Umami Stacks

umamestack1My husband came home from work early yesterday, which gave us a rare mid-week chance to cook dinner together.

“What I want,” he said, “is some sort of pastry. Little rounds topped with feta cheese and…I don’t know what. What’s out in the garden?”

“Pak choi, asparagus, artichokes…” I began. “Artichokes would be good.”

“Yeah, but a lot of work.”

“Not if you use last year’s canned ones—there are still some left.”

Before we knew it, we had concocted these incredible little pastries. We called them umami stacks for their dose of umami-rich ingredients. They were as beautiful as they were delicious. With mid-week meals like this, it’s no wonder we never bother to go out to eat.

We measured nothing, but here’s an approximation of a recipe…

Make your favourite pie crust—enough for a double-crust pie. Roll thin and cut into 8-10 cm (3-4 inch) rounds. Arrange the rounds on ungreased baking sheets and chill until you’re ready to use (my recipe made 24 rounds).

Toast a few tablespoons of sesame seeds in a dry skillet until browning. Grind them in a mortar and pestle with some coarse salt and black peppercorns. Set aside.

Slice a generous handful of portobello mushrooms, and sauté with a little garlic. Set aside.

Steam 10 asparagus spears. Remove 8-10 cm tips and set aside. Chop the remaining stems.

Mix in a large bowl, mashing slightly:

  • feta cheese (about 125 g)
  • canned artichokes (1 pint jar)
  • spinach (several good handfuls, cooked well)
  • fresh dill weed (a handful, chopped)
  • 1 egg
  • the chopped asparagus

Spread a dollop of the feta mixture on each pastry round. Top with a few slices of mushroom and an asparagus tip. Sprinkle with the sesame seed mixture.

Bake at 190°C (375°F) until the pastry is lightly browned—15-20 minutes.


*We had six pastry rounds left over. I spread them with softened butter, sugar, and cinnamon, rolled them up, and baked them with the umami stacks. Mmmmm!

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