Recipes | Mac & Cheesy Greens Filo Pie 


Mac & Cheesy Greens Filo Pie 

I absolutely love a pie so was immediately grabbed by the idea of this Mac & Cheesy Greens Filo Pie from Anna Shepherd's gorgeous new book Love Vegetables.

Anna writes: "A pasta pie might seem indulgent (bonkers, even?) on paper, but as a Big Fan of Stanley Tucci, this is my homage to the Timpano in his film Big Night. The Big Night pie consists of layers of pasta, meatballs, eggs, salami, tomato sauce and more pasta, but this one is a great deal lighter.

Verdant macaroni and cheese is encased in a delicate filo pastry shell, making this an easy but beautiful crowd-pleaser. Serve with a dressed salad, chipped tomatoes, or roasted root vegetables on the side. 

Timings: 1 hour, plus resting time

Serves 6 

750ml whole milk 

2 bay leaves 

2 garlic cloves 

75g unsalted butter, melted, plus 50g

8 sheets of filo pastry 

250g spinach, chard, or spring greens 

Leaves from a large bunch of parsley 

Leaves from a large bunch of basil 

400g macaroni

50g plain white flour 

100g cheddar, grated 

125g ball mozzarella, torn 

50g parmesan, grated 

1 tbsp dijon mustard 

¼ whole nutmeg

½ tsp nigella seeds 

Salt & pepper 

Preheat the oven to 180℃ / 350℉. 

Pour the milk into a saucepan and add the bay leaves and garlic cloves. Heat the milk over a medium heat, until bubbles appear around the sides of the pan, but watch carefully, ensuring the milk doesn’t come to the boil. Remove the pan from the heat, crack in a generous amount of black pepper, pour into a jug and cover. Set aside to infuse while you get on with the rest. 

Brush the base and sides of a 23cm/ 9 inch round springform tin with melted butter, then line the base with baking parchment. Lay a sheet of filo pastry over the tin, then tuck any overhanging filo into the tin and brush all over with melted butter. Repeat with another 5 sheets of filo pastry, brushing each layer with melted butter, then cover the remaining two sheets of filo pastry with a clean tea towel to prevent them from cracking and drying out. 

Rinse the spinach (or other greens) in a colander, then transfer to a large saucepan and cover with a lid. Wilt over a medium–low heat, using tongs to turn the leaves occasionally. When the greens are deep green and have reduced significantly in volume, transfer to a colander and allow to steam dry. Fill the pan with water (there’s no need to wash it up), and place on the hob to boil. 

Squeeze the greens dry and transfer to the bowl of a food processor with the parsley and basil, then lift out the garlic cloves from the milk and add them to the greens. Pulse to finely chop, and set aside. Alternatively, very finely chop by hand in 2-3 batches. 

When the water in the saucepan has come to the boil, tip the pasta in along with a tablespoon of salt. Cook for two minutes less than packet instructions, then drain in a colander. 

While the pasta is on the boil, make the cheesy sauce. Melt the remaining butter in a large saucepan over a medium–low heat. Add the flour and stir for a couple of minutes to cook out the rawness from the flour. Stirring all the time, slowly pour in the infused milk and continue to cook for about 8 minutes, stirring often, until the sauce has thickened enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheeses, mustard and finely grate in the nutmeg. Remove the bay leaves, then add the greens and herbs to the sauce. Taste and add more salt and pepper if you like. 

Use a spatula to pour the cheesy green sauce over the pasta, then stir well to coat every piece of pasta. Spoon the saucy pasta into the partially baked pastry case, then drape a sheet of filo over the top and brush the surface with melted butter. Arrange the final filo sheet in an attractive ruffle and brush again with more melted butter. Sprinkle over the nigella seeds and place the pie on the middle shelf in the oven. 

Bake the pie for 30 minutes, checking after 20 minutes in case your oven has a hot spot, and the pie would benefit from a turn to cook the pastry evenly. Remove the pie from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 20 minutes. This will ensure the slices don’t collapse as soon as you cut into it, but it will still be meltingly hot. 

Release the pie from the springform tin and transfer to a serving plate. Use a serrated knife to cut the pie into 6 slices. Serve with a dressed salad, chopped tomatoes, or roasted root vegetables on the side. 


  • Use the same quantity of curly kale or cavolo nero (remove the tough pale ribs before steaming) instead of the leafy greens 

What to drink: I'd probably go for a smooth dry white wine with this rather than a red. A Soave or a Bianco di Custoza, for instance.

Extracted from Love Vegetables by Anna Shepherd published by White Lion Publishing at £20. Photography by Liz and Max Haarala Hamilton. 

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