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 plain flour
- 125 g wholemeal plain flour + extra for rolling out
- 150 g butter chilled, + extra for greasing
- 1 egg lightly beaten
For the Filling
- 500 g potatoes we used a mixture of Anya and Charlottes
- 125 g spring onions
- 1 leek
- 2 tbsp vegetable / sunflower oil
- 30 g butter
- 3 tbsp double cream
- 40 g mature cheddar cheese
- 85 g hard sheeps’ cheese we used Parlick Fell from Sainsburys
- 15 g parsley chopped
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- To make the pastry – Place the flours, and chilled butter into a good sized bowl. Rub the butter into the flours between your thumb and finger tips, until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Make a well in the centre of the breadcrumbs and add the beaten egg. Using a rounded pallet knife, or similar, cut through the mixture to make a dough. You may need to add a little cold water or milk to fully bring the mixture together. Shape the pastry into a ball and flatten into a disc. Wrap in cling film and place into the fridge for at least 30 minutes to chill.
- Cook the potatoes. Clean the potatoes thoroughly (leaving the skin on). Cut into chunks or discs about 2cm cubed. Place into a steamer and cook until tender (see notes ‘c’ below), for about 15 – 20 minutes. Test they are ready with a sharp knife.
- Prepare the ingredients. Whilst the potatoes are cooking prepare the other ingredients. Clean, top and tail the spring onions and cut into 1cm chunks. Wash the leek thoroughly and cut in half and then quarters length ways. Cut the lengths into 2cm strips. Chop the parsley. Grate the cheese. Mix the two cheeses together until roughly combined.
- Cook the filling. Once the potatoes are cooked through, place the vegetable / sunflower oil into a large frying pan and set over a medium heat. Add the prepared leek. Cook gently until it is vibrant green and starting to soften. Stir regularly. Add the spring onions and cook for a further 2 or 3 minutes, continuing to stir regularly. Add the butter and allow it to melt into the vegetables. Add the cooked potatoes and stir through to combine. Once the butter has melted 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. Stir again. Turn off the heat and set aside to cool.
- Pre-heat the oven to 220℃ / 200℃ Fan / 425℉ / Gas 7. Roll out the pastry. Remove the pastry from the fridge. Dust the work surface with a little flour. Unwrap the pastry and set onto the floured surface. Dust the rolling pin with flour. Roll the pastry into a circle about 5mm thick. Hold the pie dish over the pastry to gauge if the pastry is large enough to line the dish. Roll out a little more as necessary.
- Line the pie dish. Grease your 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. .
- Fill the pie. Once the filling is completely cool spoon it into the lined pie dish. Aim to ensure there are no large pockets of air. Scatter the remaining cheese over the top of the filling
- Bake. Place the prepared pie into the centre of the oven and 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.