Huzzah, I finally managed to get a post in for MENA cooking club! I officially joined about 2 months ago, but due to
facepalm fails circumstances (getting the date wrong for the Lebanon challenge and adding too much salt for the sfinz in the Libyan challenge), I am only getting around to my first challenge now for Malta.
From the light and simple soup, I also tried making the slightly more decadent pastizzi. I guess it’s like a Mediterranean version of pasties, and let’s be honest, who doesn’t like puff pastry and cheese together?! As the ricotta cheese I bought was a little runny, I decided to add some chopped spinach. However, due to the addition of the egg, the actual filling quickly solidifies in the oven. Even though puff pastry is quite rich, the light nature of the filling meant that it doesn’t taste too heavy.
Also, I must admit, as I was shaping the pastizzi, I thought they looked a little unattractive. But the wonderful thing about puff pastry is that it is ever so forgiving, and after a transformation in the oven, it always comes out looking golden and inviting.
Out of laziness, I decided to make these pastizzi quite large in size, I’m not sure what the traditional size is. You could enjoy 1 or 2 with some salad for a light lunch. We enjoyed it as an appetizer with some chilli sauce in our home. Yes we are totally typical desis!
Preperation time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 45 mins – 1 hour
2 tbs olive oil
1 onion sliced
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 stick of celery, chopped
1 carrot diced
1/2 whute cabbage, sliced
1 cup plum/cherry tomatoes, chopped
1 cup wholegrain pasta
2 bay leaves
1/2-1 tsp crushed chilli (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
1) In a large pot, add the oil. Allow to heat up slightly, then add in the onions and garlic. Add bay leaves and a 1/4 tsp of salt to help onions soften. Lea3ve for a minute, then add in the celery and carrots, Stir, and cover and leave to cook for 2-3 minutes for vegetables to soften.
2) Uncover pot and add in the cabbage, tomatoes and crushed chilli. Stir and allow to gently cook in the oil for a further 3 minutes on a medium heat with the lid on.
3) After a few minutes, once the vegetables have slightly reduced down, add enough water to cover the pot almost to the brim. For me, this was about 6 mugs of water. Cover and leave to cook on a low to medium heat for about 30-40 minutes. Uncover the soup every now and then to give the vegetables a stir. Halfway through the cooking time, season the broth with salt and pepper to taste.
4) After roughly 20 minutes of cooking the soup, add in the pasta and stir in. Cover and leave to cook.
5) After the 30-40 minutes of cooking, check to make sure that the pasta and vegetables are cooked through. Check seasoning of soup to taste, then remove from heat and serve.
Prep time: 30 mins
Cooking time: 20-30 mins
500g Puff Pastry
250g ricotta cheese
2 eggs, whisked
1 cup spinach, chopped
1/2 tsp crushed chilli
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup seasame seeds (optional)
1) Pre-heat oven to 180C and grease and line a bking tray.
2) Prepare filling by combining cheese, spinach, eggs, salt, pepper and chilli in a bowl. Mix together well.
3) Take golf size balls of puff pastry and roll out into circles roughly 10-15 cm in diameter. The dough should be rolled out quite thin as it will puff up in the oven.
4) Place filling in the centre of the circles. Bring the sides up together and crimp then together using a folding or twisting motion. This should create a sort of package and the pastizzi should be able to sit up. Don’t worry if it is a little messy as it will look better after it comes out of the oven.
5) Repeat step 4 for all the remaining pastry. Place the pastizzis on tray. Brush the tops of the pastizzis with milk and then sprinkle on sesame seeds from a height. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until the pastizzi are golden brown and puffed up. Allow pastizzi to cool slightly before serving.