You may be thinking why snake ? In the vegan world animals are put to the forefront of our lives – we love them so much that some of us shape our food in their wondrous image. This came about as I wanted to make a pie with an unusual shape. So, as I toyed around with the pastry and coiled it for a while, my 5 year old daughter exclaimed ‘Mum that looks like a snake !’ So that is the shape we chose. Fun, amusing, interesting, and in so doing embracing and showing my appreciation of all snakes worldwide. A great party piece – but allow me to tell you the taste is impeccable, sublime, and ever so exotic. Originally an aspect of this pie was inspired by a local Maltese pie which includes fish – but this is all vegan, and is packed with rich flavours from the Mediterranean, and then just a hint of the orient with a sweet spice. You’re in for a surprise – a very pleasant one, I hope !
TIP : Serve with a very colourful, crunchy fresh salad, and drizzle on some dressing of your choice.
INGREDIENTS FOR PASTRY
18 oz (500 g) vegan puff pastry (I bought ‘Jus-Rol’)
vegan milk for brushing
1½ Tbsp sesame seeds
INGREDIENTS FOR FILLING
olive oil for frying
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp hot curry powder
2 cups petit pois (baby frozen peas)
3 to 4 Tbsp tomato paste
¾ cup (180 mL) water
18 oz (½ kg) fresh spinach, or 6 balls of frozen spinach, thawed
12 black olives (dried salted ones – the wrinkled ones), pitted
2 Tbsp marinated capers
½ teaspoon of dried mint
2 Tbsp freshly chopped flat leaf parsley
2 Tbsp (30 mL) sweet chilli sauce
8 sundried tomato halves, roughly chopped
1 strip of Kombu sea-vegetable, roughly chopped
1 squeeze freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Fry your shallots in a non-stick saucepan on a low heat, until they turn a little transparent.
- Then add your garlic and curry powder, and stir for a couple of minutes.
- Next, add the peas and tomato paste and continue stirring on a low heat. Cover, and allow to cook for 10 minutes, adding a little water at a time, so that the ingredients don’t stick.
- At this point, add the remaining ingredients and stir. Allow the mixture to cook for around 20 to 30 minutes – you should be left with a nice thick mixture.
- Now allow the filling to cool right down.
- Meanwhile on a clean surface, lightly dusted with flour, you need to take your pastry out, and cut it in three lengthways. Then join the three lengths end to end, to form a line in readiness for the ‘snake’ shape.
- Next, roll the pastry as long as you can lengthways and widthways – you are looking at rolling it to approximately 3 inches wide, or slightly less.
- Pre-heat your oven at this stage to 350ºF (180ºC).
- Now grease a reasonably shallow oven-proof dish approximately 12 inches in diameter. Then cut greaseproof paper to fit the base of the dish, and oil the paper a little using kitchen towel.
- Place the first 7 inches or so of pastry into it, and using a dessert spoon, start to fill the centre of the pastry with your filling, and then close the pastry on the top into a little fold to seal it.
- Continue doing this by placing the remaining pastry, section by section, into the dish in a circular shape, in order to create the ‘coil shape of a snake’ – and continue filling.
- Once you have reached the end, if you are left with a little more filling, despair not – you can heat this up, and eat with the finished dish, or enjoy with bread or toast.
- Now back to your ‘snake’. Go to one end of the ‘snake’, and stick two pieces of black olive on each side to give the impression of the eyes. Then find the tip of this end, and stick two thin pieces of sundried tomato, to give the impression of the tongue.
- Finally brush the pastry with some vegan milk, and top with sesame seeds. Place in the oven until golden. Allow 15 to 20 minutes before cutting and serving, as it will be way to hot to handle and serve. Enjoy !
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