Corn, Tomato, and Zucchini Pie


This recipe wasn't supposed to make it to the blog. In fact this Pie came about because I had, with much anticipation, been planning to make Caramelized Corn with Tomatoes and Bacon (!!!) a summer-y, American side dish meant to showcase the season's tomato and corn, and the bacon, well that goes without saying. Bacon, as we all know, bestows its signature smokiness and saltiness and richness upon every ingredient it touches, and makes them all the better for it. In fact I'd estimate it makes everything aleast 10 times more delicious.

But when I was ready to make my Caramelized Corn with Tomatoes and Bacon (!!!) I couldn't find any bacon. This might seem obvious as I'm in Italy, where bacon isn't so common, but my local Carrefour supermarket actually carries good old American-style sliced bacon, they just seemed to be out of it (or perhaps hadn't bothered to order it lately?! I don't imagine Italians are as fond of it as I am). I rummaged among the mortadella, the guanciale, the prosciutto, but it wasn't them I wanted, it was bacon I was in search of, and it was nowhere to be found. I toyed with the idea of substituting pancetta, but I knew it wouldn't be the same thing, and plus it didn't feel right to put pancetta with corn or butter or in an American dish at all. I moped briefly in the cold-cuts section of the supermarket and then rallied. 

I had already found the other ingredients needed for my recipe -- the corn, tomatoes, and basil -- and I did have half an onion and a zucchini kicking around the fridge, waiting to be used, and fate would have it that I had some leftover sour cream, the usual large quantity of butter, and some newly purchased whole wheat flour at home, too. The result was this improvised, supremely Summer-y Corn, Tomato, and Zucchini Pie, or flaky, buttery, whole-wheat pastry wrapped around candy-like caramelized onions, juicy tomatoes, sweet corn, emerald green coins of zucchini, and lots of melted cheese, with a bit flowery basil thrown in for good measure. Its a cross between this Cherry Tomato Crostata and this Three-Cheese Zucchini Tart, one of those savory pies I love so much that wears many hats, excellent as a starter, a light lunch, or on your brunch menu, able to accommodate whatever veggies are in season or whatever you happen to have hanging out in your fridge. The leftovers were superb, too.

I'll be honest: I didn't even miss the bacon. 

I'll be back in a few days with some Italian recipes to balance out all the corn and waffles and sour cream we've been seeing on here lately -- in the meantime, have a good weekend everyone! 

A couple of notes: If you don't have any whole wheat flour, feel free to use (all) all-purpose flour. Use any cheese here you like -- I used mozzarella because its what I had on hand, but Gruyere would also be nice. Adjust the quantities of the vegetables in the filling as you see fit -- if you want more corn, add more corn! Less tomatoes? Add less tomatoes! Note that I made this while my sister was away on vacation and it was just me at home, so I made a smaller pie -- the quantities below serve about 4. If you want a bigger pie, feel free to double the quantities of the crust and filling. Finally, if you aren't up for making the crust from scratch, you could of course always use a store-bought pie crust, but I will say the homemade crust is pretty spectacular and comes together quickly. 

Looking for other savory pies? I've got this Butternut Squash Galette, this Three-Cheese Zucchini Tart, and this Cherry Tomato Crostata, plus this Torta Pasqualina. Looking for other dishes with zucchini, tomatoes, or corn? I've got this Corn, Avocado and Tomato Salad, these Stuffed Zucchini, this Tomato Cobbler, this Spaghetti with Cherry Tomatoes and Basil, and these Savory Tomato Shortcakes.

CORN, TOMATO, AND ZUCCHINI PIE

Ingredients for the pie crust:
3/4 cup (98 grams) tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (65 grams) whole wheat flour
8 tablespoons (112 grams) butter, ice cold and cut in to cubes
1/4 cup (about 55 grams) sour cream or full-fat yogurt
1/4 cup (59ml) ice cold water
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 egg for the egg wash

Ingredients for the filling:
1/2 large onion
2 tablespoons (28 grams) butter
1 medium zucchini, cut in to rounds and then the rounds cut in half
1/2 cup (100 grams) corn kernels
3/4 cup (about 110 grams) cherry tomatoes, larger ones halved
2 tablespoons of basil, chopped (or more or less to taste)
1 1/4 cups (about 140 grams) grated mozzarella cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt

Olive oil, as needed 
Pepper
Basil to garnish

Directions:
To make the crust: Whisk together the flours and salt in a large bowl. Sprinkle the cubes of butter over the dough and using a pastry blender (or your fingertips, if you don't have one) cut it in until the mixture resembles coarse meal, with the biggest pieces of butter the size of tiny peas. In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, lemon juice and water and add this to the butter and flour mixture. With a wooden spoon, mix in the liquid in until a dough begins to form; be careful to not overwork the dough. If it seems too wet, add more flour a tablespoon at a time. Turn the dough out on to a floured work surface and form into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

To make the filling: Start with the onions. Melt the butter in a heavy skillet and cook the onion over low heat pinch of sugar, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly golden brown, about 20 minutes. Place the onions in a bowl and set aside. Add the zucchini, corn, and tomatoes to the pan where the onions were along with a little olive oil so they don't stick. Saute the zucchini and tomatoes for about 4-5 minutes, or until they're all slightly softened and the zucchini is light brown (note that the veg will continue to cook in the oven). Add the zucchini, corn, and tomatoes to the bowl with onions. Add the basil and stir to combine. Set the filling aside to let it cool slightly. When cooled, add the cheese and 1/4 teaspoon of salt, plus pepper to taste. Taste the filling and adjust the seasonings accordingly. 

Time to assemble your pie! Once the hour is up, take your dough out of the refrigerator. On a floured work surface, roll the dough out into a 8-inch round. Transfer to an greased baking sheet (wrap the dough around the rolling pin to help you transfer it from counter to baking sheet) Alternatively, if your oven is small like mine and you can't fit a whole baking sheet, you can lay the dough out over a greased 9-inch spring form pan and use that.  

Spread the filling over the dough, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Fold the border over the filling, pleating the edge to make it fit (note that this doesn't have to be perfect -- see my photos). Brush the border of the dough with a beaten egg to make it shiny, and bake in the oven until golden brown, 30-40 minutes. Remove the pie from the oven, and let it cool for a bit. Garnish with extra chopped basil. Cut into wedges and serve hot, warm, or room temperature. Makes (1) pie, serving 4 generously.



Blackberry Sour Cream Waffles

A couple of months ago I was invited to dinner at the house of my friends Lavinia and Deni (you may remember them from this post here). Deni, who is Hungarian, made us a delicious Hungarian meal (a preview if you will for the trip we were to take to Budapest not long after, where we ate stupendously). He prepared a cauliflower and carrot soup, roast chicken and potatoes with a side of pickles, and a dessert made with chestnuts and whipped cream, plus offered us p├ílinka, Hungary's traditional fruit brandy, in all different flavors. But back to that first course -- when it came time to eat the cauliflower soup, Deni disappeared briefly in to the kitchen and reappeared, like magic, with a container in his hand. “Sour cream, to top the soup?”

I nearly gasped.

Sour cream is used quite a bit in American cuisine, as a topping for Tex Mex enchiladas, tacos, or chili, in dips, or, most importantly, in lots of American baking where it lends a certain tenderness, richness and tangy-ness, improving every baked good it touches. It can be used in cheesecakes, muffins, cakes, pie crusts, pie fillings, and even scones and biscuits. And sour cream, you see, was supposed to be one of those ingredients like buttermilk, cheddar cheese, okra, sweetened shredded coconut, Graham crackers, and (not mini) milk chocolate chips, or rather, things I had never seen in Italy and had always known to be unavailable here. Sighting sour cream in Rome was the culinary equivalent of spotting a comet that passes once every 100-something years, or an animal that was thought to have been extinct for ages, but had reappeared. What was it doing here?!

“Where’d you get that?!” I demanded.

“What, the sour cream? Pam, the supermarket,” they answered. “Not all of the Pams have them, but some do. So do you want some?”

Yes, yes I did, thank you very much.

A couple of months after that, in a small supermarket not even close to where I live, I, like magic, stumbled upon sour cream (panna acida in Italian) again in the dairy aisle, hidden among the heavy cream and butter. It was the same brand that Deni and Lavinia had found at Pam. I seized the occasion – who knows when it would arise again?! – and grabbed two containers, hurried home, and subsequently made these Blueberry Pie Bars and then Blackberry Sour Cream Waffles.

Even in the heat of the Roman summer I still find breakfast doable – the morning is the time before the heat has really sunk its teeth in, and before the thought of eating anything above room temperature is unbearable. Plus the waffle iron, unlike the oven or the stove, doesn't heat the kitchen up, and having procured my beloved sour cream and picked up some lovely looking blackberries, I decided to strike while the (waffle) iron was hot and whip up these waffles. These are tender and fluffy thanks to all the sour cream, cinnamon scented to boot, studded with tart sapphire-like blackberries and scrumptious when served with maple syrup and extra berries on top. I loved them and I think you will too. 

A couple of notes: You could substitute blueberries or raspberries for the blackberries here if you'd like. If you don't have whole wheat flour, you can use just all-purpose flour no problem. If you can't find sour cream where you are, I'm sorry! but you can substitute plain full-fat yogurt with good results. The amount of blackberries may seem relatively small, but as I learned, too many blackberries that get subsequently squished in the waffle iron and make the waffles tricky to remove from the waffle iron in one whole waffle piece. If you don't care about presentation, and want your waffles extra blackberry-y, then go ahead and add more. You can keep the waffles warm on a baking sheet in a 200 degree oven as you cook the others. Finally, feel free to add a little lemon zest here instead of the cinnamon, if you want Blackberry Lemon Waffles.

Looking for other waffle recipes? I have these Banana Pecan Waffles, these Savory Prosciutto and Cheese Waffles with a Fried Egg, and these ever so perfect Classic Waffles. Prefer pancakes to waffles? I've got these Cornmeal Blueberry Pancakes, these Pumpkin Pancakes, these Classic Pancakes, and these Savory Squash Pancakes. Prefer french toast to pancakes or waffles? I've got Pumpkin French Toast and these Individual Baked French Toasts. Want other blackberry recipes? I've also got this Blackberry Cheesecake Galette

BLACKBERRY SOUR CREAM WAFFLES

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons (42 grams) butter, melted and cooled 
3/4 cup (140 grams) blackberries
5 tablespoons (50 grams) sugar, divided
1 cup (130 grams) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (98 grams) whole wheat flour (see comment in Notes)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs
3/4 cup (180 grams) milk
1 cup (224 grams) sour cream

Directions:
Place the blackberries in a small bowl and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the sugar; mix together and set aside. 
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, sour cream, melted butter, and vanilla. In another separate medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar.
Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined. Add the blackberries and stir once or twice to incorporate them. Preheat the waffle iron according to the manufacturer's instructions (mine only takes a few minutes to heat up).

Once the waffle iron is hot brush with extra melted butter so your waffles don't stick. Using a ladle, distribute the batter evenly over the waffle iron surface, keeping in mind that the batter will spread a little when you close the waffle iron. Close the iron and let the waffles cook for about 4-5 minutes, or until golden brown. Use a fork to carefully remove the waffle from the oven and slide it on to a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter to make more waffles. Serve your Blackberry Sour Cream Waffles with maple syrup, extra blackberries, and if you want to do as I did, a glass of blood orange juice. Makes 4 large waffles.

Recipe adapted from www.food.com.