really think about protein. Next time I’d make it exactly the same, but I’d put a piece of grilled fish next to it. Or serve it as a starter and have people think I’m really fancy.
3 sheets of filo pastry
335g cherry tomatoes
50g pesto (I used my own, which is lower calorie)
2 tbsp olive oil
Serves 2, easily multiplied
Takes 50 minutes to make
Stage one: Preheat the oven to 190C/fan170C. Put the cherry tomatoes in a roasting tin, puncture each of them with a knife, and put them in the oven for 30 minutes. Alternatively, core, de-seed and roughly chop an equal weight of any other kind of tomato.
Stage two: Wilt the spinach by putting it in a colander and pouring boiling water over the top. Then wait for it to cool and squeeze out as much water as possible.
Stage three: When the tomatoes are roasted, give them a stir so that all the seeds squirt out of them. They’ll now form a liquid around the flesh of the tomatoes. Pour it away. Then mix in the wilted spinach and pesto, and season.
Stage four: This is the bit that can get a bit fiddly. Lay the 3 filo sheets on top of each other, and then halve them so they form 6 squares. Lay them in a kind of triangle so that half of each one overlaps in the centre, and brush with olive oil. Dollop half of the vegetable mix in the middle, and then wrap the pastry around it so that it meets at the top. You’ll find that it actually stays together really easily. Brush the outside of the case with olive oil, and then bake for 12-15 minutes.