Sweet Potato, Spinach, and Chickpea Slab Pie

March 16, 2018

This recipe has seen a few trials and errors (mostly errors) but I've landed on this super tasty and fun savoury vegan pie with sweet potato, mushrooms, chickpeas, and spinach, packed with curry flavour.  The original idea was a samosa pie made just with potatoes and peas but it was way too heavy. The pastry is a speedy spelt one made in the food processor because I got a little frustrated with hot water crust and this was easier. I've made this pie with a few different pastry types but this was my favourite, and it's all whole-grain, so you can feel good about eating that third piece of pie. Living life to the fullest over here! 

Here's the slightly tricky thing about this recipe. You have to cook a bit of the filling before baking it, but it doesn't take long. I tried making it without cooking off the onions and mushrooms and it was kind of awful - even Graham made a bit of a yuck face and he eats everything, so that step can't be skipped. Since you're frying a bit anyway, the spices get mixed in to improve their flavour before being added to sliced sweet potato, then layered with spinach or another leafy green. I'm a bit uninspired and sick of root vegetables so this is a way to liven up what's available at this time of year before spring stuff starts coming in. Just add a little curry, right? Curry and cookies to get through the next month of rain-induced grouchiness.

If you're looking for a different Easter main dish, this would be great, but it's also nice just as a weekend dinner. Hypothetically you could make this on a weeknight; it doesn't take that long to prep, but I can't see myself doing it after a full day of work. If you're not comfortable with making your own pastry, just buy some good stuff and use that instead. This is pretty forgiving even if you're not a pie master, which I'm obviously not, hah. It's rustic. The pastry is more crisp than flaky, typical of a pie made with coconut oil instead of butter.

The idea was to make this as a freeform pie without a baking-form, but my friend Svenny lent me a whole pile of beautiful pots and pans that she recently inherited. She also hand modelled for me for an afternoon and it was probably the best workday I've had in the past year. What an angel. I ended up making the pie in a rectangular form (around 8x6 / 20x15) as a slab pie, because who has pie pans? (You, probably.)

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Sweet Potato, Spinach, and Chickpea Slab Pie
Serves 4-6

Sweet Potato Filling

1 tablespoon coconut oil
250 grams / 2 cups button mushrooms, sliced
60 grams / 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
5cm piece ginger, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon sea salt (to taste)
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
150 grams / 1 cup cooked chickpeas
400 grams / 1 medium sweet potato, sliced into rounds
70 grams / 3 cups baby spinach or other greens

Heat a large pan over medium-high heat with the coconut oil. Add the mushrooms and onions, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and ginger, and cook for another minute, followed by the spices. Cook for another 30 seconds, until fragrant. Stir the apple cider vinegar into the pan and turn off the heat. Set aside.

Place the chickpeas and sliced sweet potato into a large bowl* and mix with the mushroom spice mixture until the sweet potatoes are coated in spices. Set this aside while you make the pastry.

Coconut Oil Spelt Pastry

250 grams / 2 cups spelt flour*
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
50 grams / 1/4 cup solid coconut oil
8-10 tablespoons cold water

Preheat the oven to 190C / 375F and grease an 8x6 / 20x15 rectangular pan with coconut oil.

Place the flour, salt, and coconut oil into the base of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment.  Pulse until it looks like wet sand and the coconut oil is broken up into small pieces. Add the water a tablespoon at a time, pulsing between additions, until the pastry holds when pressed between your fingers.

Form a ball with the pastry and split into two pieces, 1/3 and 2/3. Flour a large surface space and roll out the larger piece to a half-centimetre thickness. Place into the prepared pan, gently pressing to make sure there are no gaps. Layer the filling into the pastry, starting with the sweet potato mixture followed by spinach, until all of the filling has been used. Roll out the remaining pastry and top the pie, using a fork to seal the edges and cutting off any excess with a sharp knife. 

Cut a vent in the top of the pie if you'd like, then bake in the centre rack of the oven for 40-45 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and the pie pulls away from the edges of the pan slightly. Cool for 10 minutes before cutting and serving hot. 

1. If you have an extra large pan, the chickpeas and sweet potatoes can be mixed right in it instead of using a bowl (and dirtying an extra dish).

• If you're not vegan, you can top the pie with an egg wash before baking for a more golden crust.

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