Eggplant pie with greens, quince, and hazelnut

Eggplant pie with greens, quince & hazelnuts

We started bird watching back in our courting days. We’d wake up as close to dawn as we could muster, we’d stop at Dunkin Donuts for some sweet coffee, and we’d listen to the Sudson Country radio show on the way out. Despite having been born in Kansas, I’d never listened to a lot of country music, and I’d never heard the classics. Kitty Wells, the undisputed queen of country; Lefty Frizzell, with his sweet, gentle voice; Hank Williams, with his twangy sass – they all seemed to fit, somehow, with our sleepy mood and the slanting morning light. Then we’d find our field or our trail, and we’d begin the slow, silent walk, stopping at every flutter of wings in the trees over our heads. It’s hard to describe the thrill of seeing your first yellowthroat, your first oriole, warblers, vireos…good lord – wood thrushes and veeries – with their hopeful, haunting songs. It boggled my mind that all of these birds had been here, all along. They weren’t new. I’d never bothered to look at them, I’d never taken the time to look up, and discover the teeming world in the tangled branches of the trees. We’d come home and write our finds in a little turquoise-covered blank book that I’d been saving for years for something special. Then we’d check each other for ticks. Birdwatching is a little like falling in love, in a way – you catch a glimpse of something bright and beautiful. You can’t believe it’s really alive, with its small warmth and its fast-beating heart. You’ve heard about it; you’ve read about it in your bird book. Other people claim to have seen it, but, frankly, you’re a little skeptical. You’re not convinced it even exists. Then when you’ve got it, you hold it in your sight, you know you’ll never understand it, but you try to identify it, this wild, fragile, lively thing.

We don’t have a lot of chances to go bird watching any more, what with children and real life and all of their demands. But we went on a lovely bike ride this morning, and it makes me happy to know they’re all still there. We can still catch a glimpse of a bird and know what we’re seeing. We’ll hear a sweet little song, or a hoarse call, and we know what we’re hearing. We’re still part of their world, and they’re still part of ours.

Eggplant pie

So! Eggplant pie! It’s got thin layers of crispy rosemary/balsamic-marinated breaded eggplant. It’s got layers of chard and spinach, sauteed with garlic and red pepper and mixed with quince jam. It’s got layers of crispy toasted hazelnuts, and it’s got layers of melted cheese. Odd combination, you say? Oddly perfect together!! All in a crispy crust. If I do say so myself (when have I not, eh?) it turned out really delicious. I think this would be nice for a party or a picnic, because it tastes good even when it’s not hot out of the oven, and it holds together well for carrying around with you. So you can take it for an evening-time picnic, and walk around with it as you look for all the birds that come out at in the gloaming!

Here’s Left Frizzell with I Love You A Thousand Ways.

1 batch paté brisée made with 2 cups of flour and one stick of butter.

1 batch eggplant made this way. I cut the eggplant into thin rounds, and breaded it with mostly flour and about 1/2 cup bread crumbs. I kept the seasoning simple – lots of rosemary and a touch of basil.

Mix of greens – (chard and spinach are nice. I used frozen spinach, fresh chard and fresh spinach. Shocking, I know! I don’t like to use frozen spinach too often, but I didn’t have as much chard and fresh spinach as I thought I did, so I had to break into my emergency bag of frozen. I feel like you can never have enough greens! I used half a bunch of chard, one cup fresh and three cups frozen. Ended up with maybe 3 cups of cooked greens.)
1 T olive oil
1 clove garlic – minced
1 t rosemary
1/2 t red pepper flakes
1/2 t basil
1/3 cup quince jelly

1 egg – beaten
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
2-3 cups grated sharp cheddar, gruyere or mozzarella

Wash and dry and chop the greens. Warm the oil in a large frying pan. Add the garlic and herbs. When the garlic just starts to brown, add the greens. Cook till they’re wilted but bright and the pan is starting to dry out. While they’re still hot, stir in the quince jelly. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in all but about 1 tablespoon of the beaten egg.

Preheat the oven to 425. Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan.

Roll out 3/4 of your dough to be about 1/8th inch thick. It should fit the bottom of the pan, and just go up to the top all the way around. It doesn’t need to be neat or even, because you’ll be rolling it up.

Put a layer of 1/3 of the eggplant on the bottom. Spread half the greens over that. Then half the cheese, then half the hazelnuts. The put another 1/3 of eggplant. Then the rest of the greens, the rest of the cheese and the rest of the hazelnuts. Top with the last of the eggplant.

Roll out the remaining 1/4 of dough to be just larger than the top of the pan. Lay it on top of the eggplant layers. Pinch it all around with the bottom, and roll it down to make a rim. Use a fork to make pretty tine-marks and press it all together. Poke the top in a few places with a fork. Brush with the rest of the eggs.

Bake for about half an hour, till it’s golden brown on top. Let it sit for a few minutes before you cut into it.

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3 thoughts on “Eggplant pie with greens, quince, and hazelnut

  1. Pingback: Zucchini corn bread | Out of the Ordinary

  2. Pingback: 15 Perfect Vegetable Pies

  3. Pingback: 15 Grandma’s Old Fashioned Pie Recipes

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