Homity Pie is a simple, homely, and nutritious bake just like a great big hug in pie form! It is a vegetarian open pie packed with potatoes, spring onions, leeks, and cheese, and is delicious served either with a green salad or a medley of your favourite vegetables.
The first time that I came across Homity Pie, I seem to recall, was some three or four years ago whilst having lunch in a lovely vegetarian tea room / cafe in the market town of Skipton one chilly November day.
It was listed on the specials board, 'homity pie served with seasonal vegetables'. Not having heard of it, but after quizzing the waitress I quickly decided that I must try it.
Homity Pie is packed full of the humble potato. They're certainly the star of the show. But with a few other basic ingredients, of onions, cheese and parsley, this vegetarian open pie is transformed into a delicious and nutritious family feast.
Having done a little reading about Homity Pie, it transpires that there are two schools of thought about the origins of it (source Wikipedia).
Some say it originates from Devon (calling it Devon Pie), where as others suggest it was a popular dish created by the land girls during the Second World War as a result of rationing.
Wherever the origins of Homity Pie lay, the romantic side of me likes to think of 'Homity' as meaning home or homely, especially as it's such a humble, yet nutritious, vegetarian pie. It's so simple, homely, and nutritious, just like a great big hug in pie form!
By all accounts Cranks, a vegetarian restaurant which was established in London in the early 1960's, popularised this frugal recipe. Although I used the classic Cranks recipe as the starting point for this savoury bake, I added to the ingredients list ever so slightly.
Of course, happily, we're no longer rationed so it seemed a nice idea to
slightly upgrade Homity Pie with the addition of one or two 'extras' which our grandparents back in the 1940's and 50's may have struggled to source.
This Homity Pie consists of two types of potatoes, Anya and Charlotte, and spring onions in place of the usual white onion which we find can be a little strong.
As for the cheese we used two different types: a small amount of a mature cheddar, (after all only a small amount of mature cheese is needed to bring flavour to a dish), and some Parlick Fell, which is a hard goats' cheese and brings a certain amount of creaminess to a recipe.
The milk was replaced with cream. Of course, though, if you fancy trying this hearty vegetarian pie you could use just one variety of potato and cheese if you prefer.
Despite the slight upgrade in ingredients, it's safe to say that this open crust pie is frugal. It's nutritious too with the wealth of vitamins of minerals which are naturally found in potatoes and leeks, and the dairy products of cheese and cream.
The potatoes, having been cooked with their skins on, retained even more of their nutritional value than they would have had they been peeled. – Angela
So, here's how to make Homity Pie!
For the Pastry
- 125 g (4oz) plain flour
- 125 g (4oz) wholemeal plain flour + extra for rolling out
- 150 g (5oz) butter chilled, + extra for greasing
- 1 egg lightly beaten
For the Filling
- 500 g (1lb 2oz) potatoes we used a mixture of Anya and Charlottes
- 125 g (4oz) spring onions
- 1 leek
- 2 tbsp vegetable / sunflower oil
- 25 g (1oz) butter
- 3 tbsp double cream
- 50 g (2oz) mature cheddar cheese
- 75 g (3oz) hard sheeps’ cheese we used Parlick Fell from Sainsburys
- 15 g (½oz) parsley chopped
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 22cm (8-9in) deep pie dish
- Rolling Pin
- To make the pastry – Place the flours, and chilled butter into a good sized bowl. Rub the butter into the flours until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Make a well in the centre of the breadcrumbs and add the beaten egg. Mix to a dough, adding a little cold water or milk to fully bring the mixture together if required. Wrap the pastry and chill for at least 30 minutes.
- Wash the potatoes and cut into chunks or discs about 2cm (1in) cubed. steam until tender about 15 – 20 minutes.
- Whilst the potatoes are cooking prepare the other ingredients. Cut the spring onions into 1 cm (½in) chunks. Wash the leek thoroughly, cut into quarters lengthways, then into 2cm (1in) strips. Chop the parsley. Grate the cheese. Mix the two cheeses together.
- Once the potatoes are cooked through, heat the oil in a large frying pan and set over a medium heat. Add the leek and cook gently until softened. Add the spring onions and cook for a further 2 or 3 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the butter and allow it to melt into the vegetables. Then stir in the cooked potatoes. Add the double cream and half of the cheese, stir again. Allow the cheese to melt and the double cream to start to thicken. Add the parsley. Season to taste. Turn off the heat and set aside to cool.
- Preheat the oven to 220℃ (200℃ fan)/425°F/gas mark 7. Roll the pastry into a circle about 5mm (¼in) thick and large enough to line the pie dish.
- Grease the pie dish with a little butter if it’s not non-stick or metal. Use the rolling pin to gently lift the pastry and lay it gently over the pie dish. Gently ease the pastry into the pie dish. Avoid stretching it. Use a sharp knife to trim away the excess from the rim.
- Once the filling is completely cool spoon it into the lined pie dish. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top of the filling
- Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until the pastry is cooked through and the cheese is starting to brown. Enjoy! Serve either with salad or vegetables.
- Replace the wholemeal flour with white if you prefer.
- You’re likely to have a little pastry left over, you could use this to decorate the crust of the pie – perhaps with pastry leaves or a plait, for instance, or even make a few jam tarts.
- If you don’t have a steamer to cook the potatoes improvise with a colander positioned over a pan of water. Use the pan’s lid to keep the steam inside. Alternatively boil the potatoes until tender.
- Consider cooking extra potatoes with your meal the day before to reduce the energy and time to make Homity Pie.
- This pie could easily be made into individual sized portions making it easier to freeze for another day or package up in a lunch box.