Ugly-no-more pie

December 21, 2009


Remember my ugly but delicious pie?  The one that made my colleagues gasp in a not-so-good way when I pulled it out for lunch?

Well, it’s been bugging me ever since, and with a rapidly growing sense of urgency.  See, my Unbelievably Adorable Dad’s birthday is coming up soon and I very much want the pie’s flavor –but not its looks–at our party. Really, one should not have to celebrate getting within a year of Medicare eligibility with a breathtakingly unattractive dish.

And behold!  The problem has been solved.  Thanks, Serious Eaters, for your many good ideas.  It was actually Chef R0bert’s observation–that the following ingredients, mixed, were simply not going to produce an appetizing concoction–that made me slap my forehead and realize that I should simply layer them instead.

Baby portabella + butternut squash+kale pie

  • 1 pie crust (yours or Pilsbury’s; I’m not going to judge)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1lb baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 butternut squash, microwaved (like this) and disemboweled
  • 1 fistful of kale, ripped into bite-sized pieces and steamed for 5 minutes
  • 1 14oz can roasted, diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 tablespoon chipotle pepper (or more, if you’re like me and like FIRE)
  • salt to taste
  • a toss of blue cheese

You will notice that kale and blue cheese are the only deviations from the original recipe.  The kale is there because I desperately needed something green all of a sudden, and the blue cheese joined the party simply because that’s what we had this time around.

  1. Sautee the onion, garlic, and mushrooms for a couple of minutes.
  2. Pour the mushroom mixture into the pie crust.  Top with layers of squash, tomatoes, kale, cheese.
  3. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 350F.

Is this not SO much better?

Ugly pie

December 10, 2009

Reader, I made an ugly pie.  Tasty as all get-out, but indisputably ugly.  You know: the kind that causes your colleagues to exclaim “What’s that?” when you pull it out for lunch–and not in a good way?

Baby portabella + butternut squash pie

  • 1 pie crust (yours or Pilsbury’s; I’m not going to judge)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1lb baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 butternut squash, microwaved (like this) and disemboweled
  • 1 14oz can roasted, diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 tablespoon chipotle pepper (or more, if you’re like me and like FIRE)
  • salt to taste
  • a toss of shredded cheese
  1. Sautee the onion, garlic, and mushrooms for a couple of minutes.
  2. Add the squash innards, tomatoes, salt, and chipotle pepper; stir well to combine.
  3. Pour the vegetable mixture into the pie crust, throw some cheese on top, and bake for 15-20 minutes at 350F.

So, there you have it: my delicious, homely pie.  But what’s missing?  Perhaps a sturdy leafy vegetable to add a pop of color?  Or maybe a coarsely chopped fennel bulb for some texture contrast?  Or should it all just go straight into the Bass-O-Matic?


We’re off to New Orleans later this week.  There shall be muffulettas, and mint juleps, and beignets, and a visit to Galatoire’s.  And there shall surely be heartbreak.  But, first things first: we must empty the fridge to get it ready for our absence, and for the holiday food orgy that will kick in shortly after our return.

So, what have we got?  For starters: a butternut squash, some onions, a few carrots, and a couple of sad pepper halves.  And speaking of sad! you should see the remnants of that kale bunch I raided last week.  Then there are also some potatoes, a single stem of broccoli (where did its siblings go?), and two striped eggplants for which I once had some fancy plans.

It’s a challenge, then: nothing will go to waste, and it will all be delicious.  So, let’s start with this cheesy butternut squash+kale casserole:

  • innards of 1 butternut squash
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1/2 bunch kale
  • 1 8oz can of tomato sauce (or 1/2 of a larger one)
  • 2 tbsp cottage cheese
  • a fistful of shredded cheese (smoked gouda in our case)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pinches of a couple of herbs (e.g., oregano, tarragon)
  1. Microwave the butternut squash; let it cool.  Scoop out its innards and place them into a shallow greased dish.  (You can add seasonings some at this point; just smoosh them in.)
  2. Saute the onion for ~5 minutes.  Add a splash of water, salt+pepper+seasonings, and kale leaves torn into bite-sized pieces.  Cover and let steam on low for ~3 minutes.
  3. Pile the kale and onion mixture on the butternut squash.  Cover with tomato sauce and cottage cheese.  Sprinkle the shredded cheese across the top.
  4. Bake for ~35 minutes on 375F.
  5. Eat with that buttermilk bread that you were originally going to take to your sister.

_SDI1224

Perhaps I should say that this started out as a butternut squash + leek soup:

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 3 leeks

But then, somehow, these guys joined the show:

  • 2 carrots
  • 1 potato

Why the random amounts?  Because that’s precisely how much of each of those things I had in my kitchen.  I am sure that more or less of any of the above would be just fine.

If you’re playing along at home, you will also need approximately:

  • 4 cups of water
  • 2 cups of vegetable or chicken broth

And then:

  1. Coarsely chop the leeks, carrots and potato.  Add them to the boiling water + broth and cook on low until soft (~7 minutes).
  2. While the vegetables are simmering, poke many a hole in your butternut squash and microwave it for 10-12 minutes.  Once it’s cool, peel it and remove the seeds.
  3. In your blender or food processor, puree the vegetables and broth in batches.  Toward the end, add the butternut squash.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste.  And while you’re at it, surely you will also want to toss in some crushed sage.  Look, pretty!
  5. Really, you want another step?