Phyllo Pie

AriCooks, Savory pies and quiches, Tips and Tricks, vegetarian

As I predicted, one of my many part-time jobs during this transition into our new life is, dah dah dum…waitressing. Although I am also teaching dance and cooking, there isn’t quite enough of that yet to pay the bills, so off to a cafe I went. Luckily, it’s just like riding a bike — although I have to say that the 32 year-old-me gets a little more exhausted at the end of a 6 or 8 hour waitressing shift than the 22 year-old-me did, a true age-indicator. Sigh.

With less energy (and time) for cooking Shabbat dinner last Friday, I racked my hungry brain for something I could make ahead that would sustain us through the weekend and would not leave me feeling even more my age. I thought of spanikopita (too many steps), then a savory tart (we just had quiche), then a sort of fusion of the two. I think this phyllo pie is rather clever, as it is simple to prepare yet looks sophisticated and tastes delicious.

Ari’s Phyllo Vegetable Pie

If you ever want to impress your family, friends or dinner guests, phyllo is the way to go. For most people phyllo has an air of sophistication and mystique, assumed to be much more complicated to cook with than it actually is. The only special tool you need if you are going to work with phyllo is a pastry brush (even a clean paint brush is fine), which you need for brushing the phyllo layers with olive oil or melted butter. Also, it is important to keep phyllo covered with a clean, damp kitchen towel while you work, because it dries out and becomes brittle very quickly.

2 onions, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

1 large zucchini, magda or summer squash, cubed

10-12 crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, stems removed, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

pinch of cayenne

1/2 tsp cumin

salt and pepper

1/3 cup finely chopped parsley

olive oil

1 package of phyllo dough, thawed

Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a wide saute pan over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and saute until soft, 5 minutes. Add the carrot and saute a few minutes more (I covered the pan to help it cook more quickly). When the carrot has softened add the cubed squash and mushrooms. Cover the pan and cook for 7 minutes until the mushrooms have released their juices. Add the bell pepper and spices and saute uncovered for a few minutes more. Lastly add the parsley and mix into the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Get a 9 x 13 inch baking pan out and brush it with olive oil. Lay the phyllo next to your pan and cover it with a damp towel. Lay a piece of phyllo over each long side of the pan, letting it hang over the outside edges by several inches. Brush the phyllo with olive oil. Repeat this with the short edges and again with the long. You should have 4 or 5 layers of phyllo as your bottom “crust,” all brushed with oil. Spread the vegetable mixture into the pan and layer 3-4 pieces of phyllo over the mixture, brushing each with oil. Then fold the overhanging pieces over the whole thing, encasing the veggies. Brush the top with olive oil and bake the pie at 350°F/175°C until golden brown, ~40 minutes.

The New Englander within

AriCooks, dessert, Savory pies and quiches, Summer, Tips and Tricks, vegetarian

It’s always been like this. When you grow up in two places you develop a split (or “dual” if you’re feeling magnanimous) identity. When Jeff and I returned to the States in ’99, I was on a mission to embrace the American in me (the New Englander, especially) with a new and almost fanatical conviction. Done with feeling rootless, I embraced Boston and all it had to offer. My Israeli past became a footnote in conversation with new friends and acquaintances and over time I was able to avoid talking about it all together. Although I had many unresolved feelings and attachments towards the country where I had spent nearly a third of my pre-adult life, I tried to channel them all into my cooking, and spent little time thinking about or discussing Israel outside of the culinary sphere.

I did that for eleven years. Then one day, I looked at my little girl and realized that if I did not act, she might never have an Israeli identity (however fraught) of her own. Petrified by the thought, I began to reconsider my own position on the matter. Although both Jeff and I had benefited enormously from the experiences and connections we had made in Boston, if we stayed too much longer, leaving would be almost impossible professionally. Other repressed feelings began to well up and, feeling that we were at a crossroads, we decided to return despite the cries of shock from nearly everyone we knew. When you try to ignore a lost love for so long, and fool everyone else even half as well as you’ve fooled yourself, there will be some explaining to do.

All that being said, eleven years was the longest  time I ever spent outside Israel and I did succeed in becoming that American I wanted so badly to be. The New Englander within surprises me with her expectations and sometimes prudishness (shyness?). In a society where manners are at the bottom of most people’s priorities, my inner-Bostonian balks at behavior I would not have noticed at 19. I need an inch or two more personal space than most people and I don’t like touching anyone except my closest friends and family. I imagine these things will lessen over time, but other things, like my love of cranberry season, apple picking, and cider donuts, may not. That I love Maine summers and orange blossoms equally helps illustrate the crux of my problem. Destined to be a New Englander in Israel and an Israeli in New England, trying to figure out how to be at home in the world is my greatest challenge.

Friday Night Quiche and a Saturday Fruit Salad

Vegetable Quiche

SInce it’s July in Israel I suppose it goes without saying that stew was not on the menu last night. Coming up with filling (but not heavy) summer meals is my main culinary challenge right now. Cold noodle and grain salads have been our main courses for weeks and it was time for something else. I decided to capitalize on my challah’s baking time and do quiche simultaneously, a dish we enjoy cold as well as warm. 

For the dough:

2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

8 Tbs cold Butter

2 Tbs cold shortening (I use the vegan margarine for this – you can also just use 2 more Tbs of butter)

1 egg yolk

ice water

Have all ingredients very cold (you can even mix the dry ingredients and put them in the fridge for a little while to chill them).

Combine the dry ingredients in a food processor and add the butter and shortening (cut in Tbs-size chunks) and pulse a few times until butter and shortening are pea-size. Add yolk and a couple Tbs of cold water and pulse a few times until dough starts to come together it should not form a ball in your processor, but rather hold together in a clump, when squeezed. Add more cold water if necessary, just a little at a time, until you have a dough that you can squeeze into a ball. Turn it out onto a counter and gather together and press into a disk (handle as little as possible, so that your butter stays cold).

If you do this by hand, you must work very quickly, cutting the butter into the flour and salt with a pastry cutter or 2 knives. Add the egg and ice water and continue to “cut” it in — not mixing or heating the dough up with your hands.

Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

For the filling:

4-5 yellow onions, thinly sliced

2 large red bell peppers, roasted (see below)

I bunch of swiss chard, washed well, stems removed and chopped separately

1/3 cup goat/sheep feta

1/3-1/2 cup grated pecorino

1/4 cup finely chopped parsley

olive oil

salt and pepper

caramelize the onions like this.

While the onions are caramelizing, roast the peppers:

Place an oven rack about 6 inches from the heating element and preheat the broiler. Place the peppers on a sheet pan lined with foil and slide them under the broiler. Let the skins of the peppers char on one side, then use tongs to turn each pepper 90 degrees. Repeat until the peppers are evenly charred on all sides and have collapsed.

Place them in a bag or covered bowl and allow the skins to steam off for 15 minutes.

When the peppers are cool enough to handle, peel them and slice thinly.

Add some olive oil to a wide saute pan (you can use the one you cooked the onions in) and saute the chopped chard stems with salt and pepper until they are soft, then add the chard leaves and cover the pot until they have cooked down, 5-7 minutes.

Roll out your pie dough — you will need to allow it to soften for 10 minutes out of the fridge. Dust a counter top and the surface of the dough with flour and roll out into a 1/3 inch-thick round. Transfer it to an ungreased pie plate and crimp the edges.

Parbake the crust for 10 minutes at 350°F/180°C, then remove from the oven.

Thinly slice the feta and spread it over the bottom of the shell. Next add 1/2 the onions and the peppers.

Spread the cooked chard (with stems) onto the pepper-onions layer, then add remaining onions and roasted peppers.

Beat 5-6 eggs with 1/2 the grated pecorino plus salt and pepper to taste and a 1/4 cup of milk or soy milk.

Pour the egg mixture into the shell and sprinkle parsley and the remaining pecorino over the top.

Bake at 350°F/180°C, for 35-45 minutes, until it is no longer wobbly in the center.

Summer Fruit Salad

Since I am a dessert show-off, my inner pastry-artist feels a bit stifled when I am asked to bring fruit to a gathering. In an effort to express myself fully while still honoring the hostess’s wishes, I got out my pastry cutter and went to work on this simple 3-fruit salad. 

1/4 watermelon

2 cups rainier cherries

3-4 large plums

mint sprigs

Chop or ball watermelon with a melon baller.

Pit and halve cherries

Thinly slice plums and use a star pastry/cookie cutter to cut stars out of the slices (or use whatever small cutter-shape you have handy).

Use the stars and the slices with the star cut-out to decorate the top of the fruit salad, as well as fresh mint sprigs.

Before Cheesecake…

Dairy Free, Savory pies and quiches, Tips and Tricks, vegetarian, Yeast bread

I am trying to get quite a lot in here before Wednesday’s holiday, which is all about cheese. Well, it’s actually about Revelation, but we eat cheese while feeling that something is being revealed. For more on Shavuot you can check out Jeff’s blog here. For more on food, stick with me.

Before I get swept up in the cheesecake baking, I have this Roasted Red Pepper and Kalamata Tart to share with you all, which is actually dairy free and nearly vegan (with the exception of one egg in the yeasted dough). The addition of caramelized red onions gives it depth of flavor and a nice consistency. I suggest making it in stages; roasting your peppers a day ahead, and maybe chopping and caramelizing your onions a day or two ahead as well. The more you can simply assemble — rather than cook and prepapre — on baking day, the more you can enjoy sitting down to eat (i.e. not exhausted)!

Roasted Red Pepper and Kalamata Tart with Yeasted Crust, adapted from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

For the Dough:

2 Tbs active dry yeast

1/2 tsp sugar

1/2 cup warm water

3 Tbs olive oil

1 egg lightly beaten

3/8 tsp salt

1 cup all purpose flour

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

Dissolve the yeast and sugar in a medium bowl and let stand until bubbly ~ 10 minutes. Add the oil, egg, and salt, then stir in flour (not all at once, you may not need all of it). When the dough is too stiff to work with a spoon, turn it onto the counter and knead until smooth and elastic, about 4 minutes. Add more flour if necessary to keep it from sticking. Set dough in an oiled bowl, turn to coat, cover with a towel, and let rise until doubled in bulk — 45 minutes to an hour. Meanwhile prepare the filling.

Tart Filling:

2 red onions, halved and thinly sliced

3 Tbs olive oil, plus extra for the crust

1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes (I used 4)

3 large red bell peppers

3 large garlic cloves, minced

1/8 tsp saffron threads

1/4 tsp anise seeds

salt and pepper

2 Tbs chopped basil

8 kalamata olives halved and pitted

Roast the red peppers whole, under a broiler, rotating every couple of minute until they are evenly mottled. Place the peppers in a bowl and cover with a plate or cutting board to let the skins steam off ~ 15 minutes. Peel and seed the the peppers and finely chop up all but 2/3 or one pepper. Cut the reserved 2/3 pepper into thin strips.

Cook the onions in the oil over medium heat until they are soft, about 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, turn down the heat to low and continue cooking for 5-10 minutes more. Do not burn. While the are cooking, peel, seed, and finely chop the tomatoes (to peel tomatoes, cut an X shape in the bottom of each tomato, place in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Let them sit for a minute or two, then pour out the hot water and cover them in cool water. Drain and peel). Add the garlic, chopped tomatoes and diced peppers to the onions, crumble the saffron threads and anise seeds into the mixture, and season with 1/2 tsp salt and a little pepper. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, especially towards the end. The mixture should be quite thick. Taste for salt and stir in the basil leaves.

Preheat the oven to 400°F/210°C. Roll out the dough and drape it over a 10 inch tart pan. There will be plenty of overhang.

Trim it and crimp the dough around the rim. Add the filling. Take the reserved, narrow strips of pepper and use the to make a lattice design over the top (I didn’t have quite enough pepper to do this — any design you make will be lovely). Place the olives in the spaces formed by the peppers.

Bake for 35 minutes. Remove and brush the rim of the crust with olive oil. Unmold the tart onto a platter and serve.

סיר פלא The Wonder Pot

AriCooks, Quick Meals, Savory pies and quiches

I grew up hearing stories about my parents’ aliyah (immigration) to Israel, which took place years before I was born. Some were surely true, some slightly exaggerated, and some were just to entertain me, which they always did. Now that Jeff and I are new/returning immigrants to Israel, many of my parents tales of pioneer-hardship echo in my ears. And though it is clear that the Israel of 2011 is a million light years away from that of 1969, there are some universal elements to starting one’s life anew in a (semi) foreign land.

“We were in the trenches, in the rain, with rifles.” (dad)

“Oy the fumes from the Kibbutz factory… I was sick for months.” (mom)

“I was in the fields from morning until night.” (dad)

“We had no oven! I cooked on the space heater.” (mom)

“When we arrived they gave us two straw mattresses and a seer peleh.” (mom)

A what?

Yes folks, the seer peleh, or wonder pot in English, is may have been an Israeli invention (other reports indicate that the pot was brought to Israel from Eastern Eurpope by Jewish immigrants). A standard item in every Israeli kitchen pre-1980, the wonder pot was what people used to cook and bake with in this country when ovens were still a luxury. By the time my parents returned to Israel with my sister and me in 1988 ovens had become a much more standard appliance, and it was not until last week that I ever actually laid eyes on the seer peleh of legend, sitting on the top shelf of a kitchen supply store on Ibn Gvirol Street.
When I asked the shop owner if he had any in stock, he smiled one of those slightly nostalgic, sweet smiles that told me that his mother had made many a pashtida פשטידה (casserole) in her seer peleh when he was growing up, and he gladly pulled a ladder out of the back room to retrieve one for me.

Once I had the thing in my hands, I could not believe that such a flimsy piece of cook-ware could have sustained even a small nation’s cooking needs for so many years. “What the heck?” I thought, “Is this aluminum?”

The seer peleh is the approximate size and shape of a bundt or angel food-cake pan, and might weigh 8 ounces. Unlike a bundt, it comes with a fitted lid that has several vents or holes, all around its circumference, as well as flat metal ring that is meant to be used as a heat-distributer if you are using the pot on a gas flame.

I decided that since I had no heat or cooking-time guidelines (if anyone knows where to get a copy of the now, out of print The Wonder of the Wonder Pot, by Sybil Zimmerman, please let me know!)I would start off with something simple. I made a regular tortilla espanola (Spanish omelette), smilar to a fritatta or a pashtida — a casserole that was often made in the wonder pot — with excellent results.

Wonder Pot Toritilla Espanola

Since I know that it is highly unlikely that any one will require a seer peleh recipe for spanish omelette, I am providing a standard method here, with notes on how I adjusted the process for my little pot.

2 yellow oinons, chopped

3-4  small boiling potatoes, chopped small  (the pieces need to be small enough to cook in saute pan)

salt, pepper

6-7 eggs

1/2 cup milk (optional, I use a little soy milk, just to stretch the recipe, but it certainly isn’t an authentic part of a Spanish omelette)

grated cheese of your choice — I used a hard sheep cheese

olive oil

Heat a tablespoon or two of oil in  a wide (oven-proof) saute pan over medium heat — when I was doing this in the states I used my cast iron pan. Add the onions and potatoes and saute over medium heat. Saute, stirring occasionally and seasoning with salt and pepper. When the onions are soft and starting to get some color and the potatoes are tender, turn off the heat and set this mixture aside in a bowl . In a mixing bowl, whisk eggs together vigorously, add the milk/soy milk if using and some grated cheese (the quantity is up to you). At the point, if you are using your saute pan, you want to have the oven on broil and the stove burner on medium high.

For the tradition preparation:

Grease your pan well (bottom and sides). Pour the egg mixture into the saute/cast iron pan and let it cook so there is a bottom layer that is slightly firm. Add the onions and potatoes (they will sink into the egg) and cook until the side are starting to pull away and are looking nearly done. Then place the whole thing beneath the broiler and cook until the top is lightly browned and bubbling – DO NOT WALK AWAY, it burns quickly!!

Remove from oven and turn upside down onto a plate or
serve from the pan, in wedges.

For the Wonder Pot:

Mix the potato/onion mixture into the eggs and pour everything into the well-greased (make sure you really grease it!) seer peleh. Cover the pot and set it on the burner on medium heat, check after 10 or 15 minutes, it will puff up and look firm. Wait a few minutes for it to cook before turning it out.

Roasted Pepper and Goat Cheese Tart

Savory pies and quiches, vegetarian

As I may have mentioned once before, I often enjoy the process more than the product. It’s not that I don’t like eating the results of my cooking and baking efforts, I do. I love that almost all the food I eat when we are home, is made by me. But sometimes, I pick recipes because they are fun to do and the eating part is just kind of secondary (and necessary for survival). This can be especially the case with dinner. If I spend over an hour making food for us at the end of the day, you can pretty much guarantee that  by the time we sit down to eat, I too tired to really appreciate the meal like I should.

This recipe was a huge exception.

When I got home the other evening and began to prepare this tart I thought I was ahead of the game because I had made the crust earlier in the day. Unfortunately I had not read my recipe thoroughly and there was still some serious work to be done (roasting, peeling and marinating the peppers — something that could have easily been done ahead). I briefly considered changing the recipe, but forged on nonetheless, and when we sad down to eat at 9pm, I was not sorry.

Do this recipe in stages, and you will be even happier than I was with the delicious result.

Roasted Pepper & Goat Cheese Tart, from Nick Malgieri’s The Modern Baker

You can and should make the olive oil crust and the marinated roasted red peppers ahead of time. This will make assembling the tart a breeze and will also give the peppers time to absorb the flavors of the marinade.

Step 1: Olive Oil Crust

makes a single crust for a 10-11 inch tart or pie

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 cup olive oil

1 large egg

1 large yolk

2 Tbs water

Combine the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse several times.

Add the oil, whole egg and yolk, and the water. Pulse repeatedly until the dough forms a shaggy ball. Don’t overmix or the oil could separate from the dough and make it impossible to work with.

Invert the food processor bowl over a floured work surface to turn out the dough. Carefully remove the blade and transfer any remaining dough to the work surface. Press the dough into a rough 1/2 inch thick disk. Roll the dough out using a rolling pin, rotating it as you roll so that you end up with a shape resembling a circle. When it is about 1/8 – 1/4 inch thick transfer the dough to a tart pan and gently press it in to fit. Trim excess. Carefully place the pan on a flat sheet pan and cover with plastic wrap so it will not dry out (I like to only handle the tart pan on a sheet pan once the dough is inside, so that I do not accidentally knock the bottom of the pan out and ruin my work). Keep crust in the fridge until you are ready to fill and bake it. This tart does not need to be pre-baked.

Step 2: Roasting and Marinating the Peppers

4 medium (or two large) sweet bell peppers


2 Tbs olive oil

1 garlic clove, peeled and thinly sliced

Place an oven rack about 6 inches from the heating element and preheat the broiler. Place the peppers on a sheet pan lined with foil and slide them under the broiler. Let the skins of the peppers char on one side, then use tongs to turn each pepper 90 degrees. Repeat until the peppers are evenly charred on all sides and have collapsed.

Transfer the peppers to a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap (or a plate). Th peppers will steam as they cool and the skins will loosen. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, place them in a colander (do not rinse! They will loose their flavor) and stem, seed and peel them. The peppers should separate into smaller pieces as you peel them. Place the cleaned peppers back into the bowl (cut them into strips if this does not happen while peeling and cleaning).

Place a layer of peppers in a shallow bowl and sprinkle with a pinch or two of salt. Drizzle on the olive oil and scatter a few of the garlic slices over the pepper. Repeat until you have layered all the peppers with the seasonings. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for up to 3 days (the crust should not be refrigerated for more than this).

Step 3: Baking the Tart

prepared crust

marinated roasted peppers

10 oz. mild goat cheese such as Montrachet, crumbled

6 large eggs

salt and pepper

1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

Set a rack in the lowest level of the oven and preheat to 375˚ F

Sprinkle the prepared tart crust with half of the goat cheese. Cover the cheese with a layer of the marinated peppers (do not include the garlic), overlapping the peppers slightly. Repeat with the remaining cheese and peppers, ending with peppers on top.

Layering the peppers and goat cheese

Whisk the eggs with salt, pepper and chopped parsley and pour into the crust.

Bake the tart until the filling is set and well colored and the crust is baked through ~    30-35 minutes. Cool the tart on a rack before slicing.

But it’s a blast

Savory pies and quiches, Vegan, vegetarian

My daughter has never been a great sleeper. Some months are worse than others and Jeff and I stumble through our daily activities in a sort of semi-conscious state, putting ice cream away in the cupboard instead of the freezer and forgetting basic things like which faucet is the cold and which is the hot. People used to nod sympathetically when she was a baby and assure us some children just took longer than others to sleep through the night. Now that she is two and a half and is more or less the only child her age I know who still needs to be en motion to take a nap (i.e. the stroller, the car etc) and we are just as likely to be woken up by pleas of thirst, hunger or loneliness, as not, I am more or less in agreement with her pediatrician who theorized that “sleep just isn’t really her strong suit”. Now before all the helpful folks out there begin making suggestions and recommending their favorite sleep book, I am going to assure you that we’ve tried many techniques and suffered through more wailing and calls for “mama and baba” than I would wish upon anyone. And besides, some of my best recipe ideas come to me at 4 am, when Auralee has finally fallen back to sleep with her elbow firmly lodged in neck while I lie awake, praying for the sleep gods to find me again.

This adaptation of a recipe from is something I came up with for the food website I have been writing for. Since they have me submit things way, way in advance you won’t see it there for many months. The original recipe calls for cooking some spinach separately, then squeezing out most of its liquid before adding it to the filling. Since I used the pulp from juicing some leafy greens- the juicer did that work for me. If you do not have a juicer or don’t plan on making any juice with chard and dandelion anytime soon (c’mon, it was so tasty!) then you could cook those greens some boiling, salted water for 2-3 minutes (2 bunches of chard, I bunch dandelion greens, larger, tough stems removed), drain, squeeze out as much of the liquid as possible, and chop them, and you’ll have something similar to the pulp I used here.

Caramelized Onion Quiche with Greens and a Spelt-Oat Crust, adapted from

For the crust:

1/2 cup whole rolled oats

3 Tbs sesame seeds

1 cup spelt flour (all-purpose or whole wheat pastry are also fine)

1 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/3 cup unflavored soy milk

1/3 cup olive or sesame oil

For the filling:

2 Tbs olive oil

1 cup thinly sliced vidalia, or other sweet onion

2 Tbs dry white wine/vermouth divided

1 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

2 cloves garlic, minced

3-4 cups chard and dandelion pulp (see above)

1 lb firm tofu, drained and patted dry

2 Tbs rice vinegar

2 Tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice

paprika for dusting

Assemble crust:

Preheat the oven to 350 F

Spread the oats and raw sesame seeds on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 8 minutes.

Transfer the toasted oats and sesame seeds to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper, and process until the oats are finely ground.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy milk and oil. Using a wooden spoon, mix in the dry ingredients to form a dough.

Lightly brush a 9-inch or 10-inch tart pan with oil. Put the dough in the tart pan. Place a piece of plastic wrap on the dough and press down evenly, making sure to fill in the fluted sides of the pan. Trim the tart of any excess dough and refrigerate while you make the filling.

Make the filling:

In a wide saute pan over medium heat, warm 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the onion, 1/2 teaspoon salt and red pepper flakes and cook until the onion has begun to caramelize (adjust the heat if the onion is burning or browning too quickly). When onion is golden, deglaze the pan with one tablespoon of the wine, and add the minced garlic. Cook over medium low heat for a few minutes more.

Add 3-4 cups of chard and dandelion pulp (or cooked, drained, squeezed and chopped greens) to the onion mixture along with the second tablespoon of wine. Cover until greens have had a chance to wilt. Remove pan from heat. Note: if you are using cooked greens instead of pulp you do not need to wait for them to wilt or add the second tablespoon of wine– just add the chopped, squeezed greens to the pan and mix to combine with the onions.

Crumble the tofu into the bowl of a food processor, add the lemon juice, vinegar, and remaining teaspoon of salt and puree until smooth. With a rubber spatula, scrape the puree into the onion-pulp mixture and fold to combine.

Fill the tart shell with tofu and vegetable mixture and smooth the top with the back of a spoon (at first it may appear as though not all the filling with fit, but don’t be afraid to pile it in, it will set in place as it bakes). Dust with paprika.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, until firm.

Let the tart cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Serves 4-6

Red Chard and Broccoli Pie

AriCooks, Dairy Free, Savory pies and quiches, vegetarian

I love putting things in pie crust.

I hesitate to call this a “quiche” because the focus here was really on the vegetables with just few eggs thrown in to bind them together. But I suppose it is something of a quiche-frittata hybrid and either way the result was great.

Before I give the recipe I want to explain something about the way I food shop and why it works for me. I have tried a lot of different methods of grocery shopping including; buying what’s on sale, buying what I have coupons for, recipe planning, list making, and the way that has consistently won over and over again: buying what looks good and fresh, and is in many cases local and in season. I also like to pick up one or two new things for inspiration. Now, I realize that this may not work for everyone especially if you don’t have time to cook as much as you would like to. For many of us, that beautiful bunch of fresh, full kale that you bought with every intention of using promptly, ends up wilting in the back of your vegetable drawer… sad and forgotten. But if you have a small and steadily growing repertoire of recipes that you feel you can tweak and improvise on, you might consider trying to buy what looks freshest (after you’ve bought the basics) and seeing if you can incorporate it into your weekly fare.

This pie was born out of a very robust bunch of red chard that I was pleased to find this week at my local produce supplier as well as a leftover head of broccoli and some other odds and ends. If making crust is not your thing then you can certainly use a store bought crust (I like the Whole Foods, whole wheat crust in the frozen section). And don’t forget you will still have to pre-bake it for 10 or 15 minutes before filling it with the vegetable mixture.

Ari’s Red Chard and Broccoli Pie

Whole Wheat Crust (makes enough for a single crust):

1 1/2 cups flour (I use half all purpose and half whole wheat pastry, feel free to play with those proportions)

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/3 cup vegan margarine or shortening (I used the vegan buttery sticks from earth balance)

~ 1/4 cup ice cold water, added very slowly, you may need a little more or a little less.

2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Make the crust:

Before you begin, put all ingredients in the fridge- make sure everything is very coldbefore you begin. Do not use your hands to mix the dough, the heat from the will melt the shortening.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking powder. Add the shortening/margarine by the teaspoon, cutting in a about a third of the total amount at a time using a pastry cutter, two knives or a food processor- pulsing and checking to see that you have not cut your shortening chunks smaller than pea-size. Cut in all shortening until the dough is crumbly and pebbly.

Combine the vinegar with 1/2 cup of water, adding it to the  dough mixture in three batches, gently mixing it with a fork until the dough just comes together when pinched. Add additional cold water if you need to.

Gather the dough into a ball and gently squeeze it so it holds together. Sprinkle a clean work surface with flour form the dough into a flattened disk. Wrap the disk tightly in plastic and refrigerate while you make the filling ~ 1 hour.


2 small-medium onions, halved and thinly sliced

1 broccoli crown, cut into small florets

3-4 cloves garlic, peeled

1 large bunch of red chard (swiss/green is fine), stems chopped into 1/2 pieces and leaves thinly sliced into ribbons

3 large eggs

1/4 milk/ soy milk

1/3 cup grated, hard goat/sheep’s milk cheese (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil

Make filling:

Preheat the oven to 375 F

Put the florets and garic cloves in a square baking pan and toss with a couple tablespoons of olive oil and some salt and pepper. Cover baking dish with foil and roast until broccoli is tender, about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile pull the dough from fridge if it is ready and roll it out to fit a 9-10 inch pie plate (about 1/3 inch thick). You may need to four the counter to prevent it from sticking. When you have a large-enough rolled-out dough, roll it around your rolling pin, and unroll it over the pie plate. Gently fit the dough into the plate and trim the edges.

Poke a few holes into the bottom and line dough with foil or parchment paper. Fill pie dish with dry beans or pie weights and bake with broccoli for ~10 minutes.

Remove pie dough from oven and when cool enough to handle take out the foil and weights.

In a wide, heavy skillet, heat a couple tablespoons of oil over medium heat, add the onions and saute until they begin to caramelize. Add salt and pepper and the chopped chard stems and after sauteeing for a few minutes, cover with a tight-fitting lid and turn the heat down.

Cook chard stems with onions for 10 minutes or so, until the soften. Add the ribboned chard leaves and cover again, letting them cook down. When chard has sufficiently wilted uncover and stir in broccoli and garlic. Remove pan from heat and let vegetables cool slightly.

In a large bowl whisk eggs with the milk and add a little more salt and pepper. Grate in cheese, of using and when vegetable are cool enough (you don’t want to scramble your eggs) mix everything together in the bowl. Pour filling into partially baked crust and return to oven. If you notice the sides of your crust are already very brown you can keep them from burning by covering the edges of your pie plate with foil.

Bake until set ~ 40 minutes.

Cool and slice.