Not dessert, of course; instead, a vegetable pie for dinner or lunch. We know that we just had a recipe for eggplant, but, as it happens, we got another from our farmer through the CSA. That means we need to eat another eggplant before it goes to waste. We immediately thought of making ratatouille — one of our favorite ways to eat eggplant — but, then, we thought of you fellow scratcher and decided to come up with a totally new recipe. Try it and let us know what you think.
This is a mashup of two recipes. We borrowed the recipe for the crust from that delicious Leek and Cheese Pie recipe, and the filling for the pie is based, roughly, on the recipe for Beggars’ Purses (which we also thought of making, but decided this would be easier).
Please note: the crust recipe is enough for two 9-inch pies; either have another use for one of them, or you can freeze the extra crust for about a month.
Always use unsalted butter for baking; after all, we’re adding salt anyway, so we don’t want an unknown amount of salt for which we need to adjust. For the olive oil, it’s not there for flavor, so you can use any kind of neutral oil. Use either cumin seeds or powder; it makes little difference. For the wine, use something you like. If you don’t want to use wine, water will work, too; it just won’t add flavor. Finally, goat cheese can vary tremendously in flavor, so use something that you like, or choose another cheese. We think this would be great with Brie, or a sharp Cheddar.
Procedure in detail:
Make crusts. We won’t go into much detail here, as you can see just how to make them in the Leek and Cheese Pie post. But, briefly stated, whisk together the flour and salt, quickly work in the butter until it looks like coarse cornmeal, add the egg yolk (keep the egg white), followed by cold water a tablespoon at a time, and mix quickly with your fingers until a dough forms. Divide into two pieces and shape into disks. Wrap and refrigerate at least 3 hours.
Salt and drain eggplant. Peel and cut the eggplant into 1/2-inch cubes, placing them in a colander as you work. Place the colander in the sink and sprinkle with about a teaspoon of salt and toss the eggplant. Repeat the sprinkling and tossing two more times so the eggplant is coated with about a tablespoon of kosher salt. Let it sit and drain for about 20-30 minutes. Then, give the eggplant a good rinsing and let it drain. The salt draws out some moisture and helps counteract that slightly bitter taste some eggplants have.
Cook onions. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the onions, red pepper flake, and cumin. Fry, stirring often, until the onion is slightly translucent and tender, about 5 minutes.
Add garlic. Stir in the garlic and fry, stirring often, for about a minute more. Don’t cook the garlic too long or it’ll start to burn, and burnt garlic isn’t tasty in the least.
Cook eggplant. Add the eggplant and reduce the heat to low. Continue to stir occasionally, and let the eggplant cook until it’s quite soft and begins to stick to the bottom of the pan. Don’t worry; the pieces that stick will be scraped up in the next step.
Add wine. Stir in the wine and use the added liquid as an opportunity to scrape up all those sticking eggplant pieces. Continue to cook, stirring and scraping, until the wine is almost completely evaporated.
Add tomatoes. Pour in the tomatoes and give everything a good stir. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated and you have a very thick sauce. You want it very thick so the crust in the pie doesn’t become soggy, and so the pie will slice nicely when it’s time to serve. Once very thick, remove from heat and set aside. You can do some of the following steps while the tomatoes cook down.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Place a rack in the middle of the oven.
Roll out crust. Place one of the disks of dough on a lightly floured work surface, and, using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to about a 10-inch circle. If the dough is very stiff from being in the refrigerator, let it warm a few minutes. If it starts to get sticky, try transferring it to a piece of parchment and refrigerating for a few minutes. Once you have a large circle of dough, use it to line a 9-inch pie pan, patching any holes and breaks in the crust as needed. Finish up by piercing the bottom of the crust with a fork. This docking will help to keep the crust from puffing as it bakes.
Freeze. Slide the crust into the freezer and let it freeze for 20 minutes. This freezing does two things: it’ll help keep the dough from shrinking and help to keep it from puffing up.
Blind bake crust. Take the crust from the freezer and brush it with the reserved egg white until it’s shiny. This will help seal off the crust — again, to keep it from getting soggy — while it bakes. Place a piece of parchment (or aluminum foil) over the crust and fill with pie weights (or beans, or rice). Bake for 20 minutes. Remove weights and parchment.
Fill. Scoop the filling into the crust and spread into an even layer. Top with crumbled goat cheese.
Bake. Bake the pie for 45 minutes to an hour, long enough so the goat cheese starts to brown nicely, the filling to get hot and a bit bubbly, and the crust around the edges to become a deep brown.
Stand. Let the pie stand on a cooling rack for about 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
This made for a great, light, dinner of just eggplant pie and some home-scratched bread. Although we do have to admit that we had seconds, and a bit of dessert, both of which negate the idea of a light dinner. But, what can you do? We really liked the way that cooking the eggplant and tomatoes before baking makes for a nice thick filling in the pie. One that doesn’t ooze out when you slice and serve the pie. We also really liked having the crust on the bottom. It was light and flaky — sure, it’s always a bit more trouble when you have to roll out a crust, but we think that it’s worth it. We think this is a four-star eggplant dish.