Eggplant Pie

Eggplant Pie
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eggplant pie
Just a slice, so we can save room for dessert!

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.

Eggplant Pie

Yield: 4-6 servings

Eggplant Pie

Ingredients

    For the crust
  • 2 cups (280 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 8 Tbs (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cut into 16 pieces
  • 1 large egg, separated
  • cold water
  • For the filling
  • 1 medium eggplant, peeled and cubed
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 2 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • Dash of red pepper flake
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 can (15 ounce) unsalted diced tomatoes
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 ounces goat cheese

Abbreviated Instructions

For the crust

Whisk together flour and salt. Scatter butter over the flour, and, using your fingers, quickly work into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Add egg yolk and 1 Tbs water and mix together to form a dough. Add additional cold water, if needed.

Divide dough in two and shape into disks. Wrap each in plastic and refrigerate at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.

Reserve egg white.

For the filling

In a colander, toss eggplant with about 1 tablespoon kosher salt. Let stand and drain for 20 minutes. Rinse with cold water and set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, cumin, and red pepper flake, and cook until translucent, 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook an additional minute.

Add eggplant, reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring often, until tender and starting to stick to the pan, about 25 minutes. Add wine and scrape up sticking bits of eggplant. Add tomatoes and cook until quite thick and most of the liquid is evaporated, 30 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.

To assemble

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Place one disk of dough on a lightly floured work surface. Roll out and fit into a 9-inch pie pan. Pierce bottom with a fork and freeze crust for 20 minutes.

Remove from freezer and brush with reserved egg white until glossy. You will not use all of the egg white. Cover with parchment and fill with pie weights. Bake 20 minutes.

Fill partially baked crust with eggplant mixture, and crumble goat cheese over the top. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until filling is heated all the way through and cheese and crust are nicely browned.

Let stand 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.

http://scratchinit.halversen.com/2015/09/eggplant-pie/

Ingredient discussion:

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.

frying onions
Nearly every dish starts with frying onions; that’s because they’re so tasty.

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.

cooking eggplant
It’ll take about 20 minutes for the eggplant to cook and soften. Just make sure to stir it often.

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.

cooking eggplant
Even though the eggplant stuck in spots, a bit of wine, a little scraping, and it’s no longer stuck to the pan.

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.

cooked eggplant and tomato
Try for a very thick filling of the tomatoes and eggplant. Otherwise, you’ll have a soggy pie.

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.

brushing crust
Brushing with some of the egg whites will seal off the crust, helping to keep it from getting soggy.
pie weights
We used to use rice for our pie weights, but, then, one year we got a box of pie weights as a Christmas present. They do work well.
The crust will not be completely baked, but it should be baked enough, so it'll finish up with the filling in place.
The crust will not be completely baked, but it should be baked enough to finish up with the filling in place.

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.

pie ready for baking
We chose goat cheese, mainly because we had some on hand, but also because it seems like a natural pairing with eggplant and tomato.

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.

baked pie
Goat cheese doesn’t really melt; it just sort of browns in places.

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.

Worth the trouble?

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