Lentil chard and pecan pie
If the sun ever came out you felt that it might be warm, but the morning was cold and damp. A pretty mist clung to the ghostly sycamores and the blue-bronze wintery leaves, and it crept inside to chill your bones. All the vendors at the flea market huddled or paced behind their tables to keep warm. It was a slow day, but wednesdays are always slow days. They had a slight rush of business. A lunchtime rush? Too early for lunchtime, way too early for lunchtime. Well I’m eating lunch. Yeah, but you’ve been up since four. Oh, I got up at three this morning, and thought why bother going back to sleep? Oh, that’s just terrible. I can give you the owl for five dollars, or the goose for eight. Half price on all the jewelry, and everything is fifty cents in this box. Behind one table stood an elderly man with an unperturbable smile on his face. A woman walked up to his wares and he said, “Tremors!” by way of greeting. He held up his hands in demonstration, and they were, indeed shaking. “I’ve got tremors.” “Well, we still like you,” said the woman. “And I still like myself!” He replied brightly. And then they discussed crocheted blankets, just the thing to keep you warm an on early December morning.
French lentil, chard, and olive pie
We went to the flea market to search for Christmas presents and came home with nothing but a stack of cake pans and pie tins for Claire! What a brat. They’re beautiful and slightly mysterious vintage French pie tins and cake pans, and I love them. And I’m looking forward to using them. I made this pie in one such vintage french cake tins. It’s a little broader and flatter than a traditional American cake pan, which makes a nice double-crusted savory pie. This is filled with some of my favorites–french lentils, swiss chard and black olives. I also tried something new, which was to blend eggs with pecans and mix that right in with the filling. Almost like a pecan frangipane. I thought it turned out very tasty. If you don’t like olives, don’t be put off this recipe. Try substituting raisins!
Here’s Soldiers Things by Tom Waits, my flea market theme song.
This is the time of year for savory pastries! (somebody told me I say the word “savory” too often. And perhaps I do, but somebody’s got to!) They’re so warm and comforting, and they’re the perfect solution to the problem of trying to feed vegetarians a holiday meal. Or to feed non-vegetarians a meal special and satisfying enough that they don’t miss their meat.
Let’s start with the grandmother of all savory pies…the Empanada Gallega. This empanada is probably the source of empanadas all over the world. It hails from Galicia, in Northwestern Spain, and it’s a large flat pie that would be cut into pieces. I’ve never been to Galicia, and I’ve never eaten a genuine empanada gallega, but I’ve been so taken with the idea of it, and I’ve read so much about it, that I feel like I have! I’ve cobbled together a vegetarian version of my idea of an empanada gallega. It’s delicious, relatively simple to make, and it feeds a lot of people. I believe that seafood, specifically tuna, is used in the real version. I’ve experimented with different types of vegetables…mushrooms, eggplant, spinach, zucchini. The combination I like best, in the end, is artichoke hearts and zucchini. Baby spinach would work well in that combination, too, if you’re in the mood. If you’re not a fan of zucchini, you could stick with artichoke hearts by themselves. Whatever you like! We’re making it up as we go along, so it’s very adaptable. You know what would be good? Artichoke hearts and roasted red peppers. I’ll try that next time!!
In Galicia, the patterns on the pies help to identify what kind of filling is inside. Since I just make one at a time, we just have fun with them. My son made the owl!
Here’s Grant Green’s Empanada