I'm such a sook when I'm sick. I'm like a baby. I'm even wrapped up in a big purple rug, all squished into my chair here. My desk is a mess with screwed up tissues and empty cough lolly packets everywhere. My cat is making a nest for himself somewhere in my lap, deep down in the folds of my rug. He's keeping me warm as the rain pelts down outside and the skies get darker with the early evening approaching. Luckily I've already done the photos for today's dish. The light is now terrible for food photography!
Too bad I missed the deadline to submit today's recipe for the Meatless Monday A–Z challenge (this week was C for Cabbage), but I still loved making this dish.
After two days of high fever, body pains and a blisteringly sore throat, this morning I suddenly felt a lot better. But more than better. It was almost euphoric, lasting for a few hours (does anyone else get that when they're sick?) before it all went downhill again, so I took advantage of my amazing mental state (can't quite say the same for my pathetic physical state) and sent myself to the kitchen to cook up this comforting Greek Cabbage Stew Pie.
And what better dish could you imagine when you're sick than a hearty stew pie?
~ Stew pie? Has she gone completely mad? ~
I know having a bad cold can mess with your head, but I haven't quite lost my nut yet. When I put the call out for ideas to make a Greek cabbage dish other than stuffed cabbage leaves, Mina, one of my readers from Greece (and owner of the gorgeous food blog Mookies) suggested a tomato chilli cabbage stew. Then another reader, Shvetha, came up with the idea to make a cabbage spanakopita. Then I thought, why not cabbage stew... in a pie!
I couldn't wait to make it, and even had ambitious plans to make my own filo for this one. But when I went to bed last night with burning razor blades having a party in my throat it wasn't looking likely that I'd be bending over a table top kneading and folding pastry today. The packaged filo I had in the fridge would have to suffice.
I don't know if it was the scent of fresh basil that I could smell in the house this morning or the codeine tablet, but for the short time that my symptoms subsided I suddenly had the enthusiasm to get into the kitchen and cook. And we don't even have any basil in the house at the moment.
Still not quite keen enough to tackle the home-made filo challenge, I was happy enough to just gently potter around the kitchen and keep a casual eye on the pot of stewing cabbage. It's so very comforting just to watch it bubble away. Especially knowing this was going to be my lunch :)
I had a feeling my pain-free state wasn't going to last and sure enough by the time I started filling the pie, the symptoms started to return. I got through the photo session, only just held on during the eating part, and as soon as I sat down at the computer to upload the photos I could feel the blades getting back into position, ready for round two of flesh-ripping fun and games.
So while Simba my cat does some kneading of his own (more flesh wounds, in my lap!) I might consider kneading some filo pastry over the weekend. Hopefully by then I will have kicked the cold, and won't be relying on any medication or random basil scents for a dose of enthusiasm!
This stew pie actually turned out very well and dare I say it, this might even pass as a real Greek dish – with flavours like fennel, onion and tomato, all wrapped up in pastry it's got all the right ingredients to enter the realm of Greek cuisine, don't you think?
My stew mixture was still a little watery when I transferred it to the pie dish. After cooking the pie, the pastry at the bottom was a bit soggy but this can easily be avoided. I've adjusted the instructions below to suggest not pouring all the liquid from the stew into the pie dish. You could also cook the cabbage stew a little longer to evaporate some more of the liquid before filling the pie.
You can adjust the cayenne pepper to your liking, or omit it altogether. You could probably also use some whole fennel seeds, rather than ground, or even better, substitute half the amount of cabbage with fresh shredded fennel. I would have done this if I could be bothered getting out of my pyjamas today to go down to the shops.
Greek Cabbage Stew Pie
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely sliced
- 2 large cloves garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seed
- 1/2 cabbage, finely sliced
- 1 cup water
- 1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Salt to taste
- 100g feta cheese, crumbled
- 50g melted butter for brushing pastry
- 8 sheets filo pastry
- In a large pot, fry onions in oil over low heat with the lid on until soft and transluscent – around 15 minutes.
- Add garlic and ground fennel seed and fry for a minute or so.
- Place cabbage over onion mixture, pour 1 cup of water over cabbage, replace lid on pot and allow to simmer on low heat for 10 minutes.
- Remove lid and stir cabbage to combine with onion mixture below, replace lid and cook for another 20 minutes or until cabbage is tender. Stir occasionally.
- Add tomatoes, cayenne pepper and salt to taste. Stir thoroughly and allow to simmer over low heat with the lid off for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until there is very little liquid left in the bottom of the pot. Remove from heat, transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius and grease a 26 x 16cm (10 x 7 inch) rectangular baking dish.
- On a clean bench, lay out 3 sheets of filo pastry and cut them in half. Set aside, covered with a damp tea towel so they don't dry out. Have the remaining 5 uncut sheets of pastry ready to use.
- Lay one uncut sheet of pastry in the baking dish, ensuring pastry comes up over the sides of the dish, and brush with melted butter. Repeat with remaining 4 sheets of uncut pastry without brushing the fifth sheet.
- Carefully spoon half the cabbage mixture over the pastry.
- Sprinkle half the feta cheese over the cabbage mixture, then spoon remaining cabbage mixture over feta, being careful not to include any of the liquid at the bottom of the bowl. Sprinkle remaining feta over cabbage mixture.
- Gently lay one of the cut pastry sheets over the filling and brush with melted butter. Repeat for remaining 5 half-sheets then fold or roll the sides down onto the pie, trimming if necessary, and finishing with melted butter. Pierce pastry a few times to allow air to escape while cooking.
- Cook for about an hour or until pastry is golden.
I know it's Wednesday but I love the concept of Meatless Monday so much that I'm calling this Meant-to-be Meatless Monday. I'm also linking up with Veggie Mama's wonderful blog today where you'll find an endless array of veggie main meal ideas and inspiration.