Fish pie is one of my ultimate comfort foods. I very rarely deviate from my favourite combination of cod, smoked haddock and salmon with plenty of parsley sauce and a fluffy mashed potato topping. Occasionally a few leeks will make it into the pie and, rarer still, a layer of spinach.
My son is similarly fond of this thoroughly British classic and I usually make and freeze mini portions in large ramekins for him. As Winter eases into Spring, I can't help but feel that making fish pie is a bit labour intensive and perhaps more suited to the cooler months. This speedy version is much more in keeping with the season and a doddle to make. You don't need to pre-cook the fish or make a white sauce - you simply assemble a few ingredients, make a bit of mashed potato and pop the pie/s in the oven. The 'sauce' is simply a mixture of crème fraîche and pesto and gives a distinctly Spring-like feel to comforting dish. I have yet to discover a toddler who doesn't like pesto so wasn't surprised that it went down well with mine. I loved this too and would certainly make it for the whole family if it weren't for Mr LBG's strange aversion to pesto.
The idea for this dish came from the latest issue of 'Feel Good Food' magazine - one of my favourites. Their recipe is for a full-sized pie and contains hard boiled eggs and peas but I decided to make mini pies for my son and adapted the recipe slightly (no eggs, extra 'hidden' vegetables, a different mix of fish and full fat dairy). The recipe is very flexible - you could use any mix of fish (though I'd probably leave out smoked fish as I'm not sure it would go well with the pesto), add prawns, add softened leeks or blanched florets of broccoli according to taste.
My son has a fairly hearty appetite and my Le Creuset mini cocotte dishes are bigger than most ramekins and so I made four pies but you could easily make 5 pies using slightly smaller ramekins. Apologies for the rather rushed photos - my son has little appreciation for the art of food photography and was distinctly unimpressed by having to wait for his lunch. He was most vocal about the situation so I had to dish up in haste!
Mini pesto fish pies
Adapted from 'Feel Good Food' Spring 2014
Makes 4-5 mini pies (dependent on size of ramekins/containers)
For the mash:
500g floury potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
4 tbsp milk
Knob of butter
200ml crème fraîche
4 tsp fresh pesto
400g mixed fish, cut into small chunks (I used salmon, cod and haddock)
4 tbsp frozen peas
small handful spinach, very finely chopped
1. Pre-heat oven to 180C. Make the mash; peel and chop the potatoes and boil or steam until soft. Mash with milk and butter and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, mix 4 tbsp of the crème fraîche with the pesto. Add the chunks of fish, frozen peas and spinach. Stir gently to combine.
3. Divide the fish mixture between four or five large ramekins or mini pie dishes. Ensure you scrape out all the sauce! Add the remaining crème fraîche to the mashed potatoes and use to top each of the pies.
4. At this point, you could freeze the pies to cook another day. Alternatively, bake for approx 25 minutes.