Zucchini & Ricotta Pie {ModBak}

The final recipe I made for the Savory Tarts and Pies section of the Modern Baker Challenge was zucchini and ricotta pie.

This was a fairly straightforward recipe. I began by shredding the zucchini in the food processor, then putting it in a strainer set over a bowl. The shredded zucchini was quite wet, and I expected to see quite a bit of water draining off, so I was surprised that, after half an hour, not a single drop had collected in the bowl. I looked at the recipe and quickly realized the problem.

After mixing the zucchini with salt (duh!) and returning it to the strainer, a lot of water began dripping from the zucchini within a few minutes. I let the zucchini drain for about an hour, then rinsed it and squeezed it dry.

Meanwhile, I sautéed onion in olive oil until it became soft and translucent. Then I added the zucchini and cooked it low and slow for about 20 minutes.

While the onions and zucchini were cooking, I rolled out the dough. The recipe called for olive oil dough, but I’ve become rather fond of the rich pie dough, so that’s what I used for this recipe.

After the zucchini had softened and cooked down quite a bit, I scraped it and the onions into a bowl and seasoned it well with salt and pepper. Next, I added ricotta, eggs, chopped parsley, and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, mixing well after each addition. I poured the filling into the crust and smoothed it out.

I put on the top crust, then trimmed the crusts even with the pan. I baked the pie for 30 minutes at 375°F, until the crust was golden and the filling set.

I cooled the pie in the pan on a rack, then removed it from the pan to serve.

This was a nice pie with which to finish off this section. It was creamy, cheesy, and savory, and was good not only the day it was made but also for lunch the next day.

So, that’s it for the savory tarts and pies. Stay tuned for some sweet stuff!

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Ligurian Savoy Cabbage Pie {ModBak}

Flush from my success with curried fish pie, it was time for the next Modern Baker Challenge recipe — cabbage pie. The Savoy cabbage for this recipe had been in the refrigerator for a few weeks, so I knew I had to make it soon. I decided to change this one up just a bit. Rather than making a typical double-crust pie, I thought I’d use my new Celtic baker from King Arthur Flour and make it more like a pot pie.

After blanching and shredding the cabbage, I sautéed onion and garlic in olive oil, then added the cabbage and cooked it down.  I scraped the vegetables into a bowl and seasoned them with salt and pepper. I stirred in ricotta, parsley, eggs, and Parmigiano-Reggiano, then poured the mixture into the casserole dish.

I topped the pie with rolled out pieces of crust, then baked it at 375°F for about 30 minutes. The filling set up nicely and the crust was lightly browned and flaky.

Although this dish would make a nice appetizer or light dinner, I served it as part of our St. Patrick’s Day meal, alongside corned beef, mashed redskin potatoes, and Irish brown bread. The cabbage pie was well-seasoned and made a nice accompaniment to the rest of the meal.

I’m not sure I’ll make this dish again, but we did enjoy it as a change from our normal steamed cabbage or Colocannon.

Curried Fish Pie {ModBak}

I’m not sure why the idea of fish pie seems so odd to the American chef. Perhaps because we tend to think of pies as sweet rather than savory. Or maybe it’s that we just don’t cook with fish that often and when we do we make the same recipe we’ve always used for that particular kind of fish. Whatever the reason, most of the participants in the Modern Baker Challenge seemed put off by this recipe. In fact, as I write this, I think I’m the only one who has made this dish. And to be honest, but for the Challenge I doubt I’d have made it, either.

Since I’m the only one in my family who eats fish, I cut the dish down by 2/3 and made two smaller pies instead of one large one. This pie uses the rich pie dough, which I had made ahead of time and frozen in disposable pie pans.

I began by sautéing onions and garlic in olive oil until they were soft and starting to color. I added the fish, lots of spices, and some milk, and simmered gently until the fish was cooked through. Then I shredded the fish with two forks.

I added the rest of the ingredients, which consisted of sugar, vinegar, mango chutney, golden raisins, almonds, and fresh bread crumbs softened in milk.

After mixing everything together and tasting for seasoning, I stirred in the eggs then poured the filling into the prepared shells. I baked the pies at 375°F for about 30 minutes. When the crust was baked through and the filling set, I topped the pies with custard and returned them to the oven for another 10 minutes.

The recipe says to serve the pie at room temperature, but I wasn’t sure about that, so I tried it fresh from the oven.

It shouldn’t have surprised me to find that this pie was delicious. The curry and chutney flavors really came through, and it was not the least bit fishy. It was sweet, tangy, savory, and slightly acidic (in a good way) all at the same time. In fact, I think this was the most subtle and complexly flavored dish that I’ve made from this section of the book.

It’s a shame that so many of the Challenge participants shied away from this recipe. If people had been able to get past their initial reactions and try this dish, I think they would have liked it. 

I’d like to have all the Modern Bakers over and serve them this pie, as I’m sure there would be many converts.