Say “Happy Thanksgiving!” with a double crusted fennel, pecan, and black bean pie!

Black bean, fennel and pecan pie

Memphis Minnie tells us that she hates to see the evening sun go down, and I know what she means! Dusk always makes me feel a little melancholy, particularly this time of year when it comes so early. When I was little we’d go for walks after dinner, at that time of day that people had their lights on but hadn’t closed their curtains yet. It always made me feel lonely to get a small glimpse of other people’s lives, in the circle of their own lit rooms. Sometimes it seemed that my family – my mom and dad and brother and I – were alone on a little raft of space, surrounded by vast empty darkness. Yes, I was an odd child! For some reason the light feels wider-reaching and more substantial now. I said during this recent power outage that I would never take light and heat for granted again, and I stand by that. So we here at The Ordinary would like to wish everybody a happy thanksgiving, filled with light and warmth. Not just the magic of electrical light and warmth, but the light of knowledge and the warmth of human connection. The warmth of the circle of your own family, and the warmth generated by the kindness of strangers. The bright clear light that chases out the darkness of ignorance and cruelty. The vivid light of inspiration and creativity, like the sparks that I see shooting out of my boys, particularly when they click against each other, creating fireworks that I can’t really contain in this house! The eccentric individual light of life that glows in each person, that we might try to hide sometimes. Let it pour out! Let it gleam! Let yourself shine and glow! And, of course, the warmth of a hot meal, shared with loved friends – we wish that for everyone on earth. Everyone! Awwww, man, I know, we’re getting a bit sappy and cliched – I see you rolling your eyes, you in the back of the class! That’s what we do in America on thanksgiving. It’s tradition. But I wish it for you anyway – I wish you warmth and light!

Here’s Nina Simone, with Jelly Roll. She shines and glows, even when she’s wrapped in black. And Mos Def, with Umi Says His Umi told him to let his light shine onto the world…

Life is not promised
Tomorrow may never appear
You better hold this very moment very close to you
Very close to you
So close to you, So- close to you
Don’t be afraid, to let it shine

We’re going to David’s mom’s house for thanksgiving, and I’m bringing this double crusted pie. It has black beans, fennel, spinach, pecans, a bit of sharp cheddar, a peppery crust. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ll let you know if everybody does a spit take when they taste it!


2 cups flour
1 stick butter (1/2 cup) frozen
1 t salt
lots and lots and lots of freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup (+/-) ice water

Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a medium-sized bowl. Grate the frozen butter in, and mix with a fork till you have a coarse crumbly texture. Stir in the olive oil, and mix in the ice water, kneading slightly to be sure everything is well-combined and distributed. Wrap in foil and chill in the fridge for at least half an hour.

Meanwhile, prepare THE FILLING

2 T olive oil
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 medium-sized fennel, core and feathers removed, chopped quite fine
1 shallot – minced
2 cloves garlic – minced
1 t rosemary
1 t sage
1 t thyme
splash of white wine
2 cups baby spinach, chopped fairly fine
1 t smoked paprika
pinch each mustard powder and nutmeg
dash tamari
2 pieces whole wheat bread, ground into crumbs
1 cup grated sharp cheddar
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
salt and plenty of freshly grated black pepper

1 egg – beaten

In a large frying pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the shallot, cook for about a minute till it starts to brown. Add the garlic and herbs, cook for another minute. Add the fennel, stir to coat, and cook for about five minutes, till it’s softened and starting to brown. Add the black beans, stir and cook till they’re hot through. Add the splash of wine to loosen up anything that’s stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add the spinach, the paprika, tamari, nutmeg and mustard and a few tablespoons of water. Stir and cook until the spinach is wilted, and the pan is quite dry.

Transfer to a bowl and stir in the pecans, cheese, bread crumbs, salt and pepper. Stir in all but about 1 T of the egg.

Preheat the oven to 425. Break off 3/4 of the dough and roll it to be about 1/4″ thick. Lightly butter and flour a springform pan or cake pan. Press the dough into the pan and up the sides, leaving a rim of about 1 inch. Spread the filling evenly into the pan. Roll out the remaining quarter of dough to be a circle about 1/4 inch thick and slightly bigger that the pan. Place it on top. Pinch the edges together and roll them down, slightly, then use a fork to press them against the sides of the pan to make a sort of rim. If you like, use some extra dough to make a pretty pattern. Brush the top lightly with egg.

Bake for about 45 minutes, till it’s puffed and golden. Let it cool slightly before you turn it out of the pan.


4 thoughts on “Say “Happy Thanksgiving!” with a double crusted fennel, pecan, and black bean pie!

  1. On Christmas Day, when I was a teenager (we don’t have Thanksgiving so I have to give a Christmas example) we used to go walking round the posh part of town after dark – and after we’d done the washing up, so that Mother could have a sit down – to look in through their windows, and count the number of Mercs and Beemers on their drives. And we used to say that none of those people had had a Christmas dinner anything like as good as ours. Because Mother was the best cook in the world!

    One year my brother and his wife had her parents visiting at their house, so they came over too, and her brother called in unexpectedly, having just arrived from Tasmania. He’d been on the plane so long that he really did fall asleep with his head in the plate! (We woke him up though.)

  2. Pingback: week of january 11 – maren's mom runs

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