The Everlasting King: A Golden Crown of Filo Pie
The name may sound dramatic, but it references two of the key ingredients in this toothsome, rich, vegetarian pie. A wild herb called “life everlasting” lends its unique curry-like fragrance to the vegetables by being used as a smoke, and fresh King boletes give a delightful umami-rich buttery flavor to the preparation. Filled with mushrooms, butternut squash, orange cauliflower, and plenty of spices, this flaky delicacy is fit for royalty. I tested this recipe out on my dad, and he described it as “meatier than meat” and “I could live on this alone.” Pretty high praise indeed! Be sure to save the leftovers for the next day, as the flavors will have had even more time to meld and create a delicious breakfast, snack, lunch, or dinner.
What a lovely surprise it is on the years that mushroom season begins early. Suddenly I start scanning the forest floor, looking for any sign of orange or brown that might lead to a chanterelle or porcini. I distinctly remember the first time I found porcini mushrooms in the wild. They looked like a bunch of big fluffy bread buns scattered in a mossy clearing, but as I approached I could see the sturdy stalks below holding up fluffy caps. Most were bigger than my head! I sat down amongst them and could almost feel a physical connection to these regal mushrooms. It’s no wonder that they have earned the name of “King.” Porcinis are rich and buttery in flavor with layers and layers that just go deeper on the palate. I love adding them to recipes for their buttery richness.
Another plant that stops me in my tracks when I’m out exploring is Life Everlasting (Helichrysum stoechas), which is related to Pearly Everlasting, its much more well-known relative due to its reported healing properties. But, my friends, do not look over Life Everlasting. It has the most bewitching smell, like curry and maple and maybe a hint of lavender. It smells decidedly exotic but also earthy and beautiful. As an herb, it’s extremely strong and bitter so I hesitate adding it to recipes. But oh, the smell of steam and smoke it gives off! I could barely pull myself away from the grill while it was smoking the ingredients for this beautiful hearty filo pie.
Now, I can’t promise that this pie will turn you into a king and ensure your reign remain immortal (that’s an awful lot to ask of a pastry), but I can tell you that it is a rustic but beautiful dinner worthy of a king, and it’s easy to feel like woodland royalty as soon as you take a bite. Earthy, smoky, cheesy, flaky - this pie just can’t be beat!
1 medium butternut squash
2 extra large porcinis (about 3 cups when sliced)
A small head of orange cauliflower
3 cups of Life Everlasting, fresh or dried
24 oz chevre goat cheese
1 ½ tbs. Finely chopped sage
1 Tbs. smoked paprika
½ tsp. Turmeric
Salt and pepper to taste
About 1 c. melted butter
First, read the instructions on your package of filo to defrost it properly.
Cut the butternut squash in half and microwave it until the skin can be pierced with a fork. Remove from microwave and peel off the skin, scoop out the seeds, and cut into bite-sized chunks. Toss with a little olive oil and some salt and pepper to taste. Place on a grill-safe wire rack.
Fire up the grill to a medium temperature. Place the rack of squash near the front so the flame isn’t directly beneath it. Gently moisten the Life Everlasting using a spray bottle and place it on the back of the grill, above the flames. Immediately close the grill.
Cut the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces and toss them with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place them on another rack in the skin. Stir/flip the squash at this point to make sure it’s being evenly cooked.
Slice the King boletes (porcinis) into ¼” slices. Toss with olive oil and salt and pepper and add them to the grill rack too. Close the lid of the grill and let everything cook and infuse for about 10 mintues. Check and stir. Continue cooking (with the lid closed as much as possible) until the squash is tender, the cauliflower is starting to be, and the mushrooms are cooked thoroughly without being soggy. Everything should have a subtle fragrance of Life Everlasting’s curry/maple flavor.
Remove the veggies from the grill and toss them with the sage, paprika, turmeric, and salt and pepper to taste. Add in chunks of goat cheese too.
Turn the oven to 375. Unroll the filo pastry and, working quickly, gently press one half sheet at a time into a greased bundt pan. Once each sheet is in place, brush liberally with butter. Repeat the layering process (and don’t forget the middle) until the filo is about 6 layers thick all over the pan.
Fill the pan with the prepared filling, packing it down well. Fold the filo around the edges at the top over to cover part of the top. Add another 6 layers of filo, tucking the edges under for better presentation.
Bake for 1 hour and 20-30 minutes, or until the pastry is nice and golden. (If the top is cooking too quickly, cover it with a pan or some aluminum foil to prevent it from burning.)
Gently remove from oven and allow to cool for 1 hour. Then turn out onto a serving dish and enjoy!
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