Chick pea and bacon pie

PERFECT PASTRY: The filling for these perfect little pies can be eaten cold as a salad, hot with grilled meats or wrapped in crunchy filo pastry and added to the lunchbox. Serve the pies with a green salad for a main meal.
PERFECT PASTRY: The filling for these perfect little pies can be eaten cold as a salad, hot with grilled meats or wrapped in crunchy filo pastry and added to the lunchbox. Serve the pies with a green salad for a main meal.

Since discovering chick peas, I have found many interesting ways to incorporate them into casseroles, pies and salads.

A cheap and nutritious addition to the diet, there are now several brands on the market. They have a satisfying texture and their blandness does not compete with the primary flavour of a dish; indeed, they tend to soak it up.

I cannot claim that today's recipe is wholly mine, having adapted it from Nigella Lawson's book, ``How to be a Domestic Goddess''. Imitation is a sincere form of flattery  or so they say. While keeping her Iranian-inspired combo of rice, chick peas and spices, I have included readily available vegetables (substituting leeks for onion) and given the recipe a Western-style flavour boost with the addition of crispy bacon.

The resulting dish not only appeals to southern palates but is truly versatile. It makes an excellent salad, ideal for barbecue entertaining, and is just as good hot. It can be made in advance and actually improves in flavour if left in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving.

You can use cannellini beans instead of chick peas, and lentils work especially well in the pie. When frying the courgettes, make sure the pan is medium hot and watch them like a hawk to avoid sogginess.

Filling ingredients
6 rashers streaky bacon
1 small-to-medium leek
4 to 5 medium courgettes
Half a red capsicum
2 x 390g cans chick peas, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup basmati rice
500ml chicken stock
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander

Method
Chop courgettes into chunks and sear in a medium-hot pan with a little oil. Set aside.
Fry chopped bacon in the pan then set aside.
Reduce heat then add sliced leek and finely chopped capsicum and cook slowly until softened.
Combine all the cooked vegetables, bacon and drained chick peas in a large bowl.
Reheat the pan with a dash of oil.
Add the spices and gently fry for a couple of minutes, stirring often.
Add the rice and stir until coated with oil and the spices.
Add the stock to the rice a little at a time until the rice is cooked. Allow to cool.
Add the rice to the vegetables and bacon and toss thoroughly.

Pie ingredients
200gm filo pastry
Melted butter
Prepared filling
Use small springform tins for individual pies or one 21 to 23cm tin.

Method
Set oven at 180degC and place a baking sheet in the centre of oven.
Brush baking tin with melted butter.
Layer filo in tin, brushing the top of each sheet as you go.
For the small pies, use one sheet cut into quarters; for the large tin use single sheets.
The small pies require five  layers and the large one 7 to 8 layers.
Spoon filling into tin(s).
Do not trim the edges. Brush them with melted butter and fold over the top of pie.
Scrunch filo to close gaps on top then brush with butter.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes and allow to cool before releasing the band of the tin and sliding the pie on to a cooling rack.   

The Southland Times