Anna Jones’s halloumi, lemon and caramelised onion pie – recipe

Anna Jones’s halloumi, lemon and caramelised onion pie – recipe

I dream about this pie. Greek flavours of dried mint and halloumi, lemon and sesame seeds. This is a pie that’s good cold and travels well, so it is perfect for a picnic. In summer I eat it with tomatoes and lemony green salad, and in winter I serve it with buttered greens with nutmeg and little crisp, lemony roast potatoes. I have given two filling options here, one for vegans (using vegan halloumi-style cheese and chickpeas in place of the eggs) and one with halloumi.

Serves 6
olive oil 2 tbsp, plus a little extra for greasing
white onions 6, thinly sliced
soft brown sugar ¼ tsp
unwaxed lemon juice of ½
green salad and red wine vinegar-dressed tomatoes to serve (optional)

For the vegan pie
ready-rolled shortcrust pastry 320g (most brands are vegan unless ‘all-butter’ is stated on the packaging)
chickpeas ½ x 400g tin, drained and half the liquid from the tin reserved
dried mint 1 tsp
mint leaves most of a small bunch, picked and roughly chopped
dijon mustard 1 tsp
garlic 1 clove, grated
unwaxed lemon finely zested
vegan halloumi-style cheese 200g block (sometimes called “Mediterranean-style”)
black sesame seeds 1 tsp

For the halloumi pie
ready-rolled shortcrust pastry 320g
organic eggs 3, beaten
dried mint 1 tsp
mint leaves most of a small bunch, picked and roughly chopped
unwaxed lemon finely zested
halloumi 225g
sesame seeds 1 tsp

For the green olive salsa
spring onions 4, white and green parts thinly sliced
green olives 12, pitted
mint leaves from a few sprigs (use the rest from the bunch above)
red wine vinegar 1 tsp
honey or agave ½ tsp

Preheat the oven to 180C fan/gas mark 6.

While the oven is warming, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and when it’s hot, add the onions. Add a pinch of salt and use a wooden spoon to break them up a bit and stir so every piece has touched the oil. Turn the heat down to low and cook for 20 minutes until the onions are completely soft. Add the brown sugar and cook for another 5 minutes until the onions begin to colour. Finally, squeeze in the lemon juice and continue to cook for another 5 minutes until the onions are glossy and golden all over.

Lightly grease a 20cm x 30cm baking tray or loose-bottomed cake tin with olive oil and line with baking paper (the oil will keep the paper stuck to the sides and will prevent a wobbly pastry). Unroll the shortcrust pastry and press it down into the base of the tin or tray and up the sides. Lay another sheet of paper over the top and fill with baking beans. Place in the preheated oven to bake blind for 15 minutes, then lift out the beans and paper and return the pastry to the oven to cook the base through for another 4-5 minutes (the pastry should look pale and dry all over, with no raw, grey patches).

While the pastry is baking, mix your filling.

For the vegan filling: In a mixing bowl, blitz the half-tin of chickpeas and half the liquid from the tin together with a hand-held blender until smooth. Stir in the dried and fresh mint, dijon mustard, garlic and lemon zest. Grate in most of the halloumi-style cheese and stir to combine. Season well with pepper (you shouldn’t need salt as the chickpeas and cheese will be quite salty already).

For the non-vegan filling: In a mixing bowl, combine the beaten eggs together with the dried and fresh mint and lemon zest, then grate in most of the halloumi. Season well with black pepper.

Spread the caramelised onions over the par-baked pastry and use a spatula to help the onions reach all four corners. Spread your filling over the top of the onions and, again, spread out with a spatula (the pastry should hold the filling snugly), then grate over the last bit of halloumi and sprinkle the sesame seeds over the top. Return to the oven and bake for 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, soak the spring onions in cold water to remove some of their intensity. Drain, then place in a mixing bowl. Roughly chop the olives and mint, add these too, then stir in the vinegar and honey or agave.

Remove the pie from the oven and leave for 5 minutes before topping with the green olive salsa.

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