When I was visiting with my mother around Christmas time, I sampled one of the most delicious things I’d ever eaten. A rich mixture of pumpkin, mushrooms, chestnuts and herbs tumbling out of a puff pastry crust in a delightful avalanche of extraordinary flavour. It reminded me of mince pie, though truth be told, it’s been so long since I’ve had any meat I can hardly remember what mince pie tastes like.
Upon returning home, I decided to put my own twist on the recipe, simplifying the preparation and substituting the pumpkin for sweet potato. It’s just as good, so you can use whatever you have on hand. (I’m imagining carrots would work very well, too!) Making this pie will require some time-management, but if you follow the instructions below you shouldn’t spend too much time in the kitchen. And even if you do, this recipe is totally worth your time!
Herby Sweet Potato, Mushroom, and Chestnut Pie
First, you’ll need to roast 1 very large sweet potato (at least 250g) with some rosemary and a handful of chestnuts (around 200g) in a pre-heated oven at 180°C for about 30 minutes. I use one baking sheet for both the potato and the chestnuts. Pour some oil on the baking sheet, then place the chestnuts on top (don’t forget to pierce their shells beforehand so that they don’t explode in your oven) and the peeled, chopped sweet potato. Sprinkle a generous amount of rosemary over the potato, season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with some more oil. Roast as described.
While your potatoes and chestnuts are roasting, heat some oil in a pan and fry 1 medium yellow onion, chopped, until translucent. Add about 500g chopped mushrooms (any kind will do, though the recipe recommends portobello) and cook for a while, until browned and soft. Season with thyme, salt, and pepper. Once the mushrooms are done cooking, place them in a large bowl to cool, then add the potato, rosemary, and peeled chestnuts and let them cool all together.
Meanwhile, roll out 2/3 of a 250g lump of puff pastry (for a quiche dish 29 cm in diameter) and arrange it in a quiche dish. Roll out the remaining third, cut into thin strips, and set aside. Now, back to the veggies. Add 250g quark, or mascarpone, or cream cheese to the potato and mushroom mix, and mix well. You can also toss in 1 egg to fluff it up. Pour the vegetable mixture into the pastry bed, place strips on top, and bake everything in a pre-heated oven at 180°C for 30 – 40 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.
See, that’s not so complicated, is it? Enjoy this pie piping hot on a snowy winter evening, alongside a cup of thick, sweet potato or pumpkin soup, or accompanied by an arugula salad with yoghurt-lemon dressing for a lighter lunch version.