I included yellow squash in my veggie order last week, trying to catch the last of the summer produce. I figured that I'd find something to do with it once it arrived. Some quick research turned up a few appealing possibilities, but I finally settled on this recipe from August's Gourmet - a vegetable pie that features yellow squash. (I've also included the recipe with my notes at the end of this post.) I had all of the ingredients, with the exception of okra. Most of the online reviewers substituted green beans for the okra, but one lone cook opined, "your loss if you leave it out." So, I bought some.
I mostly think okra is slimy and nasty, but my husband loves it. He's not such a big fan of yellow squash, so I figured that if I was making him eat the squash, I'd eat okra. It would either be "something for everyone to like" or "something for everyone to dislike!"
You bet I cut that okra into really small pieces!
- I only had a pound of squash, so I made up the difference with green beans.
- I used gruyere for some of the cheese because nothing says "savory melted cheese" quite like gruyere.
- I sprinkled some extra cornmeal and also some flour to absorb juices as the pie cooked. It still bubbled over.
- The recipe advises 45 minutes of active preparation time, and 2 hours start to finish. Lies, all lies! I started cooking this around 5:00 pm and pulled it out of the oven at 8:15 pm. We ate it without waiting for it to cool the recommended 15 minutes.
- Cooking this pie meant lots and lots of chopping, and many different steps. Plus, I got every bowl, pot, pan, utensil, and countertop in the kitchen dirty (3 bowls, 2 colanders, 3 pans, food processor, knives, measuring cups, grater, etc., etc., etc.) While the pie baked I did have time to hack away at the mountain of dishes.
- The crust was not very pie-like but more like a thin, firm cornbread layer - it had a hollow sound when I tapped the top. I'm not sure if this is how it was supposed to turn out or if I over-processed it (possible) or over-handled it (I was pretty careful about that), or that I'd included some whole wheat pastry flour (maybe). It tasted good though.
- Although the recipe said to let it cool at least 15 minutes, we dug right in. It was 8:15 and we just weren't going to wait another minute for dinner. I'm not sure the waiting would matter. I served it accompanied by... a glass of wine. It was late, I didn't want to prepare one more thing, and I reasoned that the pie had everything anyway: carbs, protein, and nearly every vegetable known to man.
Luckily, all the effort was worth it. We loved this. There was a ton left over, so we ate it for the rest of the week! I did manage to add some salad for the leftover days.
All the flavors melded together and nothing dominated. The cup of basil seemed like so much when I stirred it in, but along with the cooked + raw scallions it gave a great taste. I'd definitely add the full amount of eggs next time. They were great in there and help make it a "one pot" meal. A spinach salad with some citrus would be great on the side.
What I really like is how unusual this recipe is. In a million years, with a million typewriters, I'd never be able to think up this combination of ingredients and steps. It was a total change from what I usually cook. And it was so delicious!
for next time:
- The green beans were a great addition/ substitution for part of the squash. They should be added to the saute pan a few minutes before the squash and okra, though, because they take longer to cook.
- Cooking this was a lengthy process, so I won't be making it frequently. But it's great to have in the repertory. It makes a pretty huge pie, which was almost a problem for the 2 of us. Three dinners of the same thing in a week can be problematical around here (and I didn't think it would freeze well fully-cooked). So, next time I'd make 1/2 or 2/3 recipe. Or invite company to join us!
- Doing the recipe in stages in advance would help spread out the work on this recipe. Chopping ingredients, cooking the veggies, shredding the cheese, boiling the eggs, making and chilling the dough, could all be done early.
- I'd be tempted to cut out the crust and bake this casserole-style with a buttermilk-cornbread- biscuit type topping, but my husband really enjoyed the crust just as it was.
Farmland Vegetable Pie
1 1/2 pounds yellow squash, cut into 1-inch pieces (1 lb)
1 bunch scallions, chopped, keeping greens separate
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (2T. olive oil + 1 tsp bacon drippings of course)
1/4 pound okra, trimmed and sliced (3 oz)
5 oz green beans, trimmed in 1” lengths
1 pound yellow tomatoes, seeded and chopped (red)
1/2 cup corn kernels (from 1 ear)
1 1/2 cups coarsely grated Havarti or Muenster cheese (4 1/2 ounces) (1 oz havarti + 1.5 oz muenster + 1 oz gruyere)
1 cup chopped basil
1 tablespoon cornmeal (not stone-ground) (I used a bit more and some flour too)
4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped (I used 2 but will use 4 next time)
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (1 c. all-purpose + ¾ c. whole wheat pastry flour)
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick cold unsalted butter, 1/2-inch cubes
3/4 cup whole milk plus additional for brushing (1/2 c. 2% + ¼ c. buttermilk – did not need all of the milk)
1. Place a heavy baking sheet on middle rack of oven, then preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Toss squash with 1 teaspoon salt, then drain in a colander 30 minutes. Pat squash dry.
3. Cook scallions (except greens) and garlic in oil with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, 4 to 6 minutes. Add squash and okra and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are crisp-tender, 7 to 9 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in tomatoes. (add beans a few minutes earlier, while garlic and scallions are still cooking)
4. Transfer to a large bowl, then toss with corn, cheese, basil, cornmeal, and scallion greens. Season with salt and pepper. (I added extra cornmeal and even sprinkled on some flour to keep the filling from getting watery. I transferred it to the bowl with a slotted spoon, leaving the juice behind)
Make crust and bake pie:
1. Pulse dry ingredients with butter in a food processor until mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-size butter lumps. Transfer to a bowl and stir in milk until mixture just forms a dough.
2. Gather dough into a ball (I then divided the dough in two, and formed 2 disks) and chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, 5 minutes (I put it in the freezer - I don't think 5 minutes in the fridge gets much chilling done).
3. Roll out 1 piece of dough on a well-floured surface with a floured rolling pin into a 13-inch round. Transfer to a 9-inch glass pie plate, leaving overhang.
4. Spread eggs evenly in crust and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add vegetable filling, mounding slightly in middle.
5. Roll out remaining dough in same manner and place over filling. Trim, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Press edges of crust together. Fold overhang under and crimp edge all around.
6. Brush crust with additional milk, then cut 3 steam vents.
7. Bake until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, 50 minutes to 1 hour. (45 minutes, including 20 min at convect setting.) Cool at least 15 minutes before slicing. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Honestly, could you do this in 45 minutes of prep time? No, me either.