This pie recipe I’m about to share with today was made upon my mother’s request for a savory pie. My mom is an undeniable sweet tooth and most of the things she asks me to cook are cookies and desserts, but this time around she was up – to my relief – to something different. I’ve been facing days in which my motivation/inspiration to cook has been reduced to a minimum (I think we all have experienced the feeling that, for some unknown reason, we cannot simply come up with new interesting ideas – not only in the culinary realm, but also in any other area) so I really took and followed her guidelines: she wanted a pie with roasted onions or shallots on it, and that was what I made. Actually, I’ve realized this is a good method to pike up your creativity: ask somebody what he/she wants you to cook for them, and you’ll probably come up not only with what they wanted, but also with your own interpretation of what they asked you make – and that’s what makes the new born recipe special and therefore unique in its own way. Another way to re-start feeling inspired to cook – at least for me – is to watch other people cooking: I went to a barbecue party this weekend, and by watching one of my friends making a delicious and dead easy flatbread recipe from scratch, I immediately knew I had to try it at home with my own tweaks and variations (I’ll post up the recipe here soon).
This particular recipe relies on the well-known technique used in non-dairy and eggless pies, which is to make a “tofu custard” (and season it with a few dried herbs and condiments), that will then set when cooked in the oven, similarly to any other savory custard made of eggs and cream.
These days, I’ve been also addicted to experiment with different types of flour, and this time around, while searching the cupboards for buckwheat and oat flours (which I was planning to use in here), I found chestnut flour and that was what I used to make the crust. Chestnut flour has a sweet and somehow dense flavor, and because it’s gluten-free, I think it’s easier to work with when it’s combined with wheat (either whole wheat or just regular) flours – if you don’t have chestnut flour at hand, feel free to make this pie crust using only the white whole-wheat type instead.
I owe my mother the inspiration for this pie recipe so, as a sort of tribute, the leading picture of this post shows myself – as a little child – and her back in the early 90’s. : )
Roasted Shallots and Cherry Tomatoes Pie
(makes one, 20-22 cm tart)
For the pie crust:
140 grams (1 cup) chestnut flour
130 grams (1 cup) white whole-wheat flour
80 ml (1/3 cup) olive oil
60 ml (1/4 cup) plus 2 to 3 tablespoons cold water
½ teaspoon salt
For the roasted vegetables:
250 grams (1 ½ cups) cherry tomatoes, cut in half crosswise
1 teaspoon muscovado sugar
250 grams (2 cups) small shallots, peeled and cut in half crosswise
4 large garlic cloves, left whole and unpeeled
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
a pinch of salt
For the tofu custard:
500 grams (1/2 pound) firm tofu, patted dry and crumbled
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons tamari
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon-thyme, minced
1. Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC. Lightly oil 2 baking dishes with olive oil. Mix the onions with 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar and a pinch of salt. In one of the dishes, place the onions, cut side up, and the garlic cloves, and drizzle a little olive oil over them. Separately, mix the tomatoes with 1 teaspoon muscavado sugar and a little olive oil. Distribute them evenly on the other baking dish. Place the 2 baking dishes in the oven – preferably in the middle rack – and roast for 25 minutes, or until the vegetables are golden brown. When they’re done, take them out from the oven and let them cool a bit at room temperature.
2. In the meantime, prepare the crust: Mix the chesnut and wheat flours in a bowl. Add the salt. Now, slowly pour the olive oil and mix everything with a rubber spatula. Finally, add the water. Using your hands, mix the ingredients together in order to form a ball, being careful not to overmix the dough. If the dough seems too dry and doesn’t hold together, add 1 to 2 tablespoons more water.
3. Place the dough in the lightly oiled tart pan and press it with your fingers, so that the bottom and the sides of the pan are uniformly covered with dough. Now, trim any excess dough. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate it while you proceed with the recipe.
4. For the tofu custard, place all the ingredients for the custard in a food processor, as well as half of the roasted cherry tomatoes (juices included) and the roasted garlic cloves (which you have to unpeel first), and process until totally smooth. Have a taste and adjust the seasonings – adding a bit more tamari and/or a bit more lemon juice – if needed.
5. Take tart pan out of the refrigerator, cover it with foil and place a few pie weights over it – I used dried beans. Blind bake the crust for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown.
6. Place the onions in the bottom of the pre-baked tart shell. Fill the latter with the tofu custard and distribute the remaining roasted cherry tomatoes evenly on top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, at 180ºC, or until the custard is set and golden brown. Serve with a leafy salad.