Thursday, 29 March 2007

Creamy Tuna and Vegetable Pie

So today, I was wondering what to cook for dinner - HAD to be something with tuna because all the meat I have in the freezer has been designated for meals for the rest of the week.

Didn't want to do a boring tuna mornay or any of the usual boring tuna things, so a little light turned on in my head. I was thinking..tuna..sauteed mixed vegetables...cheese...creamy white sauce - all encased in a golden pastry..mmmmm, this might actually work! A creamy tuna and vegetable pie.

Firstly, I knocked together a quick shortcrust pastry (all the recipes to follow) then as it was chilling in the fridge, I got to work with chopping the vegetables, sauteing them and allowing to cool, whilst I prepared the white sauce.

It all came together pretty quickly, though I spent a bit of time waiting for the filling to cool before adding it to the lined pastry pie dish - if the filling is hot, well the butter rich pastry is just going to melt and fall apart, don't want that - so to avoid a disaster, LET IT COOL!

You also need to 'blind' bake the pie crust before adding any filling as this stops the dough from being soggy!

It is a WONDERFUL pie for kids. The vegetables are all hidden by the creamy sauce. I must say my son who is 3.5, absolutely loved it - and I am thrilled he enjoyed it, gives me great satisfaction knowing that I made something he ravaged!

I must make mention, as I am a 'bit o' this, bit o' that' cook' - I will, like always, try to give as accurate measurements as possible!

So, without further ado...lets make a start on this recipe!!!

Sam's Shortcrust Pastry :

  • 2 C Plain Flour
  • 150g butter ( I used canola margarine) - must be very cold, straight from the fridge
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6-8 Tb chilled water
  1. In a bowl, add your flour. salt and butter (canola margarine) and rub it with your fingertips, until it resembles crumbs.
  2. Cautiously, add chilled water, tablespoon by tablespoon, and using a blunt knife, mix it together using a cutting motion, until it comes together - then get your hands in there and gently knead it to get it all together in a ball.
  3. Pretty easy stuff - then put it in a little plastic bag and chill in the fridge 30 minutes.
Saute your vegetables :
  • 1/2 zucchini, grated or finely diced
  • 1/2 brown onion
  • 2 medium celery stalks, finely diced
  • 1/2 C frozen mixed vegetables (corn kernels, carrot, peas, corn) the one I buy also has cauliflower and broccoli core in it - this is good for 'bulking up' the filling.
  1. Heat a pan on medium heat, when it is hot - add a drizzle of good olive oil,then add the grated zucchini, onion and celery and saute these for around 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly.
  2. Add the cup of frozen vegetables, stir for another 3-4 minutes until done.
  3. Turn off heat and move pot to the back of the stove.
For the White Sauce :
  • 50g butter (I used canola margarine)
  • 50g Plain flour
  • 2 -3/4 C milk
  • 1 Massel Chicken Cube these are what I have been using for years, they're great and far superior to cheapie stock/bouillon cubes plus, they're suitable for vegetarians, yes! CHICKEN FLAVOUR made from vegetables!
  • pinch of sea salt and grind of pepper
  • 425g can of tuna (in brine)
  • 1/2 C grated tasty cheese
  1. Place butter in a pan and melt on medium heat, when bubbling, dump in your plain flour and half the milk, and begin whisking immediately, this will ensure you have a lump free sauce.
  2. Drop in the Massel cube, salt and pepper, keep whisking, until you see the sauce start to thicken.
  3. Add the rest of the milk, continuing to whisk and as it thickens again, add the 1/2 a cup of grated tasty cheese, whisking until it melts.
  4. Drain can of tuna and add to the sauce.
  5. Turn heat off and now add the sauteed vegetables to the white sauce.
  6. Allow the sauce and vegetable mix to cool completely.
Blind baking the pie crust :
  1. Preheat oven to 180c.
  2. Remove pastry from fridge, flour work surface and pull approximately half the pastry off the lump and gently knead a little.
  3. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out in a rough circle shape and to about 6-7mm thickness.
  4. Brush some olive oil in your pie dish, and lay the pastry into the dish, using the overhang to help you adjust the pastry to 'sit right'.
  5. Lift dish up and use a sharp knife to cut off the excess pastry. (Put excess pastry aside - you will have enough filling and pastry to make another pie, one for dinner and one to freeze!)
  6. Rip a piece of baking paper and lay this on the pastry and then proceed to fill and weigh the paper/dough down with either rice or beans - this allow the pastry to cook through without bubbling or rising.
  7. Put it in the oven for 20 minutes, keeping an eye on it, it should be taken out just before it reaches the 'golden brown' stage.
Assembling the pie :
  • OK, begin to fill the pie crust with the cooled vegetable/sauce filling. Fill it to the top.
  • With another piece of pastry, flour your work surface, and using your floured rolling pin - roll out the "lid" of the pie to about 6-7mm.
  • Break an egg into a little bowl and gently whisk, using a pastry brush, paint the egg wash around the rim of the pie crust, so it 'adheres' the crust and the 'lid' together.
  • Lay the pastry over the filled pie crust, take a fork and and press the edges down and this is purely optional : with some of the excess dough, cut out a shape and lay it on top of the pie.
  • Brush the top of the pie with some of the remaining egg wash.
  • Place in the oven and cook for approximately 30 minutes, keeping an eye on it and taking it out when it is a rich golden brown colour.

I served mine with a side of garlic and chive mashed potatoes and a salad of tomatoes, cucumber, onion and basil, drizzled with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper *just to 'freshen' the palate*.


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