Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Layered Tomato, Zucchini and Eggplant Pie
It's hard not to be inspired by a beautiful garden.
My parents' garden certainly falls into that category. It towers over our backyard. The produce is fed by nutrients from our compost pile. It's overflowing with just about every fruit and veggie you could want. Heirloom tomatoes hang from tall plants. Green beans form a canopy you can walk under. Potatoes, sunchokes and radishes hide underground, just waiting to be dug up. Tomatillos and choke cherries burst out of their wrappers.
Ever-bearing strawberry plants occupy the back portion of the garden, and they're still in fruit this late in the year. In another corner, butternut squash that popped up all on their own (perhaps from rouge seeds from the compost pile) are thriving. Harvested garlic hangs from the rafters in the basement. You'll just need a bit. It's potent stuff.
For the better part of the summer, my parents were out in the garden every day, and they almost always came back with a bowl of goodies.
You can't get much more local than this, and I had to get my my hands dirty while I was visiting last weekend. With my parents proudly showing off their hard work, I harvested the tomatoes, zucchini and eggplant in the afternoon while my whole wheat pie crust was chilling in the fridge.
Minimal cooking and seasoning really ensures the integrity of the vegetables is preserved. The eggplant and zucchini are salted to remove some of the moisture, and then the vegetables are layered in the pan. The veggies get a sprinkling of minced garlic, a drizzle of olive oil, and a dash of salt and pepper before heading into the oven.
Eaten warm, with pan-fried walleye (locally caught by dad) and a raw kale salad from the garden prepared by mom, the pie was just perfect. Each bite exploded with freshness. I went back for seconds. Then I had the leftovers for breakfast. It was that good.
This pie is being submitted to Not Eating Out in New York's Seasonal Pie Contest, where New York City bloggers (and bloggers who can make it to the city) are encouraged to make pies using seasonal ingredients and blog about the pies they make. Check out the post for opportunities to win two tickets to the upcoming Let Us Eat Local fundraiser.
Layered Tomato, Zucchini and Eggplant Pie
recipe adapted from Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes
Note: You might find some liquid at the bottom of your pie when it comes out of the oven. I drained it off and was unable to resist drinking it--it's a delicious warm veggie broth. Despite the extra liquid, the bottom crust still cooked through.
1/2 cup plus two tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons chilled butter, sliced into 1 tablespoon chunks
3 tablespoons ice water
3 heirloom tomatoes, thinly sliced
1/2 medium-sized zucchini, thinly sliced
1 eggplant, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Prepare crust: In the bowl of a food processor, combine flours and salt. Pulse to combine. Add chunks of chilled butter. Process for about 10 seconds, until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.
Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl. Add 3 tablespoons ice water, and use your hands to form the mixture into a ball. If the mixture is too dry, add water 1/2 tablespoon at a time. If the mixture is too wet, add a bit more flour.
Wrap the crust in plastic wrap, and transfer to the fridge for at least 30 minutes to chill.
Prepare pie filling: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Thinly slice the eggplant and zucchini. Gently salt both sides of the eggplant and zucchini slices, and transfer to paper towels to allow the moisture to drain. Allow the eggplant and zucchini to drain for at least 10 minutes.
Thinly slice tomatoes, drain excess juice from the cutting board, and set aside.
Roll out the pie crust, and transfer to the baking pan. Begin layering vegetables in the pan, alternating the vegetables used (My layers were: tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, and tomatoes again).
Sprinkle the pie with minced garlic. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil over the top. Add pepper generously, and sprinkle with a bit of salt.
Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees, and bake for 20 additional minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a baking sheet. Drain extra water if desired (see note above).
Serve warm or at room temperature.