Tag Archives: savory

tomatoes

Tomato Pie: your savory savior for a quick fresh meal

Claire Vergobbi Clare Vergobbi is one of our apprentices this season, working at River Road Neighborhood Farm for the summer. She is an essential part of what we do there, each day, and in turn, we are teaching her many skills for her future. Simultaneously, she is studying at the University of Montana. Thanks to Missoula Federal Credit Union for making two of our apprenticeships possible. Here’s Clare on tomato pie:

There’s nothing quite like hand feeding a chicken, pulling up a handful of carrots you seeded, weeded, and hand-watered for two months, or watching the sun set over mountains while the farm is full of families picking up their vegetables for the week.

These are the simple lessons good soil, clean water, hard work, and fresh food can teach. I’ve spent the last two summers as an apprentice at River Road Neighborhood Farm, one of Garden City Harvest’s four farms, where I’ve been learning by doing. River Road grows food for over 80 households who are members of the farm, and helps stock the kitchen at the Poverello with food each week of the season.

That brings me to tomato season. At long last, it arrived—albeit about a month later than usual and much lighter than the motherlode that blessed gardens and farms around Missoula last year.

That brings me to tomato season.  At long last, it’s here—albeit a month later than usual and much lighter than the motherlode that blessed gardens and farms around Missoula last year.  I spent most of the winter and spring eating the tomato soup, sauce, salsa, and frozen fruits I preserved last fall, and most of the summer waiting for tomatoes to come back into season. Desperate for tomatoes, I  started making a list of everything I wanted to make out of them this year at the first hint of red on the vines at the beginning of August.

tomato

I work as an apprentice at River Road Neighborhood Farm. Working alongside Greg Price and

Unfortunately, it’s hard to outsmart the whims of nature and August and September have been colder and rainier than anyone would have liked—less than ideal weather for tomatoes.  Harvests of tomatoes, peppers, and other hot weather crops have been exercises in frustration at River Road for the past few months. However, harvests are finally topping out above 100 pounds and I have faith that we’ll all end up with enough tomatoes to have more than enough for preservation. The fleeting inconsistencies of this season reminded me that the best tomatoes are those enjoyed fresh off the vine, standing in the field with juice running down my fingers or starring as a primary flavor in a light dish.

sliced heirloomOne of the dishes on my tomato wish list this year is tomato pie, a recipe I came across in a few southern cooking websites last winter.  The version I made was also heavily inspired by an onion pie that my lovely coworker Samantha brought to work one day.  Tomato pie is an amazing way to showcase the deep flavors and beautiful colors of heirloom tomatoes—my favorites for this dish were Cherokee Purples and Golden Kings, but any large heirloom would be a good choice.  I opted for a slightly healthier version (minus the sour cream and mayonnaise) than the original recipes I came across; a combination of the onion pie recipe and a fantastic recipe for heirloom tomato pie I found on Dig This Chick, a local Missoula blog.

With a sunny week ahead of us, there’s still a chance to take advantage of the fresh tomatoes ripening in your gardens and on our farms.  Grab a bunch of romas for your soups and sauces and a few lumpy, beautiful heirlooms for this pie.

Heirloom Tomato Pie   tomato pie

Need:

  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 3-4 sliced heirloom tomatoes
  • 4 cups shredded cheese—I liked parmesan, white cheddar, and gouda
  • 1 cup milk or plain yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, diced or sliced
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives
  • ¼ cup diced fresh basil (or 1 tablespoon dried basil)
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

For the crust, take a cup or so of breadcrumbs and mix with 3 tablespoons of melted butter, then press mixture firmly around the pie pan.

Caramelize onions and garlic.

Mix milk/yogurt, egg, cheese, garlic, onions, and herbs.  Pour mixture into pie crust.   Layer tomato slices to fill up remainder of pie pan, sprinkling with salt and pepper to taste as you go.

Bake for about an hour, or until the cheesy stuff is nice and bubbly and the tomatoes are juicy and squishy, but not dehydrated or burned.

When it comes out of the oven, it will still be pretty watery.  Let it sit for an hour at room temperature so it can set up, but it’ll probably taste just as good if you can’t wait that long.

Throw some extra fresh basil on top before eating to make it extra tasty.

Enjoy the remainder of glorious tomato season.  Who knows? If the frost holds off maybe we’ll have a fire sale after all.

 

ingredients

Savory Bread Pudding for Dinner

Savory bread pudding is a special occasion dish I use for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The prep is time-consuming and the cooking time a tad long, 90 minutes, but the results are worth the effort. This is a dish my children ask for again and again. It’s also a great centerpiece to a brunch buffet for friends and family.

I typically use fresh garden vegetables, but, in the winter, frozen vegetables work fine too. Be sure to thaw and drain frozen veggies before using. Be creative and combine meats and vegetables you like. The recipe is forgiving as long as you don’t add too much liquid to the ingredients.

Savory Bread Pudding

Ingredients and instructions:

1 loaf crusty French bread (baguette), cubed

12 eggs

2 cups milk (Skim, 2%, Whole, or even Soy Milk will work)

Beat the eggs and milk together. Set aside.

The three ingredients above are essential. The list below can vary and I’ve offered suggestions.

1 lb Italian sausage, cooked and crumbled into small bits (or ham, chopped small or other sausage)

1 medium onion, chopped and cooked (cook with the meat)

4 cloves garlic, chopped fine and cooked with the meat and onion

1 bunch of Swiss Chard (or kale, or collard greens, or 3-4 cups of spinach) roughly chopped. If using kale or collard greens, remove the stems. With the Swiss chard, you can include the stems. Thinly slice the Swiss chard stem that extends below the leaf.

1 bunch asparagus, chopped (or 2 cups chopped fresh green beans)

1 zucchini (small to medium, the size usually in stores) seeded and chopped

Optional:  1-2 cups sliced Japanese eggplants, salted, rinsed, and drained

2 cups grated cheese (Swiss, cheddar, parmesan, or whatever you have on-hand)

Place Swiss chard, asparagus, and zucchini (and eggplant if using) in a large bowl and microwave for 2-3 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften but are not cooked all the way through.chard

1 cup fresh mixed herbs: sage, basil, dill, marjoram, oregano (or whatever you can find). Mince herbs together. Dill and sage will be strong flavors so only use a little of each. If you can’t find fresh herbs, just add 1 tablespoon of Italian herb mix or even a tablespoon of Mrs. Dash no-salt spice mix.ingredients

Add the minced herbs and 1 cup of the grated cheese to the microwaved vegetables and stir.ingredients-2

Mix vegetables, cheese and herbs with the meat and onions and the cubed bread and put in a large, buttered, baking dish (a lasagna pan is perfect). Pour the egg and milk mixture over the bread mixture. The ingredients should be just covered by the eggs and milk. You may need to add more or even not use all the eggs and milk you mixed up.

Bake at 350 degrees for an hour and thirty minutes. Set your timer for 60 minutes. When the timer goes off, add the remaining 1 cup of cheese to the top of the pudding. Cook for another thirty minutes. The pudding is done when a knife stuck in the center comes out “clean” (meaning no wet egg/milk on the knife when you remove it). Depending on the size of your pan, the pudding may take longer to cook. If you don’t have a lasagna or a 9×12 cake pan, you can split the pudding into several smaller pans. If you bake in smaller pans or ramekins, your cooking time will decrease. The cooked pudding freezes and reheats well.finished-dishThis is a bountiful recipe that easily feeds 6 to 8 people.plated