The ingredients you'll need
- One onion, chopped
- Half a large eggplant, or one small one
- Potatoes. I cheated and used a can because I was in a hurry. Of course, you can use boiled potatoes or even leftover spuds
- Olive oil, or the oil or your choice, for frying
- Frozen pastry - if you make your own, I take my hat of to you! If you use frozen, it needs to be defrosted first according to the directions on the packet
- teaspoon Marmite. If you hate Marmite, and I do, don't worry. The flavor goes!
- A few black olives, chopped quite finely
- Black pepper
- A small pinch of sugar
Prepare the vegetables
PREPARE THE ONIONS
Heat about a tablespoon of oil in a large skillet. Add the chopped onion and a small pinch of sugar. When the onions are heated through turn down the heat to low-medium. The onions need to cook slowly. Stir them occasionally so that they are evenly cooked.
PREPARE THE EGGPLANT
The eggplant simply needs to be cleaned and chopped into cubes. When the onions have been cooking for about fifteen minutes are are soft and translucent, add the eggplant to the pan and stir well. Let them heat through and then turn up the heat; keep stirring.
Prepare the sauce and the pastry
Now that the eggplant and onions are on a high heat, keep stirring until the onion begins to brown. You don't want them to be burnt, of course, but if any smaller pieces start to turn very dark, don't worry. When the onions and eggplant are sizzling, add about a cup and a half of water. Keep some more water nearby because it's hard to tell how much will be absorbed by the eggplant so add more if necessary. The vegetables need to be barely covered. Let this boil briskly just for a few minutes. Add the finely chopped black olives.
ADD THE DREADED MARMITE
Honestly, I can't stand the stuff. He loves it. But it adds a lot of flavor but not a Marmite-y flavor. This is too hard to describe, you'll just have to try the recipe! Add about half a teaspoon to the pan and stir well. Add black pepper too.
ADD THE POTATOES
Simply add the canned or pre-cooked potatoes to the pan. They should be cut into bite sized pieces. Now turn the heat down and let the vegetables simmer.
At this point. our mums would line a pie dish with pastry, add the filling, and then top with even more pastry - and very delicious it was too. But I like to have pastry just on the top - pastry on the bottom too seems to be too heavy for today's palates. So I roll the pastry out and place the pie dish upside down and press. This magically cuts the pastry to the exact size of the pie dish. I cook the pastry in the halogen oven because the large oven heats up the kitchen and uses too much electricity. A toaster oven would do too.
I often hear people in the USA complain that they can't buy Marmite locally. Some areas with a high British population have specialist British food stores but for others, the nearest Marmite is miles away. Although we have a British food store nearby, it tends to be expensive because they import products in small quantities - buying online is much cheaper.
Use convenience foods if you want - they're convenient!
Assemble the dish
Keep stirring the vegetables occasionally while the pastry is cooking. The sauce should be reducing nicely. If it isn't simply add more heat - if it's becoming too thick, add a little water. The potatoes help the gravy to thicken.
Put the peas in a pan with a small knob of butter and heat. They don't need water because the ice surrounding the frozen peas will melt. As soon as hey're warmed through, turn the heat down to a simmer.
Of course you can serve this with any salad but be aware that if you serve it on the same plate, it will get gravy on it. Lettuce and gravy doesn't sound good to me but tomatoes are fine. I simply sliced them and drizzled with a little olive oil and fresh herbs.
Put the filling into the pie dish and top with the cooked pastry. Another advantage of not preparing the entire pie in the oven is that you can use any attractive dish, it doesn't need to be ovenproof. Call your other half into the kitchen and proudly show him the homemade pie you've made for his dinner!
Brilliant halogen ovens
And if you can't buy it locally, the dreaded Marmite!
As you may know, March 14th is Pi Day. This is because that date is 3 (month) and 14 (day), and I'm not mathematical enough to explain to you what pi is - I didn't pay enough attention at school. Nevertheless I know that pi is 3.14. But to me, Pi Day is the perfect excuse to eat pie. Why? Well, look at what 3.14 is when reversed!