Rick Stein cooks with stinging nettles

Filo pastry is notoriously difficult to work with whether it’s homemade or shop-bought, but when making Horta pie, all that’s required is some simple layering.

Traditionally known as “Hortopita”, there is no single recipe for this Mediterranean dish.

In fact, the main premise is to use a mixture of fresh greens (“horta”), combined with herbs, creamy feta and flaky filo to wrap it all up.

While there are so many variations of this indulgent pie, Rick Stein’s version has a unique Cornish twist that’s easy to replicate in one hour.

And all that’s needed is a handful of fresh, affordable ingredients.

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For four servings:

  • 10 sheets of filo pastry
  • 1kg mixed greens – wild garlic, nettles, sea beet, spinach, chard, dandelion leaves, sea arrow, or spear leaved orache
  • One lemon, juiced
  • Two eggs
  • Two medium onions, halved and sliced
  • 600g feta cheese, crumbled or chopped
  • One teaspoon of salt
  • 20 turns black peppermill
  • Olive oil for greasing

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Sharing his recipe on his BBC show, Rick Stein’s Cornwall, the chef said: “In a lot of Mediterranean countries the gathering of wild greens is part of life.

“I have filmed excursions in Italy and Greece before and asked the simple question, ‘Why don’t we do this back home?’ There is plenty to choose from: nettles, wild Parsley, purslane, sea kale, dandelions and wild garlic to name but a few.

“However, this pie is also well worth making with leaves you can buy, such as chard, spinach, radicchio or rocket.”

Start on the filling by washing and finely chopping the fresh greens, then place it all in a very large bowl.

Add in the chopped onions, lemon juice and two eggs before adding the creamy, crumbled feta. Mix well to combine the ingredients, then season with plenty of salt and pepper.

Once the mixture has been prepared, heat the oven to 180C then oil the base of a 40-45cm ovenproof dish.

Line with a sheet of filo pastry, brush with olive oil, then place another sheet on top. Continue to layer the pastry until there are five layers of filo in the dish.

Spoon on the green mixture in the dish then place the remaining five sheets of filo on top, oiling between each one. Finish the pie by folding the pastry from the edges to seal the filling in the pie, then brush once more with a drizzle of oil.

Cook in the oven for 50 minutes to one hour until the pastry is lightly golden brown and the mixture is fully baked.

Rick suggested covering the pie with a sheet of foil if the pastry is browning too fast.

When the pie is ready to serve, remove it from the oven and slice it into even portions. The chef claimed that it can be enjoyed hot or cold, and goes well with a side of seasonal greens.

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