Thursday, 1 March 2012

Celebrating Saint David’s Day in Wales With A Fiery Welsh Dragon Pie...

St David’s Day falls on the 1st March each year and is widely celebrated here in Wales. Saint David or Dewi Sant as he is known in Welsh, is the National Saint of Wales. 

He was born in the fifth century-possibly 588 AD although the records are not absolutely clear...The legends are endless about St David.

Today, on 1st March, there will be much celebrating with parades and festivals. Locally many children attending primary school will be dressed in Welsh national costume and adults will wear a leek or daffodil in their lapel. The leek and daffodil being both emblems of Wales.

 All soldiers in Welsh battalions in the British army will also wear a leek on their berets. The rest of us will probably choose to wear a daffodil!


Red Dragon Pie

Red Dragon Pie is one of my favourites and I feel that it deserves to be show-cased on this day of all days...

There are many recipes around for this traditional dish, and everyone will have their personal preference. For myself, I don’t like the filling to be too dry, so use more tinned tomato to keep it moist and to give it a little more oomph add a very generous amount of chilli-after all- it is a dragon pie! I used some more of my dried chillies from last year’s crop and have to say perhaps one or two of them were a bit fiery... 

Red Dragon Pie actually gets its name from having Aduki beans which the Chinese call red dragon beans. I have used lots of red vegetables topped with soft mashed potato covered with grated cheese. The cheese is, of course, Welsh in origin, a mixture of the creamy Caerphilly cheese, and the ultra strong and fantastically tasty cheddar-like Black Bomber from Snowdonia
And, after a recent post by Charles over at  who suggested using a little port in his French Onion soup recipe, I thought I would try it in my Red Dragon pie. I have to say it worked, as there was a lovely richness to the flavour. Thank you Charles for the suggestion!

230g Aduki beans-tinned
400g plum tomatoes-tinned
I red onion chopped
1 large plump clove of garlic-crushed
1 large plump fresh red chilli or 3-4 dried chillies
2 tbsp of chopped fresh Thyme
1 large glass of red wine
1 small glass of port
200g of grated Welsh cheese
55g basmati and wild rice
1 tbsp of British Extra Virgin Rapeseed Oil
500g potato
1 tbsp of Marigold Stock Powder
225 carrot cut into batons
2 tbsp of Tamari (light Soy sauce)


Peel the potatoes and cut into small chunks and boil until just soft. Once cooked, retain the cooking water in case it is needed later in the cooking. Allow the drained potatoes to gently steam and dry out, once dry, mash with a fork. I used King Edward which is a very nice floury potato.

In another pan, cook the rice according to the packet’s instructions until they would need just another 5 minutes more as they will continue cooking in the pie. I like to use a mix of basmati and wild rice for texture.

Heat the oven to 180C

In a large pan, fry the chopped onion and carrot batons in the rapeseed oil until lightly golden. Add the red wine and port and simmer for a couple of minutes to burn off the alcohol. Add the crushed garlic, chopped Thyme, chopped chilli, Tamari and the contents of the can of plum tomatoes and the can of aduki beans. Gently simmer for 10-15 minutes to reduce then add the cooked rice. Continue to gently simmer and reduce until nicely moist. You want it quite succulent in texture so the mixture doesn’t turn out too dry but on the other hand you don’t want it too liquidy or your mashed potato will sink! Transfer to a large casserole dish and then top with the mashed potato and then the grated cheese-be very generous with the cheese. 

Place in the hot ovan and heat for 10 minutes or so until all is bubbling and golden brown...

Red Dragon Pie is a classic vegetarian pie. I do feel it deserves wider recognition on Wales’s National Day. 

With the added red wine and port to give depth and warmth to this unctuous dish together with the oomph of the extra hot chilli and the wonderful crusty cheese topping-well the result is I have to say, sublime...

Just dip your fork into a succulent sample of this...
But beware of dragons...


  1. I've never heard of this but it sounds delicious. I definitely like the idea of adding port to it - Yum.

    1. Hi Liz,

      Not a ‘typical’ Welsh dish of course but a veggie classic which has been around for a number of years but everybody makes their own version. It can be a little on the dry side for me hence I make sure I have the filling nice and succulent before adding the potato topping. The port really did add to the tomato richness-something I’m sure you would appreciate!

  2. This is definitely one to try. I haven't used Aduki beans for ages, now I have a good excuse to get re-acquainted with them. Your photographs are so good I swear I can smell the cooked cheese in Lincolnshire! Happy St David's Day!

    1. Hi Elaine,

      And Happy St David’s Day to you too! I don’t know if you have a saint associated with Lincolnshire and celebrate him/her at all-no doubt you will be up on the research knowing you!!

      Have to say I really had to search for Aduki beans this year from my local supermarkets. I don’t know whether it is now an ‘unfashionable’ bean or they were just in short supply when I looked...

      And thank you for your kind comments about my photos. I did mean to take one as I cut the pie open but what with the aroma of that melting cheese, hunger took over and it just got forgotten!

  3. Happy St David's Day ! I wish my mother in law would welcome us with a dish like this one when we get there on Saturday...

    1. Hi Celine,

      Many thanks for stopping by and leaving a kind comment. And happy St David’s Day to you too! Do hope you have a lovely dish to welcome you from your mother in law when you visit...

  4. looks great, loving the photographs, would agree with liz re almost being able to smell the cheese. Happy St David's Day - daffodil's aplenty!!

    1. Hi Wobblymouse,

      Love the daffodils too! And happy St David’s Day to you as well!

      I’ll keep working on trying to do better photos...

  5. I had never heard of this. Looks really delicious. "Add a very generous amount of red chilly" I like that...! And the crust looks so inviting.

    Love your daffodils. They have a beautiful contrast of pale yellow on the outer petals and a darker yellow in the center.

    1. Hi Sri,

      Many thanks again for dropping by...

      I do love daffodils and you are so right-some do have a lovely contest of colour...

      Do give the Red Dragon Pie a go-the ‘rather generous’ chilli really adds to the dish and that cheesy crust....yum, yum yum....

  6. Oh I have so missed being in blogland and am catching up with my blog reads.

    I so agree with you about this dish being on the dry side, so more moisture the better - even if it is port :) I also like the fiery aspect of your dish, esp. as its homegrown chillies!

    I've had black bomber cheese once, given to me by family as a pressie. I need to get me some just to share with the husband. He likes his cheeses. Warm wishes Green Dragonette.

    1. Hi Shaheen,

      Many thanks for stopped by-it means to much to me that you do...
      Black Bomber is a lovely tasty cheese and added to the topping of mashed potato is very, very delicious...I do hope you like it!

      Best wishes,

  7. Now how come I've never come across Red Dragon Pie before? Having just come from Shaheen's blog where she has obviously featured it in the past, I obviously haven't been as attentive as I should and have consequently missed out big time. AND I just found out that St David was vegetarian too. It sounds a wonderfully comforting dish and giving it a bit of chilli fire should just about keep us all awake after eating it!

    1. Hi Choclette,

      Now you know you have to give it a go and make it!!

      Go on...I dare you...

    2. Haven't made it yet, but I have bookmarked it - that's a start at least :-S

    3. Do hope you enjoy it when you do!

  8. "All soldiers in Welsh battalions in the British army will also wear a leek on their berets"

    I'm guessing you mean a pin, right? The idea of a whole load of soldiers walking around with full-size leeks strapped to their heads has me giggling :D

    Delicious looking dish - the first picture looks wonderful - check out those rich colours!

    1. Some do have some real leeks or daffodils whilst others simply have a badge-whatever you do-you don’t giggle or laugh...

  9. Woah, looks so delicious... vegetarian pie with cheese.... urrmmm, sure makes me feel hungry...

    1. Hi Lrong,

      Thanks for stopping by,

      I do like melting cheese too...just the aroma makes me feel hungry too...

  10. Very interesting I had never heard of this either but it has given me all sorts of ideas.

    1. Hi Becky-can’t wait for your American take on this!!

  11. Never heard of red dragon pie before but it sounds delicious especially with the addition of red wine and port. Dumb question, how large is a "large glass" and how small is a "small glass"?
    Love your daffodils, mine are just budding.

    1. Hi Norma, many thanks again for stopping by. I wasn’t really sure myself when you asked so have just measured wine glass is 200ml and my port glass is 50ml. Have to say I just ‘gestimate’ when cooking...

    2. Had to ask since my large may be so much larger than yours and my small may be a large to you, after all we are talking about red wine and port, lol.

    3. No problem Norma-happy to help!


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