Making your own pie from scratch can be daunting for some, but the truth about ready-made Great British pies is much scarier. The majority are processed, containing over half our recommended daily allowance of salt and limited nutritional value.
We’re here to counter that by celebrating British Pie Week with some of our favourite healthy, savoury pie recipes, full of fresh ingredients and plenty of the nutrients we need. Here are some to try for yourself:
Butternut Squash and Spinach Filo Pie
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
This quick and easy pie is packed full of flavour whilst the filo pastry contains only a 10th of the saturated fat of more traditional shortcrust and puff pastry options.
- 1 butternut squash (about 1kg), peeled, deseeded and cut into a 2cm dice
- 2 red onions, cut into wedges
- 1 tsp red chilli flakes
- 400g bag of spinach
- 100g feta cheese, crumbled
- 4 sheets of filo pastry
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Green salad, to serve (optional)
- Preheat your oven to 220C/200C fan/gas mark 7. Place the diced squash, cut onions and chilli flakes in an ovenproof pie dish before seasoning and cooking for 20 minutes until the squash is tender and the onions are starting to crisp at the edges.
- Meanwhile, put your spinach in a colander and pour over a kettleful of boiling water to start the wilting process. Squeeze out any excess liquid before stirring into the cooked squash mix. Dot over the feta, crumple up the sheets of filo pastry and place on top, then brush with the oil.
- Return your pie to the oven for a further 15 minutes until the pastry is golden and crisp and, if you like, serve with a side of green salad.
Cottage Pie with Parsnip Mash
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour 20 minutes
This spin on a British classic pie swaps the traditional potato topping for a lighter, sweeter parsnip alternative that goes beautifully with a whole host of fresh, flavoursome ingredients. Serve it with a side of green vegetables to be sure to get your five-a-day.
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 225g extra lean minced beef
- 1 carrot (85-100g), peeled and finely chopped
- 85g button mushrooms, sliced
- 1-2 sticks celery, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 225g can chopped tomatoes
- 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
- 150ml good quality beef stock
- 5 tbsp red wine
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 700-750g parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
- 2-3 tbsp semi-skimmed milk
- Green vegetables such as broccoli, green beans or peas (optional)
- Put your prepared onion, garlic and minced beef into a non-stick saucepan. Cook over a medium heat for 4-6 minutes or until the mince is coloured all over, stirring frequently. Add the carrot, mushrooms and celery and cook for a further 4-5 minutes before adding the flour and tomato puree. Cook for one more minute while stirring.
- Introduce the tomatoes, herbs, stock, wine and black pepper and mix well. Bring to the boil before reducing the heat, covering and simmering for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. If desired, remove the lid for the last 10 minutes to thicken the meat sauce.
- Meanwhile, cook your parsnips in a separate pan of boiling water for 15-20 minutes or until tender. Drain well and return them to the pan. Mash the cooked parsnips with a potato masher whilst stirring in the milk. Season with black pepper to taste and mix well.
- At the same time, preheat your oven to 200C/180C fan/gas mark 6. Spoon your meat mixture into an ovenproof dish and pile the parsnip mash on top, covering the meat completely. Scoring the surface of the mash using a fork will give it a crispy texture. Bake your pie in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the parsnip topping is golden brown.
- Serve hot with an optional side of cooked green vegetables such as broccoli, green beans or peas.
Lighter Chicken, Bacon and Leek Pie
Prep time: Less than 30 mins
Cook time: 30-60 minutes
This clever variation of another iconic British pie is easy to make and still satisfying despite its lower calorie count. By only putting pastry on top of the pie and using semi-skimmed milk, the saturated fat in each portion can be reduced by up to 40 per cent.
- 1 x 200g chicken breast
- 200ml semi-skimmed milk, plus half a tbsp extra to glaze
- Quarter of an onion, peeled
- 1 bay leaf
- 100g of reduced-calorie, ready rolled puff pastry (roughly a 10x25cm piece)
- Low-calorie spray oil
- 2 bacon medallions, sliced into small pieces
- 200g button mushrooms, larger ones cut in half
- 1 leek, chopped
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- Steamed broccoli (optional)
- Put the chicken breast in a small pan, so the chicken can be poached in the milk. Add the milk, onion and the bay leaf then cover with a lid and simmer gently for 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
- Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6.
- Divide your pastry into two equal rectangles and carefully roll them out until they’re large enough to cover the top of two individual pie dishes. Gently place your pie dishes upside down on the pastry and cut around them to make the pie lids. Any excess pastry should be cut into strips and pressed around the top edge of the pie dishes to help the lids stay in place as the pies bake. Cut a cross in the middle of the pastry lids and set them aside.
- Fry the bacon with one squirt of reduced-calorie spray oil in a non-stick pan. When golden-brown, add the mushrooms along with a tablespoon of water. Cook for two to three minutes before adding the chopped leek. Cook for a further five minutes, breaking up the leek as it softens.
- Remove the chicken from the poaching milk, then strain and reserve the milk before chopping the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
- Stir the chopped chicken into your bacon and vegetable mixture, then add the flour and stir well. Cook for two minutes, add the strained poaching milk and continue to stir. Cook for another two to three minutes or until the sauce has started to thicken.
- Carefully divide your filling between the pie dishes, then brush the edges of your pastry lids with a little milk and place over the filled dishes. Brush the pastry lids all over with the last of the milk and bake for 25 minutes or until the lids are golden brown.
- Serve immediately with steamed broccoli, if desired.