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Leiths Advent - DEC 8 - Our Leiths Vegetarian Christmas Special

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Leiths Advent - DEC 8 - Our Leiths Vegetarian Christmas Special

Photo by Charlie Richards.

Times are changing and the star of your Christmas table this year doesn't necessarily have to be your roast turkey. Our Aubergine and Chestnut Pie is not only an enticing vegetarian dish which works perfectly with all the traditional trimmings, but it also makes a stunning centerpiece.



For the Aubergine Layer
1 medium-sized aubergine, cut into cubes
5 tablespoons olive oil
3 tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons tomato purée
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tablespoon fresh basil chopped
1 tablespoon fresh marjoram, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Nut Layer
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
55ml water
110g walnuts, roughly chopped
110g unsweetened chestnut purée (easily made with pre-cooked chesnuts, 1-2 TBSP boiling water, blitzed with a hand blender)
55g peeled and cooked chestnuts, roughly chopped
30g fresh wholemeal bread cubes

For the Courgette Layer
225g courgettes, sliced
1 small bunch chives, finely chopped
1 tablespoon single cream (leave this out to make recipe vegan)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

To Finish
3 tablespoons oil or melted butter
7 sheets filo pastry
1 tablespoon sesame seeds


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6.
  2. Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a frying pan to cover the base and add the aubergine cubes. Fry them until beginning to soften and browning slightly (you may need to do this in a couple of batches depending on your pan size).
  3. Add the tomatoes, tomato purée, garlic, salt, pepper, basil and marjoram. Season with salt and pepper and cook gently until tender.
  4. Make the nut layer. Cook the onions and celery in 1 tablespoon of oil until soft (this may take 15-20 minutes). Add the water, walnuts, chestnut purée, chestnuts, bread cubes, salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Fry the courgettes in the remaining oil, until lightly browned and softened. When tender add the cream, chives salt and pepper.
  6. Layer the fillings up in a large dish, starting with the aubergines and finishing with the courgettes.
  7. Cover the pie with 7 layers of filo pastry, brushing each layer with oil or melted butter. Brush the top with oil or melted butter and sprinkle with the sesame seeds.
  8. Bake for 20 – 30minutes minutes or until the top is golden brown, crisp and the filling is piping hot.

NOTE: To get 55g of peeled cooked chestnuts you will need to buy about 170g of fresh chestnuts. To cook them, make a slit in the skin of each chestnut, and out them into a pan of cold water. Bring to the boil, simmer for 10 minutes, and then take off the heat. Remove 1 or 2 nuts at a time and peel - the skins come off quite easily - if the chestnuts are hot but not but not overcooked. Alternatively they can be bought cooked and peeled, ready to use which is recommended for ease and they can be difficult to get hold of.

Head to our Ultimate Guide to Christmas Cooking for all the festive recipes you'll need this season!


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