roasted vegetable and mozzarella pithivier

a great vegetarian alternative

A Pithivier (Pithiviers in French) is a round pie usually made by baking two disks of puff pastry, with filling stuffed in between. It has the appearance of a hump and is traditionally decorated with spiral lines drawn from the top outwards with the point of a knife, and scalloping the edge. It is commonly held that the dish originated in the French town of Pithiviers in the Loiret department of the Centre region.

Pithiviers are generally filled with a frangipane of almond paste, but savoury versions are also popular, as is the case with this vegetarian interpretation.



Ingredients

·         1 large red pepper, deseeded and roughly diced

·         1 medium red onion, cut into wedges

·         200gm courgettes, sliced thickly

·         2 garlic cloves, sliced

·         1 tbsp olive oil

·         1 x 500gm pack of puff pastry

·         4 tbsp sundried tomato paste

·         4 tbsp shredded basil leaves (tear rather than cut these)

·         125gm of mozzarella, drained and torn

·         2 egg yolks

·         salt and pepper

·         2 chopped anchovy fillets [optional]

Variations

Use red pesto instead of sundried tomato paste

Use goat's cheese instead of mozzarella



Method

Preheat the oven to 220°C (Gas 7)

·         Put the red pepper, onion, courgettes, garlic and olive oil into a large roasting tin; season with the chopped anchovy fillets [optional] salt and pepper to taste, and toss together.

·         Spread the vegetables out and roast on the top shelf of the oven for 15 minutes. Remove, turn them over and return to the over for another 10 minutes or until tender.

·         Remove and leave to go cold.

·         On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry until it is about 3mm thick, then cut into 4 x 15cm discs and 4 x 14cm discs (saucers work fine for this) – roll the pastry a little more if necessary.

·         Spread the red pesto over the centre of each 14cm disc to within 2cm of the edge. Spoon the roasted vegetables on top, sprinkle with basil and top with a quarter of the mozzarella.

·         Beat the egg yolks with 2 tsps of cold water. Brush some of the mixture round the edge of each base; lay the larger discs on top and press the edges together to seal, and score with the tines of a fork.

·         Place the Pithiviers on a buttered non-stick baking sheet and chill for at least 20 minutes.

The recipe up to this point can be made up to a day in advance.

·         Brush the top of each Pithivier with the remaining egg yolk glaze, then score the pastry lightly with the tip of a sharp knife to decorate. Make a small slit in the centre of each lit to let out steam.

·         Bake in the centre of the oven for 20 minutes until puffed up and golden.