Hunza Pie

by Lori on February 14, 2012

Over the past five months or so, I’ve watched the angle of the summer sun flatten and slowly lose its dimension until the earth lay silent and still under the graceful shadow of winter light.  It’s an expected, anticipated cycle that comes with the passage of seasons.  A time to move slowly finding comfort and renewal indoors instead of out.

 

But in the garden, especially for the roses, these are the days when I move with intent.  Taming the prickly canes that have stretched to seek sunlight amidst the blur of winter’s shadow, removing the weathered, brittle leaves that barely cling from summer past, tending to the damp blanket of leaves that has accumulated beneath the rose bushes most sheltered from the whipping winter wind.  It’s a lot of work to restore order to 40 rose bushes, but it’s part of the cycle that continually circulates like a wheel bringing about growth, change and renewal with great certainty and predictability.  I enjoy the hope that it brings.

The garden, now pruned and formal, remains dark and quiet.  But ready.  Ready to receive the emerging spring sun.  Ready to become light and full of possibility.

The cycle is repeating, dictating every change with its movement.  Each hour, each minute different than the one before.  And waiting for the next is often the hardest part.  But there is no way to rush or cut into the cycle, to pick one part over another and leave the rest.  No.

You must savor each slice and enjoy each part of the sequence.

 

Hunza Pie

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 4-6 servings

Serving Size: 1 slice

I had never heard of such a thing as a Hunza Pie until my friend Tracey introduced me to it. She brought the recipe for the filling with her to the U.S. from her favorite vegetarian restaurant in New Zealand where it was served in a cheese crust. This savory Hunza Pie is a favorite and if you have vegetarians coming over for brunch, lunch or dinner, make this. They will love you for it!

Ingredients

    For the crust:
  • 1 1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, diced
  • For the filling:
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt (not Greek yogurt)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1 heaping cup baby spinach, coarsely chopped
  • For the topping:
  • 3 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs
  • Paprika

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. To prepare the crust, place the flour, salt, ground mustard, cayenne pepper, and cheese into a medium-sized bowl. Add in the diced, cold bits of butter and begin working the flour mixture and butter with your fingers to create a crumbly consistency.
  3. Once the butter is worked in, pour into a 9-inch springform pan (or deep dish pie plate) and begin pressing the dough evenly onto the bottom and partially up the sides. Set aside.
  4. To prepare the filling, add the yogurt, garlic, curry powder, salt and pepper and mix well. Add the cheese, brown rice and spinach and mix to incorporate.
  5. Pour filling into the dough-lined springform pan and spread evenly.
  6. Sprinkle the top with panko bread crumbs and paprika.
  7. Place springform pan onto center rack of oven and bake for 45 minutes.
  8. Cool in pan for 5 minutes before releasing springform. Cut into wedges and serve warm.

Notes

This is a great way to use up any left over brown rice that may be hanging around in your refrigerator (or freezer). We are big brown rice eaters around here, so I always have some in my freezer. Just thaw it before using.

Do not use Greek yogurt. It will be too thick and result in a dry filling.

Be careful to pour off any liquid that may have formed in the plain yogurt container before measuring the amount needed for this recipe. One of my pies began leaking bits of liquid through the bottom of the springform pan. I can only attribute this to the liquidity of the yogurt as the crust was made and assembled with the same ingredients and method. Further, when I sliced into the pie, the crust seemed "wet" on the bottom but not on the sides.

Store any left over pie in a container in the refrigerator. It keeps well for a few days and the crust maintains its crispness even when warmed up.

I used a small stainless steel measuring cup to help press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the springform pan, which is a little trick I picked up in one of Ina Garten's cookbooks.

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Cate February 14, 2012 at 9:32 pm

This looks great- I definitely plan on making a gluten-free version when I get to cooking New Zealand food. Thanks so much for the recipe and inspiration!

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Lori February 15, 2012 at 8:11 pm

Cate, a gluten free version would be so easy to do with this recipe.

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Migle February 15, 2012 at 8:41 am

Oh, how I would love a piece of this pie now!…
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Lori February 15, 2012 at 8:12 pm

Migle, I can email you a slice ;)

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Nancy@acommunaltable February 15, 2012 at 11:52 am

I have had a very similar recipe in my file for a couple of years and have yet to make it and now I can’t wait to – it sounds wonderful and a great way to use up leftover rice!!

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Lori February 15, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Nancy, I think it’s time to jump in! You will love it.

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Katie {Epicurean Mom} February 16, 2012 at 6:40 am

I just love reading your writing. So deep, thoughtful and expressive. Your photography has always been fantastic but wow, it’s getting just gorgeous! Love this recipe! Can’t wait to try it!!
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Lori February 19, 2012 at 9:02 pm

Katie, what a lovely comment. You made my evening! I’m really pushing myself on the photography and enjoying creating spots with moody light around my house. These shots were done in my garage. Not a glamorous studio by any means, but you gotta do what you gotta do!

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Let Me Eat Cake February 16, 2012 at 9:55 am

Living in LA I don’t get much seasonal variation but the thought of it is so lovely! I’ve never heard of Hunza pie but it looks so incredible thanks for sharing the recipe :)
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Jennifer (Delicieux) February 17, 2012 at 1:14 am

I’ve never heard of Hunza pie, but I do know it looks delicious! I’m bookmarking this to try. The brown rice filling sounds really interesting.
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Lori February 19, 2012 at 8:58 pm

Jennifer, Being from Australia, I thought you would have heard of Hunza Pie. Maybe it’s just a New Zealand thing. Regardless, the filling is so good and interesting with the curry. I absolutely love it and hope that you feel the same way too.

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Rosa February 17, 2012 at 4:16 am

A beautiful pie! So mouthwatering. I really love that crust.

Cheers,

Rosa

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Lori February 19, 2012 at 8:55 pm

Thanks Rosa! The crust is really good, almost cracker like along the edges, and it holds up well for the leftovers!

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christina February 18, 2012 at 4:10 pm

this looks SO tasty and i just can’t wait to try it. i do have a question. do you think it would be possible to add other vegetables besides the spinach? what about broccoli? do you think it would need to cook longer or be partially cooked prior to assembling the pie?

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Lori February 19, 2012 at 8:54 pm

Christina, I’m not sure if broccoli would work because of the moisture it may add to the filling. That may lead to problems with the crust. My only suggestion would be to try it and perhaps use mostly the florets (chopped). A traditional Hunza Pie is made with what the New Zealanders and Aussies call “silver beet,” which is Swiss Chard as far as I can tell. The bottom line is low moisture output from the veg otherwise the crust is in jeopardy. Let me know how it turns out!

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yummy supper February 23, 2012 at 6:53 pm

Lori, I’ve never heard of a Hunza Pie. How did I miss such deliciousness in New Zealand. I’m gonna try to make a gluten-free version – I love a savory pie!
-Erin
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Lori February 28, 2012 at 11:14 am

Hi Erin,
This is an easy one to adapt for gluten-free eating. There isn’t a lot of information on the Hunza Pie, but everything I read after learning about it from my Kiwi-friend came from blogs in Australia and New Zealand. Whether it is a local offering or found in select hippie-style bistros is unknown. But it’s damn good!

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Magic of Spice February 28, 2012 at 10:57 am

What a stunning pie, and simply delightful recipe!
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Diane and Todd March 2, 2012 at 9:55 pm

Lori, your writing is like poetry and your photographs are equally gorgeous and expressive. And we’re insanely jealous of your 40 rose bushes. xoxo

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Miriam Hoffberg March 20, 2012 at 4:43 pm

I had the priviledge yesterday of eating Hunza Pie made by the chef. I’m just a neighbor that dropped in for a chat. Before plopping myself down, I asked what was in the oven and Lori replied, “Hunza Pie.” Then she provided me with a brief history of its origin. It didn’t sound exciting to me. My main culinary skill is popping the top off a Ragu jar without using a teaspoon to help release the suction. When the pie was done, she offered me a slice. At first I refused. Silly me. She offered again…..oh, okay, I’ll take a small slice. Well. It almost brought tears to my eyes. I’ve never eaten anything like it. She gave me a bigger slice to take home. The Husband Test. Mr. Finicky. Well….not only did he love it…. he said (and I’m quoting exactly here), “This tastes great and helps spice up the bland meal you cooked tonight.” A remark he immediately apologized for. Then he asked me if I could make “something like this.” So, I’m expanding my horizons and I’m going to buy a spring-pan and make a Hunza Pie. It will be the first time I’ve made any kind of pie in my life. Wish me luck.

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Lori March 21, 2012 at 8:25 am

Miriam, You’re killing me with your humor (as always) :). But what really touches me about your comment is that I’ve inspired you to get into your kitchen (and off to the cooking supply store) to try something new. For me, that is the highest compliment. If I can get one person to try a recipe, I feel successful; it’s the core of what this blog is about. I try to provide mouth-watering photographs to entice people to try the recipe, but sometimes tasting is the greatest motivator. I’m so glad you stopped in on Monday. My family and I eat what I feature on this blog and when a good recipe comes along, it gets a lot of play in my kitchen. So glad your timing was met with such a beneficial result. And thank you for the feedback!

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