If the weather lady on North West Tonight is to be believed, Summer has finally decided to grace Liverpool with its presence. Well, you could have bloody fooled me. When I sat outside munching on my pastrami sandwich at lunchtime, there was a very pronounced ‘nip’ in the air – and my Floridian upbringing means I stubbonly refuse to stop wearing a jacket to work until there’s been 30 degree heat for three days straight. If Summer won’t come to me, I’ll just have to come to it. That’ll teach the bastard to hide its light under a bushell.
I’ve always had a bit of a strange relationship with Summer. Part of me loves it; all of those long sunshine drenched days, barbeques, and lazy afternoons spent in beer gardens putting the world to rights with my friends. But Summer has also seen me work in some of the worst temp jobs of my life (I still shudder whenever I’m in London and go past Camden Council’s headquarters on the bus), be ridiculously skint, uncerimoniously dumped and – worst of all – work in overheated stuffy offices whilst the world frolics outside my window. It’s a bit difficult to drown your sorrows in a big bowl of stodgy dumpling-filled comfort food when you’re stuck in the middle of a heatwave. Instead, you have to look to other, simpler, fresher delights.
This Leek and Feta Cheese pie has long been one of my favourite dishes to make during the warmer months. Being a strict traditionalist, I’m not sure if I’d strictly call it a pie though – it’s more like a quiche with ideas above its station. Packed with dill, indecently large hunks of feta cheese and delicious ribbons of thick greek yoghurt, it’s easy to make, and delightful to eat in huge hunks with a green salad and an icy cold glass of wine. It’s also very adaptable – in the past, I’ve made it with chard, spinach and even a glut of courgettes I’d found hiding at the back of my fridge which were threatening to form their own autonomous collective.
For this version, I’ve used tomatoes, leeks and a nice handful of wild garlic that I was lucky enough to nab off Mr. North last month (although I’d imagine that it would work just as well with ‘wet’ garlic which is in season at the moment, or any leafy green herb you find lying around at the bottom of your garden). The finished result manages to be light, filling and – best of all – remarkably tasty. I’ve also found that it goes quite well with Tracklement’s delightful Beetroot and Horseradish relish. Its earthy peppery flavour cuts through the richness of the egg and yoghurt like a sharp sweet knife, and I imagine that it’s the kind of condiment that my gefilte-fish loving Zadie would have consumed a whole jar of in record time.
So, until Summer decides to show its face in Bootle, I’ll just to find solace in seasonal foods. Or I could just turn the gas fire on and pretend I’m somewhere warm and sunny. It’s cheaper than a flight to Miami anyway.
LEEK, TOMATO AND FETA PIE
Adapted from Serious Eats
You will need:
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- A large handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 leeks, white part only, thinly sliced and washed
- salt and pepper
- 140g plain flour, sifted
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder, sifted
- 3 large eggs
- 300g greek yogurt
- 150g feta cheese, crumbled
- 4-5 leaves of wild garlic, chopped finely (you can substitute this for ordinary garlic)
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees/gas mark 5. Pour the oil into a saucepan set over medium heat. Add the leeks and tomatoes, and cook for five minutes until the leeks turn soft, and the tomatoes start to lose their shape. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt, turn off the heat, and set aside to cool.
- Add the sifted flour and baking powder to a large bowl.
- Whisk together the eggs and yogurt in another large bowl. Add the feta and the chopped wild garlic and fold in. Then whisk in the flour and baking powder. Finally, fold in the leek and tomato mixture, and season well with salt and pepper.
- Grease a medium sized tin well (I like using my trusty sillicone baking dish). Pour the mix into the dish, and set in the oven. Cook for 30 minutes, until the top has turned brown. Remove the pan and let cool for 10 minutes. Then dig in. Serve with a fresh green salad, and a nice chutney.