This has to be my favourite dish in the world. The most important thing about this dish to make it taste so good is that most of the ingredients have to be good. Everything that you put into it has to be flavoursome, from the ripe orange pumpkin, to the olives and the fresh salted tuna.
I recently wrote a post about salted tuna. Well, the time had come to put it to good use. This was one of the last dishes I made before my mum left to go back to Australia and it is exactly how I remember it. It brought back memories of the tuna we salted when my dad would come back with a box of tuna from fishing, the big pumpkin we picked from the farm or got from Flemington Markets (we knew the pumpkins as Queensland Blues), the mint and other herbs we got from the garden and everything else we had bought from the local grocery store.
If you don’t have the salted tuna then replace this with a medium can of tuna in oil and 5 chopped anchovies.
I also made the pastry from scratch this time but puff pastry or shortcrust pastry is an alternative substitute. If you are not into pastry then you can eat the mixture on its own, delicious just as it is. You will just need to cook everything a little more as you won’t be baking the mixture like you do with the pie.
One thing I didn’t add in this dish which is optional and usually I would add is sutlanas or raisins. My mum is not a fan so I didn’t add them this time, but if you think you would like them then add a few handfuls in.
As everything there are slight differences from one family to the next. I have noticed that many recipes dice there pumpkin quite small whereas we have always diced our pumpkin quite large. A much more rustic looking pie but this is how my family have always done it and how I like it.
A new discovery also came about this week. I have been reading a book about the history of Malta and learning a little bit more about the history of the Knights of St John. Apparently, some of our cuisine has had Greek/Eastern Mediterranean influences. I have been a bit perplexed as I have not been sure how. Until this week, and I never thought that this dish would be one of them.
My Cypriot friend came over on Tuesday night and of course I was telling him about my new blog. I had some left over pumpkin pie and showed him this too. He mentioned that there was something very similar which his mum made. His mum makes these pumpkin pastry turnovers known as kolokotes. They look delicious and include, pumpkin, rice, raisins and different herbs. And looking into this further I discovered that there is also a pumpkin pie which they make known as kolokythopita. How similar! Who knows how our pie came about but I am putting bets on that there has been some Eastern Mediterranean influence somewhere and possibly from the Knights of St John times.
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do.
- For the pastry:
- 400 grams flour sifted
- 200 ml water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 70 grams butter
- For the filling:
- 1.6 kilogram large diced red pumpkin (about 2 cm x 1 cm)
- 3 small leeks (550 grams) sliced medium thickness
- 1 small onion very finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 115 grams fresh salted tuna (as an alternative use 1 medium can tuna in oil and 5 anchovies chopped) sliced and chopped in small pieces
- 300 grams rice par boiled for 8 minutes
- 20 pitted black kalamata olives (or Maltese olives if you can get them)
- 2 tablespoons capers
- Small bunches of mint, parsley, oregano, margoram (we used dried) and basil. Chopped
- a few handfuls of raisins or sultanas (optional)
- Olive oil for frying
- Prepare the dough the night before you make the pie.
- In a dough mixer or by hand mix the sifted flour, salt and water to create a soft dough ball.
- Once the dough has formed or close to it, take out of the mixer.
- Knead for about 15 minutes until the dough is quite soft. You do not want a wet dough but more of a dry soft dough.
- Place in the fridge overnight wrapped in plastic wrap.
- Prepare all your ingredients for the filling and leave to the side for a moment.
- Obtain your dough from the fridge and on a table lightly grease with some of your butter.
- Roll the dough on the table to make it very thin.
- Spread all of the butter over the dough except for a little to spread on the dough once rolled out again.
- Now slowly roll the dough to form a swiss roll (refer to image) but when rolling stretch the dough as you go along.
- Once you have created your pastry 'swiss roll' or long 'sausage' cut in two pieces in the ration of 4:5.
- Roll the long sausages to form a snail shell (refer to image).
- The next step is to roll each dough piece out again on the table but not as thin as above. One of the dough pieces should be enough to cover the base and sides of a large dish, and the other dough piece should be enough to cover the top of the dish once the filling is added.
- Place the larger piece of dough in a large dish (it should cover the base and sides of the dish). Prick the dough several times with a fork.
- Fry the onion, leek and garlic for about five to ten minutes on medium heat until soft and tender.
- While this is happening par boil the rice for 8 minutes.
- In the pan with the onion and other ingredients add in the herbs and pumpkin and fry for about fifteen minutes.
- Now add in the other ingredients - olives, capers, salted tuna (canned tuna and anchovies if you don't have salted tuna) and raisins or saltanas (optional). Cook for a further five minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 180oC.
- Turn the heat off from the frying pan and add in the rice and mix into the mixture. Season with pepper. Only season with salt if you have not used fresh home made salted tuna (the fresh tuna can be quite salty).
- Add all the mixture into the dish where you have already put the pastry base.
- If you feel it needs a little more oil then sprinkle a few tablespoons of oil in the mixture.
- Cover with the remaining pastry. Make sure to put two holes on either side of the dish to let the steam come out while cooking in the oven. Prick the top of the pie with a fork also.
- Place in the oven for approximately 45 minutes. If the top of the pie has not become golden then turn the heat up to 200oC and cook for a further 10 to 15 minutes if necessary.
Rolled out dough and spread with butter.
Rolling the dough like a swiss roll.
Stretching as I was rolling the dough.
Once dough is stretched and rolled you should get a long dough sausage.
Rolling one piece of the dough into a snail shell.
Rolling your snail dough out to flatted again.
Placing the large rolled out pastry on the base of a large dish.
Ingredients required for your pumpkin pie.
Pie ready to go into to the oven. (I need to work on my pastry skills…)