It goes without saying that summer is the best time for tomatoes. Or do I have to say it? Perhaps someone should tell a certain restaurant that they don't have to serve grainy, watery tomatoes in July. Sure, they made up for it with fantastic happy hour prices and a view overlooking Fountain Square that no amount of lackluster tomatoes can overshadow. But someone tell the chef if they want some good tomatoes, call me and I will send them to my vendor at the local farmer's market.
It may have been raining all day today but summer was alive and well in my kitchen. As I sliced into the tomatoes I picked up on Saturday, their deep red juices seeped out onto the cutting board, bleeding their perfect acidity and just begging me to eat a slice quickly and put them out of their juicy misery. Oh summer, never leave me again. How will I live without your tomatoes?
Those tomatoes were going into a Tomato and Roasted Eggplant Pie. I picked up the recipe while I was in Virginia at a family reunion. You know you're the family foodie when your mother-in-law, as soon as you get there, says, "I have a book of recipes you might be interested in!"
Why yes, I'm always interested! (Thanks Ginny!)
I decided to go at this recipe full throttle. It called for a baked pie shell so I wanted to make my own. I can't remember where but I saw some bloggers using pastry recipes from Williams-Sonoma. I got out my food processor, measured out the ingredients, the stars aligned, and voilà--a fantastic pie crust. Tim said it was the best he'd ever had as far as flakiness and flavor. He is the resident food critic, so I believe him.
I sliced up the eggplant, tossed it with some olive oil, salt, & pepper and roasted it in the oven. I also sautéed the onions until they were soft to avoid any raw onion flavor. The tomatoes just got a thin slice and were added to the pie as is, and they were excellent.
The pecorino cheese and parmesan added a nice saltiness to the flavor and good contrast to the vegetables. Except for the dough slipping down a bit, I can't imagine that this could have turned out any better. In fact, this is the perfect summer vegetable pie. The eggplant and tomato could easily be swapped out for zucchini, summer squash, peppers, potatoes, leafy greens, or even beets. If you experiment with different combinations, please come back and tell me about it!
Tomato and Roasted Eggplant Pie
recipe adapted from Under the Texan Sun: Recipes from the Lone Star Wineries
1 baked pie crust*
1 medium eggplant
2 medium onions
6-8 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup grated Pecorino cheese
plain greek yogurt (optional for serving)
basil leaves (optional for serving)
*Ingredients for the pie crust
recipe from Williams-Sonoma
1 1/4 cups unbleached flour
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, very cold
3-4 tbsp water, very cold
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. In a food processor, add the flour, sugar, and salt. Pulse 2-3 times until well mixed. Cut the butter into 1/4 inch cubes and add the butter to the food processor. Pulse until the butter is broken down into small crumbles, but do not over mix. The butter should be smaller than peas. Add the water, one tablespoon at a time while running the food processor on a low speed. When you've added the proper amount of water, the dough will come together, signaling you to stop mixing.
Moving the dough onto a well flour surface, form it into a ball. Roll the dough out with a rolling pin until 1 inch larger than your pie dish. Transfer dough to pie dish. Trim off any excess dough hanging over the lip of the dish. Line the pie dough with foil or parchment paper and fill the center with dry rice, beans, or pie weights until the pie shell is 2/3 full. This will help to keep the dough from slipping down the sides.
Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and discard the weights and foil/parchment. Using a fork, make holes in the bottom of the crust and along the sides. Return the crust to the oven and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees F. Slice the eggplant very thin. Toss with olive oil, salt, & pepper and arrange in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet. Roast for 10-12 minutes or until the eggplant is lightly browned and soft, but not mushy. Meanwhile, slice the onions thinly and sauté the onions for 5-7 minutes in 2 tbsp olive oil on medium-low in a dutch oven or non-stick skillet. Do not brown the onions and adjust heat as needed. Slice the tomatoes thinly and set aside on a paper towel to drain. Mince the garlic and combine with 3 tbsp olive oil. Set aside.
When the onions and eggplant are finished cooking, lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Begin to assemble the pie. Layer the half of the eggplant, tomato, onion, cheeses, and garlic-olive oil mixture in the pie shell. Repeat with the second half of the ingredients.
Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese is melted and vegetables are well cooked.
Serve a slice with a dollop of yogurt and a few torn basil leaves.
*I'm entering this recipe into the July Culinary Smackdown. I hope I'm the winner-winner-chicken-dinner!