Last week, I was really craving some Maltese qassatat. These are the fast food of Malta, along with the pastizzi, square pizza, sausage rolls and various pies. In almost every village you will find that small shop selling these tasty snacks.
I had never made them before, but knowing I would not find something similar here in Budapest, I thought I would give it a try and make them myself.
Traditionally, the qassata is usually a pastry pocket filled with either ricotta cheese or a pea mixture. When we first moved to Budapest, we relied on prepacked supermarket ricotta, which is quite different to what we were used to in Malta. In the meantime, we discovered Orda at one of the cheese sellers, which is a local type of curd cheese and is quite similar to Maltese ricotta.
So I decided to give the pea mixture a go… It can be done with dried peas, fresh peas or canned peas. I only got my hands on canned ones this time but I have to admit that the dried peas give the best taste.
I started by making the shortcrust pastry – recipe here. While this was chilling, I followed on the pea filling. The filling is very easy to make and you can adjust the ingredients according to your taste. It took me some time to make the actual qassatat and achieve a shape that is close to the ‘real’ ones. This is the result on my first attempt… I know they do not look exactly like they should be but they were delicious! And as the saying goes… practice makes perfect… so I am going to keep on trying and in the meantime enjoy these delicious pies! 🙂
Here’s the recipe:
Traditional Maltese Qassatat
A traditional Maltese street food recipe.
For the Pea filling:
- 250g dried peas / 2 x400g canned peas
- 1 medium onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 50g green olives, pitted
- 50g kalamata olives, pitted
- frozen spinach leaves
- chili pepper (optional)
- 2-4 anchovy fillets (optional)
- salt & pepper
- olive oil
- 1 egg, beaten
- If using dried peas, rinse and let them soak overnight. Cook them in a pot of slightly salted water until soft and tender. Set them aside to cool.
- Finely chop the onion, garlic, chili pepper, olives and anchovies. In a large pot, heat a tablespoon of olive oil and sauté the onion until soft and transparent. Add the rest of the ingredients (except for the peas, spinach and egg) and sauté for another minute.
- Add the peas and the spinach and combine well. Cook for 10 minutes. Check the seasoning and make sure that all ingredients are well incorporated together.
- Remove from the heat and let it cool well before putting it on the pastry.
- Preheat the oven to 180 degree Celsius.
- Roll out the pastry on a floured surface and cut in circles 15 cm in diameter.
- Put a heaped tablespoon of the filling in the middle of the circle and wet the edges of the pastry with some water. Pleat the edges leaving a gap in the centre. The water ensures that the edges stick together and the pleats remain in place while in the oven. Brush the qassatat with an egg wash.
- Bake for about 20-25 minutes. Oven time depends on the size of the qassatat and the amount you put in the oven.