While we are debating what exactly we will try and plant, I know two items that will definitely be there - a mass of kale and Swiss chard. It may have taken us years to sink our teeth into these two vegetables (like many other foods), but we have grown to love them quite a bit. When they were still abundant at the end of the fall season, we had intended to pick up a couple bundles of Swiss chard for a recipe, but we came upon a vendor who had several steamer-like trunks set up, each overflowing with piles and piles of dark jade-colored kale. The farmer behind the table was glowing with her bounty as this was her last trip and this, as she said, was her best haul of the year.
While she was bursting with ideas on how to use it, mainly different juices she's been making, I already had a plan in mind... this Double-Crusted Kale Pie.
Instead of a traditional pie crust, this recipe uses extra-virgin olive oil for the fat. And before you ask, no you will not get the shatteringly flaky layers as if you used lard or butter. However, for this pie, neither of us thought that was a bad thing. The extra sturdiness was very welcomed and the delicate fruity background of the oil added a pleasant zing. The oil also made this four-ingredient dough extremely easy to work with - no tearing, no sticking and it doesn't have to stay cold.
The filling is a mixture of softened onion, plenty of robust garlic cloves, crushed red pepper for a snappy bite, Parmesan cheese, flour to keep the moisture controlled, lemon zest and juice, along with the large pile of vivid kale we picked at the market. We didn't just make use of only the leaves either - the thicker stems are used too - they are simply diced and added to the pan for a couple minutes before the leaves joined the mix.
If you have a scale handy (which I highly recommend!), dividing the dough for the two crusts is a breeze. Not that you can't do it by eye, but you're using two-thirds of the dough for the bottom, while you need the other third for the top - it won't be an even slice down the middle. The larger half is fit snugly into a round cake pan, with the filling scooped in, then the other piece of dough is gingerly draped over the top. With the two edges of the doughs pressed together ala an apple pie, instead of folding the crust backwards, we tucked it in forward for a rounded thick edge.
With a few vents sliced through the top, a good brushing with an egg wash and a light sprinkling of salt (versus sugar!), the whole package goes into a hot oven to bake until the filling is pipping hot and the crust is deeply golden. Do allow several minutes for this to rest before you even think about slicing into it - this way you'll be able to pull out slices without juices running out from the filling.
Savory, veggie-friendly and pretty impressive to look at (especially unmolded and placed on a decorative platter or stand), if you have extra time one day on the weekend and would like to bang this out for dinner during a hectic weeknight, you can prepare and assemble this entirely up to the point before you place it into the oven. Instead of baking, place the full baking pan into the freezer, unwrapped, and let freeze until just firm, about 1 hour. Wrap it in plastic wrap, then foil, and store in the freezer for up to a couple months - bake from frozen and increase the baking time to one and a half hours.
Double-Crusted Kale Pie