My alternate title for this post was:
"Ways I Try To Get My Kids To Eat Vegetables."
As the name implies, I am always trying to find sneaky ways to get my kids to eat vegetables that they would otherwise shun. What better way, I thought, than to hide them in a pie? The original name for this recipe was "Zucchini, Tomato and Cheese Tart". But since I decided to vary the recipe (I swapped out the frozen puff pastry crust for a pre-made standard pie crust), I thought I, technically speaking, needed to change the name.
A tart, according to Barron's Food Lover's Companion, is "a pastry crust with shallow sides, a filling and no top crust." A pie, on the other hand, has a much broader definition and is "a sweet or savory dish made with a crust and filling." A pie crust can be on the top, bottom, or both. It can be shallow or deep and can be made from a variety of ingredients, including mashed potatoes (i.e. Shepherd's Pie). I could have also called this recipe a Quiche, "a pastry shell filled with a savory custard made of eggs, cream, seasonings and various other ingredients," but, since real men don't eat quiche, I would have lost my biggest customer. Also, technically, my pans did not have fluted sides.
So with a couple of found pie crusts in the freezer (from last Thanksgiving), I embarked on my Zucchini pies. The first step was quartering 4 zucchini, or, in my case, 2 zucchini and 2 yellow summer squash.
After quartering, slice them thinly.
For perfect slices, I used one of my favorite tools, the mandoline.
Next, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and saute diced onion, garlic and zucchini. Add one can of well drained diced tomatoes. Cook until liquid evaporates. Note: I ended up pouring off some of the liquid so that I wouldn't end up completely cooking the zucchini into mush!
In a separate bowl, combine eggs, salt and grated smoked Gouda. (I used what I had on hand - mozzarella and Pecorino Romano, but the smoked Gouda would have been even better!)
When the sauteed vegetables are cooled, combine them with the egg and cheese mixture and pour them into the pie crusts. I doubled the recipe to make two pies, but ended up with so much filling, I had enough to make three! Fortunately, I managed to scavenger one more and final pie crust from the freezer!
I thought the pies were delicious. The zucchini had such a mild flavor that it was barely perceivable amongst the flaky crust and gooey cheese. The family, however, took a took their time getting past the fact that they could still see the vegetables they were about to eat.
Perry: "It's better than I thought it would be."
Samuel: (my new favorite child) MMMM...this is really good!!!
Anna: Finally agreed that the zucchini wasn't bad and she would eat it if she could pick out the tomatoes.
Ella: Ate her required one bite and then went to the fridge and got an apple. (I don't fix kid food!)
Arielle: Normally my most adventurous eater was in a foul mood and refused to touch it. I put it in the fridge for later. When later came and she asked for a snack, I pulled out her plate and said she needed to eat her dinner first. (Yes, I'm really that mean!) This time, she ate it readily and even admitted to liking it!
Zucchini, Tomato, and Cheese Pie
Adapted from The Food Network
1 pre-made 9" Deep Dish pie crust
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 14-ounce can ready cut diced tomatoes, well drained (I like Muir Glen's Fire-Roasted Tomatoes)
3 large eggs
1 cup smoked Gouda (or whatever cheese you have on hand)
1/2 teaspoon salt,
Generous seasoning freshly ground black pepper (if you're into that)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Remove pie crust from the freezer.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook for 5 minutes, or until the onion is slightly tender. Stir in the zucchini and saute just until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Mix in the drained tomatoes and raise the heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring often, until the zucchini is tender but mushy and the juices have evaporated. Let cool. If the vegetables have cooked long enough but are still juicy, pour off excess liquid.
Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Stir in the cheese, salt, pepper and cooled vegetables. Spoon the mixture into the pie pan. Bake 25 - 30 minutes, or until the crust is brown and a knife inserted in the center of the pie comes out clean. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving. Serves 4-6.
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