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Othello’s Chickpea Comfort Pie

by Allegra McEvedy, Paul Merrett from Economy Gastronomy

This hearty vegetarian main course will delight veggies and meat eaters alike. Packed with courgettes, chickpeas and fresh herbs it's a nutritious dinner choice.

From the book

Allegra McEvedy, Paul Merrett


A filo pie is a thing of beauty that you don’t see every day, which is a shame as it’s the easiest kind of pie in the world to do: no need to make or roll pastry, and you can fill it with whatever you want. In this case, a combo of delicious Moorish flavours.

Othello, also known as the Moor of Venice, was a general in the Venetian army, and went off to fight the Turks in Cyprus. All of these places have contributed ingredients and a degree of inspiration for this pie, and, let’s face it, finding out you’ve killed your beautiful and devoted wife because you’ve been stitched up by a supposed mate takes a fair bit of comforting.
This is one of those veggie dishes that goes down well with confirmed carnivores. You’ll need an approximate 23cm tart ring with a loose, push-up base.

PS A roll of filo is a great thing to keep in the freezer. No need to defrost it, just pull it out and wrap it around anything, from stir-fried veg (for spring-rolls) or a spiced veggie mix (samosas) to make the kind of little parcels that everybody loves to eat. Either bake them in a hot oven (brush with butter or oil first) for about 25 minutes, or shallow fry them in about 3cm vegetable oil, turning after 4 minutes and taking out after 7-ish.

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2 courgettes (around 450g)
sea salt and pepper
½ tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp fresh thyme, picked, washed and chopped
30g green or black olives, stoned weight, very roughly chopped
250g ricotta
1 lemon, zest
100g butter, melted
around 6 sheets of filo pastry (45cm x 30cm)
For the chickpea mix:
1 ½ red peppers
1 ½ tbsp light olive oil
2 ½ cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 ½ x 400g tins of chickpeas, drained
salt and pepper

Essential kit

You will need an approximate 23cm tart ring with a loose, push-up base


To make the chickpea base:

Roast your peppers in whatever fashion you feel comfortable: a low open flame with frequent turning for 15–20 minutes; under the grill; or in a hot oven. It doesn’t matter which way you achieve an evenly blackened skin, but when you’re there, pop them in a bowl while they’re still hot and cover tightly with cling film (the steam from the hot flesh will loosen the skins, making them easy to peel). Once the peppers are cool enough to handle, peel, de-seed and roughly chop them.

Heat the olive oil in a pan big enough to hold all the ingredients, and gently fry the garlic in it – you want to take it to a very light golden colour, not a toasty nut brown, as that would overpower the other flavours.

Stir in the peppers and chickpeas till well-coated, then let it all warm up a bit – this will only take a couple of minutes.

Tip it all into a food processor (or use a masher if you have strong wrists) and blitz on pulse until everything is incorporated, but in a slightly textured way – there should be no whole or even half chickpeas, but the odd discernible curve is no bad thing.

Give the mixture a generous season with salt and pepper.

To assemble Othello’s Chickpea Comfort Pie:

Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC/160ºC fan/gas mark 4. Grate the courgettes coarsely, spread out on a tray or large plate, and sprinkle with around half a tablespoon of sea salt. Leave to stand for 10 minutes. In a dry pan toast the coriander seeds, shaking the pan until their scent starts to rise (about 2 minutes), then tip into the chickpea base and stir. Squeeze the water out of the courgettes over the sink, then put them in a bowl with the thyme and olives.

Split the ricotta between the bowl with the courgettes and the bowl with the chickpeas, and gently fold it into both of the mixes. Add plenty of pepper to the courgettes, along with the lemon zest. Brush the bottom and sides of the tart ring with melted butter, and lay a sheet of filo so that half of it covers
the base, the rest of the sheet draping outside it. Brush quickly with melted butter, and repeat with another three sheets of filo, rotating the tart ring through 120º, and arranging them so that half always covers the base of the ring, and half hangs outside.

Spread out the chickpea mix with the back of a spoon to form a layer at the base of the tart. Then use another three sheets of pastry as a divider between layers, arranging them in the same way as you did the sheets at the bottom of the tart, with their surplus draping over the edge and brushing each one with butter.

Cover the buttered filo with the courgette mix, then bring all the pastry sheets hanging over the lip of the tart ring up, over and around, gathering them together in a big froufrou in the middle. Brush and drizzle the top lightly and delicately with generous amounts of butter, then put on a tray and bake in the oven for 50 minutes, lifting it out of the tart ring for the last 10 minutes so that the sides turn golden-brown too.

Eat warm, to soothe the soul.

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