Chicken, cauliflower and sweet corn pie with a crunchy courgette crust

I got the idea for the filling of this pie from a very successful chicken and sweet corn soup. The idea for the topping came from needing to invent a healthier alternative to pastry, and looking for a way to stop the zucchini from turning everything soggy.

This is a great way of using up leftover chicken. But if you have bought a couple of uncooked chicken breasts poach them simply by putting them into a small frying pan, covering them with stock (it should be about an inch/2 cm higher than the chicken, adding a couple bay leaves and whatever fresh herbs you have to hand. Bring to a simmer, and keep it simmering gently (if you boil hard, the chicken won’t cook quicker, it will just become tough). Cook until the chicken is cooked through – 10-15 minutes.

It looks like a lot of steps, but essentially you fry the onion and garlic, make a roux, add the liquids to make a sauce, and add the filling – the chicken, cauliflower, mushrooms and sweet corn.

Then you make the topping for the pie by mixing dried zucchini with breadcrumbs, slivered almonds, some cauliflower stalk and parmesan and binding the lot together with an egg.

But yes – it could take an hour to prepare.

You can make the pie ahead of time, reheating, uncovered, in a 180°C for twenty minutes, or until it’s hot enough. If you think the topping could do with a bit of crunching up, put it under the grill for a minute or two, but take care that the almonds don’t start to burn.

This makes a pie for six – or two pies for three. If you are planning to divide it in that way, make two pies, rather than one larger one and leaving in the same dish as it tends to collapse in on itself.

chicken and cauliflower pie with a courgette topping
chicken and cauliflower pie with a courgette topping
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