Sweet potato pastilla
Serves 6 | prep 30 mins | total time
- 750g sweet potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp olive oil, plus 2 tsp
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 260g young spinach
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 3 red peppers, deseeded and diced
- 250g pack precooked brown rice
- 220g pack fresh filo pastry
- 100g butter, melted
- 100g vegetarian feta, crumbled
- a large pinch of poppy seeds or sesame seeds
The pastilla can be prepared the day before baking; cover with clingfilm and chill. When ready to cook, brush with more butter, sprinkle with the seeds and add 10 minutes to the cooking time.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C, fan 180°C, gas 6. Toss the sweet potato with 1 tablespoon of oil, the cumin seeds and ½ teaspoon of cinnamon. Season and tip onto a shallow baking tray. Roast for 30-35 minutes until tender and lightly golden. Leave to cool.
- Blanch the spinach in boiling water for 1 minute, then drain well. Tip into a colander; press out the liquid using the back of a spoon. Put in a clean tea towel; squeeze out any excess liquid. Leave to cool, then chop. Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a frying pan and fry the onion for 10 minutes until soft, but not golden. Add the garlic and peppers, and cook for another 6-8 minutes until soft. Stir in the rice, remaining cinnamon and seasoning; remove from the heat and cool.
- On a large work surface, lay out 3 of the filo sheets end-to-end lengthways (keep the remaining filo pastry covered by a damp tea towel as you work), overlapping each one by about 10cm; stick them together with the melted butter to create a rectangle, then brush the whole thing generously with more butter. Repeat with 3 more sheets along the top half of the rectangle, positioned so they overhang by 10cm at the top. Butter again, then add 3 more sheets, this time to overlap by 10cm at the bottom half of the rectangle. You will end up with a rectangle that’s triple thickness in the middle, but only 1 sheet thick along the top and bottom. Spoon the pepper mix along the centre of the pastry (where it is triple thickness), leaving 5cm at either end. Add the sweet potato, then the spinach and feta on top. Butter the exposed pastry around the filling.
- Starting with the closest edge, lift the pastry over the filling, tucking in the ends; then roll up going away from you, to make a sausage. Starting at one end of the sausage, roll up to make a spiral pastilla. Don’t worry if it splits, simply butter pieces of the excess filo (you should have about 3 sheets remaining) and patch up the holes while you mould it.
- Slide a flat baking sheet gently under the pastilla. Butter the top and exposed sides generously, then sprinkle over the poppy seeds. Bake for 45-50 minutes until golden and crisp. Leave to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
Sweet potato pastilla