Friday, November 27, 2020


I must admit, I have a soft spot for pies, both sweet and savoury. I find them quite comforting and almost nostalgic. Other than that, they usually come together rather quickly, and you can enjoy them in an hour or so, making them perfect for a busy weekday meal.
This is one of the savoury pies I have been making for over 15 years, and next to my Cottage cheese hand pies, a firm family favourite. Rich, golden, crispy, and wonderfully hearty, with plenty of flaky Filo layers, lots of smoked ham, and an abundance of cheese, this is a true colder weather classic.
Ruffled pastry sheets will make the pie billowy and give it a bit more texture, so do make sure they are nicely ruffled and that the cheese is evenly distributed.
Speaking of cheese, be cautious with the amount of salt, and take into consideration how salty the cheese and ham are. Taste and adjust the seasoning of the tomato sauce before preparing the pie; and as always, start with less seasoning, because you can always add more.
It will look incredibly tempting as soon as it comes out of the oven, but do let it rest for a few minutes; it will be easier to slice and enjoy. Serve it with some additional pizza sauce of your choice, a thick yoghurt dip, or if you like spicy food, with some hot sauce and fresh soured cream.

For the olive oil dressing
100 millilitres light olive oil
200 millilitres water
For the tomato sauce
250 grams tomato passata
10 grams tomato paste
15 millilitres extra virgin olive oil
15 grams brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 heaping teaspoon dried oregano
For the filling
300 grams smoked ham, minced
300 grams Mozzarella, shredded
100 grams Gouda, shredded
16 Filo pastry sheets, 500 grams

Start by making the tomato sauce. Add the tomato passata into a medium bowl, add in the tomato paste, and whisk it really well. Add in the rest of the sauce ingredients, and mix until combined. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning if needed, by adding a bit more salt or sugar.
For the dressing, add both the water and the oil into a saucepan, and place it over high heat. Let it come to a rolling boil, and remove from the heat.
To make the layered pie, start by brushing the bottom and sides of a large round baking pan (30 cm in diameter) with the olive oil and water mixture. This will prevent the pie from sticking to the pan, while still having very crispy bottom and sides. Place four filo sheets in a cross manner onto the baking sheet, covering the bottom completely, and letting the top half of the sheets hang over the sides of the pan. This will be used later to be folded over and cover the top of the pie.
Generously drizzle the olive oil dressing over the filo sheets, or brush using a pastry brush, and then spread one fourth of the tomato sauce evenly all over it. Add one fourth of the ham and cheese filling, spreading it as evenly as you can.
Take four Filo sheets and either tear them up with your hands or chop them up roughly with a sharp knife, and add the shreds on top of the filling. Ruffle them as you place them onto the filling to create more texture. Again, generously drizzle with the olive oil dressing, and spread another fourth of the tomato sauce on top. This can also be done by putting the sauce into a squeeze bottle, if that is easier to handle. Place another fourth of the ham and cheese filling.
Repeat this two more times, until you use up all of the Filo pastry, all of the tomato sauce, and all of the filling. The final layer will be the ham and cheese. Gently fold over the pastry that was hanging from the sides of the pan, to completely cover the filling, and then generously brush it with the dressing. Bake the pie immediately, in a preheated oven, at 220°C, for about 20-25 minutes, or until baked through and crispy. Remove from the oven and let it cool down slightly, then slice into four generous pieces, and serve immediately. Yields 4 servings.