The Love Affair Begins

You know that feeling of intense pleasure you get from walking out to your garden on a bright yellow day, picking a summer-ripe tomato from the vine, still warm from the sun, and taking a luscious bite, seeds spurting, juices dripping down your chin….

No? Me neither.

I can’t say I really enjoy tomatoes. I like pizza sauce, salsa, and all kinds of tomato derivatives well enough but I’ve never enjoyed a plain, old-fashioned tomato on it’s own accord. This summer, however, I am trying to incorporate fresh, ripe tomatoes into my diet. I started slowly with a tomato slice on a burger. And now, I must admit, I really enjoy a toasted tomato sandwich: my mom’s home made brown bread, thick slices of tomatoes picked that morning, some fresh dill, a little goat cheese (who am I kidding: a LOT of goat cheese). So simple and fresh.

Maybe I haven’t given tomatoes a fair shake in the past. Centuries ago they were thought to be an aphrodisiac: the French called the cherry-red tomato d’amour or poma amoris. The love apple or fruit of love. Maybe I could learn to love a tomato. I certainly loved the Tomato & Zucchini Hand Pies I made last weekend. I have a pasta recipe with cherry tomatoes begging to made. Maybe this is where my love affair with tomatoes begins: after all, the French couldn’t have been that wrong…

Tomato & Zucchini Hand Pies

adapted from: marthastewart.com

makes 12 hand pies

Pate Brisee (the fancy, French way of making Pie Crust):

  • 2 1/2 C flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 sticks butter, cold
  • 1/4 – 1/2 C ice-cold water
  • Sift together flour and salt. Mix in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal or butter is in pea sized chunks.
  • Slowly add 1/4 C water. If dough is too dry add more water 1 Tbsp at a time.
  • Divide dough in half, wrap in plastic, and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Filling:

  • 4-5 large, ripe tomatoes cut into 1/2″ slices
  • 1/2 purple onion, thickly sliced
  • 1 medium zucchini cut into quarters
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped, fresh oregano
  • 1/2 C crumbled goat or feta cheese
  • 1 large egg white beaten
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Lightly grease a muffin tin.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8″ thick. Cut into 4″ squares. Press each square into the cup of your muffin tin leaving an overhang. Chill for another 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, place tomatoes, onion, and zucchini on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper. Roast about 30 minutes or until tomatoes begin to shrivel. Let cool slightly then transfer to a bowl. Chop any large pieces to about 1/2″.
  • Divide half the oregano and cheese among the 12 dough lined muffin cups. Top with the tomato-zucchini mixture. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and oregano. Fold corners of dough towards the centre and brush with egg wash.
  • Reduce oven heat to 375. Bake pies until crusts are golden brown about 50-60 minutes.
  • Let pies cool completely in the muffin tin on a wire wrack.
  • If not eating the same day, pies store well in the muffin tin in the fridge for about 24 hours. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Notes:

  • I think I should have rolled the dough thinner; the pie crust was a little thick. I used the entire recipe for 12 hand pies. Next time I would try and use 3/4 of the dough. Maybe I would use the remaining 1/4 for  a couple mini dessert pies: peaches and blueberries, anyone?
  • Do not be scared off by Pate Brisee! It’s easy and you will be so thankful you tried it. Store bought pie crusts will become a faded, distant memory. To save time, make up a couple batches of Pate Brisee and store it in the freezer. I’ve never known my mom to NOT have pie dough in her freezer.
  • Make sure you put in enough filling. It’s ok for the cups to be rounded full. And try experimenting with whatever fresh veggies & herbs you have on hand.
  • These Tomato & Zucchini Hand Pies are perfect for a picnic with your amour! I don’t know if tomatoes truly have aphrodisiac properties… but, put on a flowing summer skirt, spread out a pretty picnic blanket, open a bottle of Prosecco to enjoy with your Tomato Hand Pies, play a little Etta James on your portable ipod speakers and I’ll bet the French weren’t that far off…
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3 thoughts on “The Love Affair Begins

  1. Pingback: Project Food Blog: A Girl’s Picnic » The Novice Chef Blog

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