Sabrina Ghayour on planning ahead and comfort food

PUBLISHED: 00:00 11 November 2020

Sabrina Portrait (c) Kris Kirkham

Sabrina Portrait (c) Kris Kirkham

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A crowd-pleaser vegetarian recipe that’s great comfort food

SimplySimply

November has rolled round quicker than you can say Guy Fawkes and I find myself already mentally leaping ahead to planning what semblance of Christmas we are allowed to enjoy. Far be it from me to put a dampener on things when, au contraire, I’m far more of a spirit-lifter and I fully intend on going as bonkers as possible when December hits… albeit with the smaller version of the jumbo Christmas I had planned. In light of this, November will have to be a chilled-out month for me. October came like a hurricane, work and filming requests came in thick and fast and for the first time since the nasty virus struck the nation, I found myself in the familiar fast-paced, headless chicken-like frenetic pace that I’m usually more familiar with when life is normal and pandemics don’t limit our work, movements and life.

I have been slowly building up my stash of wrapping paper, ribbons, cards and Christmas crackers… squirreling away little presents and stocking fillers, here and there… writing meal plans and prep sheets, because yes even food for 3 or 4 people can become a tidal wave of overwhelming destruction in a kitchen when you don’t think matters through carefully. Too many things on the hob, not enough time for everything in the oven, things you could have and should have made the night before or in advance… then back up supplies to support the in between meal hunger pangs and cravings.

It all takes planning! I always think about that line in the movie Pretty Woman when Julia Roberts turns to Richard Gere and says ‘I’m actually, no I’m not a planner… I wouldn’t say I was a planner, I would say I’m more of a kind of ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ gal… moment to moment… that’s me’. The only real reason I remember it is because that couldn’t be further from the kind of girl I actually am. My name is Sabrina Ghayour… and I’m a planner.

This month’s recipe is a no-brainer… my beetroot and feta lattice is a quick dish that came together using three simple ingredients I had in the fridge; puff pastry, feta cheese and vacuum-packed beetroot and the result is pretty fantastic and a surprising crowd-pleaser. You don’t need any pastry skills to put this together and it really does look quite impressive when served up. That perfect balance of a sweet, salty and creamy filling encased in puff pastry is comfort food personified. Hot or cold, side dish or main, it’s a winner.

Beetroot and feta latticeBeetroot and feta lattice

Beetroot & feta lattice

Serves 4 – 6

400g vacuum-packed cooked beetroot in natural juice (or peeled, cooked whole fresh beetroots)

1 heaped teaspoon dried wild oregano

1 teaspoon chilli flakes

300g vegetarian feta cheese

1 x 320g ready-rolled all-butter puff

pastry sheet

beaten egg, to glaze

freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan), Gas Mark 6. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Coarsely grate the beetroot. Place in a sieve and squeeze out as much of the beetroot’s juices as you can without mashing it. Tip into a mixing bowl with the oregano, chilli flakes and a generous amount of pepper, then loosely crumble in the feta and give everything a good mix.

Cut the pastry sheet in half lengthways to form 2 long rectangles (one for base of the lattice and one for the top). Lay the pastry base on the prepared baking tray and spoon the filling along its length, then use your hands to neatly pack and compress the filling into a sausage shape, leaving a 1cm border of pastry.

Take the pastry top and make a series of small diagonal cuts in rows, leaving a 3cm border of uncut pastry (or cut an alternative pattern of your choosing). Lay the pastry top over the filling, carefully stretching it to cover the filling, then tuck the edges underneath the pastry base to neaten and hide the seam. Press the edges down firmly to seal, then brush beaten egg over all the exposed pastry. Bake for 25–30 minutes, or until the pastry is deep golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve hot or cold, cut into slices.

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