We've had a pretty bountiful garden this year. And we're still harvesting….
These are our kale plants:
We haven't been picking the leaves, either. Not sure why. I think we felt it was a plant for cooler weather. For soups and that sort of thing.
But still, the two plants are in desperate need of attention. Attention in the form of leaf picking and food preparation. Bill found a recipe for Kale Pie in The Gardeners' Community Cookbook, and it sounded good – kind of like a quiche – so a couple of days ago I made it.
And here's the play-by-play for you.
First, the Easy Tart Crust, which is on page 170.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons water.
Now, right away, I had reservations about the crust. Room temperature butter? Aren't pie and tart crusts supposed to be made with COLD COLD COLD fat and water? But hey, it was in the cookbook, so I figured whoever wrote it knew what they were talking about.
1. Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Cut in the butter and pulse several times until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Continue to pulse while adding the water 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough adheres to itself when pinched.
So, into the food processor went the flour and salt. I pulsed them together a bit and then I added pieces of the room temperature butter.
2. Gather the dough into a ball and set the ball on a sheet of plastic wrap. Cover with another sheet of plastic wrap and roll the dough into an 11- to 13-inch circle. Remove the top sheet and turn the dough into a 10- to 12-inch tart or pie pan, pushing gently into the corners and up the sides. Place in the refrigerator to chill before baking, up to overnight. If chilling overnight, remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking.
I scraped the whole thing out onto some plastic wrap.
I pressed the dough together into a ball and the flattened it into a disk.
I put more plastic wrap over the dough,
And then I rolled it out into a sort of circle that was about 12" in diameter most of the time.
It's not always easy to roll dough out between sheets of plastic wrap. A couple of times I had to lift up the edges of the top layer of plastic and pull it taut, then flip the whole thing over and do the same thing with the other plastic. The dough is wet and sticky, so it clings to the plastic. And when you are rolling it out, sometimes the plastic gets pulled or bunched or wrinkled up in the process. Be patient. It will all be fine.
Okay, once the dough was pretty much the size called for, I removed the top layer of plastic and inverted my pan onto the dough.
You'll notice I'm using a cake pan and not a pie or tart pan. Why? Have I gone mad??? No. I just don't have a pie or tart pan that's 10 or 12 inches. Mine are 9" at most. So I figured a cake pan would do.
I shifted the dough around a bit to center it better in the pan, removed the rest of the plastic, and patched a couple of spots that had torn during all the fell swooping.
While the crust chilled, I went outside and cut a bunch of kale and got some little white onions from the garden.
After about fifteen minutes, I set the oven at 425 F. After another fifteen to twenty minutes, I removed the pan from the freezer and pierced it with a fork. The dough was firmed up so well I could stand a fork up in it. Baking's fun!
I checked on the crust about halfway through the baking – at around 12 minutes, per the advice of the "prebaking the crust" sidebar next to the crust recipe – pricked some more holes to let more steam escape, and popped it back in the oven for another ten minutes or so.
The timer went off, and I removed the pan from the oven and turned the temperature down to 375 F. As you can see, the crust is browning slightly along the edges and golden everywhere else. I set the pan on a cooling rack and flipped to the Kale Pie page.
Kale Pie is found on page 174, and was submitted by Madge Kho of Somerville, MA. Here's her recipe:
Makes one 10-inch pie.
Not exactly a quiche, nor a souffle, nor a spanakopita, this dish brings together all those cooking classics in one good pie, here doubly good from its healthful, tasty kale leaves.
One 10-inch Easy Tart Crust, prebaked
4 cups coarsely chopped kale leaves, washed and drained (about 8 ounces)
1 tablespoon olive or other vegetable oil
2 small onions, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 large eggs
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional) (I didn't use any – the feta was salty enough)
1. Prepare the crust and set aside. (Done!)
2. Preheat the oven to 375 F. (Done!)
3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the kale, stir to submerge the leaves, and cook over high heat until wilted and somewhat tender but still bright green, about 3 minutes. Drain and set aside to drip dry.
4. Heat the oil in a medium saute pan. Add the onions and garlic and saute over medium heat, stirring frequently, until beginning to turn golden, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
5. Break the eggs into a large bowl and lightly beat. (I didn't follow directions. I poured the half-and-half in the bowl first and then added the eggs. But, if I hadn't done that, I wouldn't have ended up with this interesting picture:
Do you see it? Here, I'll turn the picture around a bit for you…
See the heart? No, really, it's there. Look –
See? I told you, baking is fun!) I whisked the eggs and half-and-half together and then added the rest of the ingredients.
Add the feta, half-and-half, kale, onion mixture, salt, if using. Stir to mix and pour into the prebaked crust.
Oh, and speaking of the prebaked crust, I put some foil around the edge of the crust, between it and the pan, just in case the egg/half-and-half mixture puffed up and spilled over – I didn't want it to stick to the pan. I didn't need to worry about that, as it turned out, but I figured better safe than sorry.
Bake until the center of the pie is firm and lightly golden across the top, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove and allow to cool 10 to 15 minutes.
Serve while still warm, or let cool longer and serve at room temperature.
Now, I knew Bill and I would probably like this, but I wasn't sure about the kids. I'd roasted a chicken and some potatoes as well, just to make sure there would be something on the table Alex and Julia would like. Well, Alex doesn't really like potatoes, but he likes chicken. And we have fruit.
Anyway, I served dinner. The chicken and potatoes (and gravy) smelled fabulous, and so did the Kale pie. We passed out a little of this, a little of that to everyone, and then we ate.
And I nearly fell off my chair, because Alex LOVED the Kale pie. So did Julia, but I was really more stunned about Alex because the pie has eggs in it AND the feta I'd made, and he doesn't like either.
He liked this. A lot. He asked what was in it. Hm. I didn't want to use the bad words – "eggs" "feta" – so we told him the rest of the truth – it was Kale pie. Kale, the big plants in the back garden with the really curly leaves. That was what was mostly in the pie. He liked the crust, too.
Oh – the crust. That was very nice – buttery, flaky, crispy. A nice contrast to the filling.
I was sort of expecting there to be more of the batter in evidence. I was imagining a more quiche-like dish, but I'm glad that it turned out the way it did. If it was too eggy looking, Alex wouldn't have even tried it, let along liked it.
But, because everyone liked the pie, and because we still have a LOT of kale left, I'm planning to pick up some foil pie plates and make a few of these kale pies to freeze. I'm also thinking of tinkering with the recipe a bit. A shake or two of red pepper flakes, maybe, or some diced ham or bacon in there? Yum. But not completely necessary, either. This pie is terrific as is. Give it a try and see for yourself!