Veggies on the counter

Roasted Shallots and Cherry Tomatoes Pie

Posted in baked goods, main courses by veggies on the counter on April 17, 2011

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

olive oil

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.

Zucchini and Potato Salad

Posted in salads, side dishes by veggies on the counter on July 17, 2010

More than two weeks ago, I ordered some new cookbooks. In the past couple of days, I’ve been getting anxious at around 11 a.m, the hour at which the over-sized shipments are delivered by hand on my neighborhood. It happens that mine haven’t arrived yet, so now I started considering the hypothesis that they might have got lost on their way from the UK to Portugal. It already happened a few times with other items I’ve purchased, and it’s kind of annoying. But, anyway, as I don’t have yet the new cookbooks, I’ve turned to the “old” ones I’ve got at home and have been exploring them intensely. And if there’s one cookbook that I’ve been really cooking a lot from, that is Bryant Terry’s Vegan Soul Kitchen . When I first got it, I was slightly disappointed by its layout. I thought the design of the book was not particularly appealing, which was a pitty, because it didn’t let Bryant’s recipes shine as they deserved. But despite its design, Vegan Soul Kitchen is by far one of my favorite cookbooks. It’s filled with unique, vibrant recipes, from cover to cover, and I love the fact that Bryant gives both film and music recommendation for each recipe on the book. It’s actually a pretty cool thing because of two particular reasons: firstly, I get to know a lot of music and film through a cookbook, which is something untypicial and original for a cookbook; and secondly, because it gives me some insights on Bryant’s creative process, which I admire because of its interdisciplinarity (by taking inspiration from art and music to create and develop his own recipes).

There was this Crispy Green Beans Salad on the book that I wanted to try. But here in Portugal we’re not in green beans season right now, so I decided to adapt the recipe to what I have bought on the market this morning. And thus a whole new recipe was born - the Zucchini and Potato Salad. In here, I grilled the zucchini until it got good grilling marks, and boiled the potatoes with their skins on until they were soft and tender; tossed everything in a large bowl with some roasted shallots and a garlicky mustard dressing, and served with sprigs of fresh lemon thyme and toasted walnuts. Instead of boiling the potatoes as I did, I think you could also cut them in small cubes and pan fry them until gold and crisp, and then proceed with the following steps.


(serves 4, as a side)

335 grams small potatoes (about 15 potatoes)

400 grams zucchini (2 small ones)

4 large shallots

olive oil


1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1/4 plus 1 tablespoon toasted walnuts

for the mustard vinaigrette:

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons dijon mustard

3 teaspoons agave nectar

2 large garlic cloves

1/3 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon thyme, plus a bit more for garnish

salt to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.

2. I used very small potatoes in here, not that much bigger than the size of a grape, so if yours aren’t that small, cut them in halves and do not remove the skins. Bring about 2 liters of water to a boil, add 1 tablespoon of salt and the potatoes. Let them cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Drain them and wash them under cold running water. Drain again and set aside.

3. Trim the ends of the zucchini and cut them into 1 centimeter thick rounds. With a pastry brush, brush each round with olive oil and add about 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt (to all the rounds, not to each one individually). Heat a grill on maxium heat, add the zucchini rounds, and cook them for about 3 minutes on each side, or until they get good grilling marks. Remove from heat, let them cool, and set aside.

4. In a medium-size bowl, toss 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the balsamic vinegar. Rub this mixture in the shallots (with their skins on). Place the shallots in a baking dish lined with parchment paper, and roast them in the preheated oven for about 1 hour or until their skins have almost blacken. Let them cool, transfer to a cutting board, and take off their skins. Now, cut them into 2 centimeter thick pieces.

5. In a blender, combine all the ingredients for the vinaigrette except the olive oil. While the blender is still running, slowly pour in the olive oil. Have a taste and adjust the seasonings - a bit more salt? a bit more agave? - if needed.

6. In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, zucchini and shallots. Add about half of the vinaigrette and toss well.

7. Transfer all the ingredients to a big platter, add the toasted walnuts and some fresh lemon thyme sprigs. Right before serving, drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette.

recipe inspired by Vegan Soul Kitchen, by Bryant Terry, published by Da Capo Press


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