Vegetable Bisteeya

This recipe comes from the Gourmet Farmer Deli Book, a cookbook about producing and cooking food the ‘way it used to be’.  Amongst the different recipes for making cheeses, hams, bacon and smoking and curing fish, there are a lot of recipes for great dishes.  This dish looks at first glance a spanakopita, but made up in a pan more like a spanish tortilla and served like a pie.  It was yummy and surprisingly rich!

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150 g (3/4 cup) butter, unsalted

1 medium brown onion, minced

3 large garlic cloves, minced

1 bunch silverbeet (swiss chard), roughly chopped

1 bunch kale, roughly chopped (I couldn’t get kale so I used tuscan cabbage)

1 bunch spinach, roughly chopped

1 head broccoli, cut into small florets

1 bunch flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

1 Tb ground cumin

1 Tb ground coriander seed

1 tsp ground cinnamon, plus 1/2 teaspoon for dusting

small pinch saffron, ground with fingers

90 ml (3 fl oz) water

4 eggs

10-12 sheets filo pastry

100 g (1 cup) flaked/slivered almonds, toasted

1 Tb icing (confectioner’s) sugar

In a deep saucepan (large enough to hold all the greens), heat half the butter on medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic and saute for a few minutes.  Add all the greens and cook until softened, about 10 minutes.  Add the spices and water, stir to combine, cover and reduce heat to low, and cook for another 10-15 minutes.  There should be very little liquid left in the saucepan, but don’t let the greens burn.  Take off the heat and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 160 C (315 F).  Lightly whisk the eggs, and then combine with the greens mixture.  Now it’s time to assemble the bisteeya.  You’ll need to use an oven-proof pan, about 9-12″ (25-30 cm) in diameter, and at least 2″ (5 cm) deep.  Melt the remaining butter, and using a pastry brush, paint a layer of butter on the pan, then layer about 5-6 sheets filo pastry on the pan, painting a bit of butter between each sheet.  Ensure that the filo sheets extend beyond the pan, so the ends can be folded over the top with more pastry to ‘seal’ the bisteeya.  Once the bottom layer of filo pastry is in the pan, scatter a layer of almonds on the bottom, then pour in the greens-egg mixture.  Now layer more filo pastry on the top, painting a bit of butter between each layer, and ensuring to incorporate the extra bottom layers extending out of the pan into the layers of top pastry.  Place the pan on the stove, and cook over a low heat about 10 minutes to start to brown the bottom of the bisteeya (which will eventually be the top).

Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for 25-30 minutes until golden.  Invert the bisteeya onto a serving platter.  Combine the icing sugar and 1/2 tsp cinnamon and dust the top of the bisteeya.  Using a metal skewer heated over the stove flame, make criss-cross burn marks in a lattice fashion for decoration.  The bisteeya can be served immediately or served cold later.  I found it great both ways!

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