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Runner bean and ricotta pie

Runner bean and ricotta pie
  • Main
  • medium
  • 4
  • 1 hour 45 minutes, plus cooling time

PT1H45M

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This recipe was initially inspired by Greek feta and vegetable pies. I imagined that sweet, garlicky runner beans must be delicious surrounded by pastry (most things in pastry tend to be delicious in my opinion!). Their slightly wet and sloppy texture means that you won’t be left with a dry and claggy pie, but an unctuous and silky one. I swapped out feta with ricotta because my mood dictated that I wanted a more soothing pie with more mellow flavours. This was the result.

Alternatives: this dish is also delicious with courgettes and/or aubergines – fried in oil until soft and sloppy – instead of or as well as the beans. If your mood fancies it, then the sourer alternative of feta also works well.

Ingredients

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Method

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1
Start by making the pastry. Place the flour, butter and salt in a food processor and blend until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Mix the yolks and water together and pour into the processor. Blend until the mixture only just comes together
2
Tip onto a floured work surface and bring together with your hands. Divide the pastry into two balls (one smaller than the other for the lid) and wrap in clingfilm. Leave in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest
3
Meanwhile, make the filling. Look at your runner beans. If they are slender, young ones, then you can probably get away with not having to de-string them. If they’re older then remove the strings by running a peeler down the length of the edge of the bean (the side that has a small ridge on it) and top and tail them
4
Once this is done, slice the runner beans at an angle into dainty ribbons, about ½ cm wide. Boil the beans in a pot of salted water for about 4 minutes until they are just cooked (but certainly not al-dente). Drain and set aside
5
Thinly slice the garlic cloves and place into a saucepan wide enough to hold the beans. Add the oil to the pan and fry the garlic on a medium heat until it starts sticking to your wooden spoon and turns a pale golden colour. Add the parsley and fry gently for 2 minutes
6
Add the beans to the pan, season with salt and pepper and braise this mixture for a good 15 minutes over a low heat. The beans should have collapsed a bit and become glossy in the oil. Stir in the basil leaves and cook for 1 more minute. The mixture should be unctuous, bordering on slightly wet. Adjust the seasoning and allow to cool, and preheat the oven to 170°C/gas mark 3
7
Season the ricotta with salt, pepper, chilli flakes, grated nutmeg and lemon zest. This mix shouldn’t be spicy – it should just have a warm tingle
8
Be sure that all the components are very well seasoned, as otherwise the pie will taste dull and unexciting
9
Very gently fold the bean mixture and ricotta together. Do not mix thoroughly – it’s nice when there are a few larger pockets of ricotta here and there
10
Roll out the larger of the two pastry discs about ½ cm thick and line a 20cm pie dish with it
11
Place the filling into the pie
12
Roll out the other disc and slightly dampen the edge. Place the damp edge down on top of the pie and squeeze/crimp the edges to seal. Brush the pastry with milk and bake in the oven for about 1 hour until the pastry is golden
13
This pie is best enjoyed warm or at room temperature so don’t be tempted to cut into it for at least one hour after it comes out of the oven
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