Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Walking Through the Garden Pie

As I've mentioned before, summer is not my favorite season. This summer of 2007 has been such a lovely summer that I might have to change my tune. With the exception of the occasional heat spell, we have had beautiful days and cool nights, fog to clean and cool the air, and some of the best stone fruits and berries that I can remember. To top it off, my garden is one of the best in 20 years. The squash plants have been giving a steady harvest of tender green and yellow zucchini and rounded beige butternut squash, with one hardy crookneck producing a squash a week. I never grew cucumbers before, but will next year. It has been a joy to pick a nice green regualr cucumber for a mixed green salad, or to combine that with some round, prickly yellowish lemon cucumbers for a relish style salad with balsamic vinegar, olive oil and some chunks of tomato.

Best of all, the heirloom tomatoes that I started from seed are finally ripening. Red, deeply lobed Costellutos came first. They were not very large in size, but had a sweet tomato flavor.

Next I served our first Black Krim tomato sliced with a drizzle of olive oil and a dash of garlic salt, then scattered some chopped opal basil over the plate. Black Krim originate in the Black Sea reagion of Europe and have a dark, almost brown red flesh, shot through with bright red and spring leaf green. They have a very deep, delightful tomato flavor and are firm, but juicy. The little yellow pear tomatoes ripened just as the first Green Zebra tomato began to grow golden under the green stripes. I served chunks of marinated mozarella cheese on top of chunks of Black Krim and Green Zebra for a delicious taste of summer.

But what about the pie? It was a spur of the moment idea to make for dinner last weekend. Don't be too envious of my garden. This is the first time in almost 15 years that I've had more than about 6 food plants total in the garden. Finally this winter and spring I had the time to sow seeds for tomatoes, squash, and chard and, late, for cucumber. What really takes time is finding enough places to plant those seedlings that are not vulnerable to gophers and then finding the time to water every day. So these summer jewels are rare for me and very appreciated.

Imagine walking through the garden and picking some fresh chard, some of that dark opal basil, a few zucchini, a few tomatoes, and then heading for the kitchen to make a pie that tastes just like high summer. I blind baked a pie shell (using a round of parchment paper and my much-used and saved for pie baking kidney beans to keep the pastry from rising or forming big bubbles in the crust. Then I put chopped onions and mushrooms into a skillet with olive oil to saute'. While that was cooking, I made half moons of zucchini and cut tomatoes into chunks. I chopped basil and sliced well-washed chard into ribbons about 1 inch wide, after removing the stems. Once the onions and mushrooms were tender, I added the squash and tomatoes, let them cook until the squash were tender, then placed the chard on top, added a couple tablespoons water, and covered the pan to steam the chard.

While the chard steamed, I mixed 1/2 cup milk, egg substitute workth three eggs, 1/4 cup pesto, and a few grinds of pepper in a bowl. When the chard was tender, I mixed the vegetable mixture into the egg mixture and poured it all into the pie shell. After baking at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes until the pie filling was set and browned lightly, I let it cool just enough that it could be cut, then served it at our little eating place on the porch to Sweetie with those sliced tomatoes and some lemonade. Wish you could have joined us.


  1. Wow! Just ... wow.

    When the season's over, don't throw out the green tomatoes - harvest them & use them as the base for fruitmince! We ended up with nearly 100 quarts from our end-of-season tomatoes. :)

  2. I am a summer girl through and through!! One of the many reasons is simply because in terms of food I get all my favorites like you have pictured here so well. The garden pie is just my kind of dish! Looks lovely!

  3. I am jealous of your bounteous garden!! All I have are a few tomato plants and green bell peppers, but I haven't gotten a lot of veggies from them yet. I already have plans for a bigger garden next year, though!

  4. Elle, your garden must be really beautiful, so many wonderful things coming from it!

    I love the savory pie and the tomatoes look so good too!

  5. I would love to sit down to this fresh, flavourful meal.

  6. Oh, if only I could eat tomatoes...they always look so good, sigh.

  7. Davimack, what a great idea for green tomatoes at the end of the season!

    Meeta, it's true, the foods of summer are just wonderful.

    Deborah, Don't be jealous. Most years my garden is not bigger than yours. But we can both plan for bounteous next year.:)

    Patricia, It is beautiful in a way, but starting to get that I'm working again the garden time had diminished. Glad the veggies produce weeds or no.

    Cynthia, I would love to sit down to it with you. Maybe one day...

    Peabody, I wish you could eat tomatoes, too, but then you might have to like summer, heheheh.

  8. Hi Elle,
    I was looking Patricia's banana pie and than I saw your name and came here. I am in the gorgeous garden now. :)
    This pie looks so delicious. :)

  9. Its always summer over here in Malaysia Elle! The pie looks lovely and I'm sure it was delish as well!!

    You've been tagged by me at my blog... pls visit to see the rules...!

  10. Your garden pie sounds out of this world. It makes great use of the abundance of vegetablss in your garden. I think my favourite months of the year are May, June, September and, not really a season. I love the warm days of autumn with the crisp night air.

  11. Aysayaman, I love to follow links to new blogs through other blogs,too. Gald you found me. I think Patricia's bannana pie is excellent with the carmalization. Thanks for your kind words.

    Dharm, Not sure that I would like it always being summer, but glad you like the pie and tagged me.

    Valli, This has been a spectacular summer, but I really do love autunm better. The crisp air and fall colors are great and a lot of the harvest comes in the fall, too.

  12. Anonymous5:56 PM

    Everything looks delicious. but those tomatoes. Oh my gosh!

  13. I can't tell you how much I want to grow my own tomatoes, and pictures like these make me all the more keen. I think I need a little greenhouse :)

  14. Anonymous8:16 AM

    Wow, really wished I was there.That is such a lovely pie!

  15. Kristen, the 'maters!

    Kelly-Jane, Try growing from seed next season. You can buy these rectangular planters that are mini-greenhouses. You fill the cells with potting soil, put a couple of seeds in each, a little soil on top of the seeds, a little water, then cover with the clear cover & it heats up in a sunny window area just like a little greenhouse. Great way to start those expensive heirloom tomatoes as I did this year. Be ahppy to answer any questions as you go along.

    Veron, Wish I were sharing a piece with you. Next time you come to SF, maybe I will be free to visit with you and bring a piece of pie :). The new job made it impossible this time.