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A Greens Pie for Tasia’s Table

There are things in this world that should go extinct as soon as possible.  Mosquitoes, for example.  High fructose corn syrup.  Television commercials that aren’t funny and don’t have puppies in them.

Also, I could do without leaf blowers.  As I will get drunk and explain to my neighbors one day, YOU ARE JUST BLOWING THE LEAVES AROUND AND AROUND LIKE A CRAZY PERSON.

But it makes me sad that languages are going extinct.  Did you know that three thousand languages may disappear in the next hundred years?  Some of them are spoken in remote areas by fewer than a hundred people.

What really gets me is that when words disappear, we lose the things they describe.  The anthropologist Earl Shorris put it this way after he saw a blue butterfly in Mexico:

There are nine different words in Maya for the color blue. . . but just three Spanish translations, leaving six butterflies that can be seen only by the Maya, proving beyond doubt that when a language dies, six butterflies disappear from the consciousness of the earth.

Sigh.

I think something similar can happen with a recipe.  If a recipe is lost forever, it’s not just the recipe that disappears.  The whole experience of standing before the kitchen sink, of mixing those ingredients, of waiting until it’s time to eat that particular thing, is gone.

That’s why I get happy when people write down recipes and give them to me.

And when my very own friend writes a cookbook, I’m over the moon.  I’m so happy I want to rev a leaf blower in everyone’s face until they promise to check it out.  Not your sweet faces, of course.  Everyone else’s.

For you I made my friend’s greens pie.

It’s a homemade crust filled with asparagus, spinach, collard greens, chickpeas, onions and goat cheese.  It’s delicious.

My friend is Tasia Malakasis and her book is Tasia’s Table.  She’s a Greek+Southern goat cheese maker, so the book is full of recipes like moussaka, celery gratin, corn cakes, and fig and goat cheese tarts.  The photographer is my friend Stephanie Schamban.  You might remember Stephanie because her kid once told me that a wasp’s nest is “where the wasps go to do puberty.”

I didn’t argue.  For all I know it’s an ancient Mayan saying, and it’s true.

Greens Pie {Download & Print Recipe}

from Tasia’s Table, with permission from Tasia.  Serves six.

Katherine’s note:  If you don’t like asparagus or collard greens, substitute something else.  I bet blanched kale or swiss chard would work.  I didn’t have a deep dish pie tin, so I used a regular one.  I knew not all the greens would fit in there, so when I got to the part about adding the cheeses and egg to the greens mixture, I actually set aside about 1/3 of the greens.  I ate that for lunch the next day.  I added the cheeses and egg to the remaining 2/3 of the greens mixture, which was the perfect amount of filling for one pie.

Easy Dough Recipe

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, unsalted, cold and cut into small pieces

3 tablespoons ice water

Directions:

Blend flour, sugar and salt in processor.  Add butter and cut in, using on/off turns, until coarse meal forms.  Add 3 tablespoons water.  Using on/off turns, blend just until moist clumps form, adding more water by 1/2 tablespoonfuls if dough is dry.  Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk.  Wrap in plastic; refrigerate 1 hour.  (Can be made 2 days ahead.  Keep chilled.  Soften slightly at room temperature before rolling.)

[Tasia’s cook’s note:  I will cut the butter in small pats and then freeze.  I keep some like this on hand for when a crust might need to come into my life.]

On a lightly floured surface, roll 1 dough portion [Katherine’s note: this is 1/2 of the disk] to 1/8-inch thickness.  Press into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prick bottom and sides of dough with a fork.  Line with parchment paper and fill with rice, beans, or pie weights.

Bake until crust is light golden brown just around the edges, 12-15 minutes.  Let cool.

Remove the paper and the pie weights.

Filling

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced

1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped

1 large celery stalk

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced

1 bag (16 ounces) collards, chopped, parboiled and drained well [Katherine’s note: this means boiled in salty water until tender 8-10 minutes, then plunged in ice water and then drained in a collander.  Parboiling before cooking with collards is great because it removes the bitterness]

1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed and sliced into 1-2-inch pieces

1 bag (5 ounces) spinach [Katherine’s note: most bags are bigger; just eyeball 5 ounces]

1 bunch green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 can (15 1/2 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon black pepper, ground

3 ounces goat cheese

1 tablespoon Parmesan

1 large egg

Salt and pepper, to taste

Pinch red pepper flakes

Directions:

In a large, deep sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add onions, carrot, celery and garlic.  Cook until vegetables are soft, approximately 6 minutes.  Add bay leaf and thyme, stirring to combine.  Add collards, asparagus, spinach, green onions, chickpeas, salt and pepper.  Cook until liquids cook off, approximately 10 minutes.  Remove from heat, and let mixture cool.  Remove and discard bay leaf.

In a small bowl, stir together cheeses and egg.  Add mixture to greens [first see Katherine’s headnote], stirring well to combine.  Season with salt and pepper and red pepper flakes to taste.  (If the greens mixture has excess liquid at the bottom of the bowl, drain it before adding to the crust.

Spoon filling into prepared pie shell.

On a lightly floured surface, roll remaining portion of dough into 1/8-inch thickness.  Carefully place over the top of the filling, pressing dough to edges of the pie plate to seal.  [Katherine’s note:  at this point I brushed gently with egg wash–1 egg whisked with a tablespoon of water.] Cut an X in the top of the dough to vent.  Bake [Katherine’s note: at 350 degrees] until crust is golden brown, approximately 20-30 minutes.

~~~

Thunder and her own version of a greens pie:

Disclaimer: I think I’m supposed to tell you that I got an advance copy of the book to review.  But my honest opinion is that the book is awesome.

41 Comments Post a comment
  1. This looks delicious — without the asparagus. I’ve got turnip greens and beet greens in the house — just might have to make a greens pie soon. Thanks.

    October 4, 2012
    • Mmm… I see turnip greens in all the stores here, but I’ve never had them. Same with beet greens. Are they less bitter than mustard greens?

      October 4, 2012
      • I generally get greens attached to the root vegetables. Turnip greens are my least favorite. Beet greens are good with cumin seeds. I like mustard greens and don’t think of them as bitter — to me the bitter ones are kale and dandelion greens, radicchio.

        October 4, 2012
  2. Great post :) It’s sad to know that those six butterflies will now go invisible to humans for lack of proper names. Being partly Finnish, I know there are several languages about to be lost forever in northern Scandinavia. There are people recording elders to capture their dialects and tongues so we at least have historic evidence future generations can hear.

    Can we call texting a new language? I still don’t get 90% of it, I get about as for as LMAOROTF :)

    October 4, 2012
    • That’s interesting about the project to record the elders. I recorded someone who lived in Virginia during the civil rights movement for a history project when I was little. It was one of the most fun things I ever did for school, and something I wish all kids had to do. You had to be really patient so as not to rush it, and you had to listen really hard. It was just kind of magical. I wish I knew a language fluently so I could work on a project like they’re doing in nothern Scandanavia–I think I’d like it a lot.

      October 4, 2012
      • Kisså #

        There are similar projects all over the world. National Geographic had an article about disappearing Native American languages a couple months ago. When I looked for it online I found this neat page on disappearing languages: http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/enduring-voices/
        There’s audio snippets of endangered languages!

        October 4, 2012
  3. What if those six butterflies are hanging out with those naughty wasps doing, you know, puberty things…

    October 4, 2012
    • BWAHAHAHA. Then perhaps they will create new species! And then nothing will go extinct at all!

      October 4, 2012
  4. What a Great, Healthy Recipe – thanks for sharing! I love checking out and yes reading cookbooks, so will have to check this one out for sure. Have a Great Day:)

    October 4, 2012
    • I love reading cookbooks, too. I can’t wait to come up with a list of cookbooks that I’ll beg someone to get me for Christmas. Do you have any favorites that you’d recommend?

      Have a great weekend!

      October 5, 2012
  5. Lyn #

    Is Thunder eating a toad? ew.

    October 4, 2012
    • Basically, yes.

      Lyn, for some reason, Thunder only likes the dirtiest, smooshiest, wettest, most toad-like tennis balls she can find. I think she enjoys them because she can grab onto them easier, which makes her better at playing tug with them (against me or Scott. Though sometimes I look at the ball and I’m like “eeew, there is no way I’m going to touch that thing!)

      October 5, 2012
  6. I love Thunder!

    October 4, 2012
  7. We live in a globalized world where technology allows us to share and communicate as never before. Yet there is a price to pay in the loss of traditions, languages, art and even food. That is why the blogger community is so important as a resource to future generations. We document our lives, our hopes and dreams with each post and comment. Perhaps we are creating new traditions… Thank you for an excellent post.

    October 4, 2012
    • So true. Isn’t it amazing to think that people (kids or nieces or nephews, or whoever) will be able to read our blogs long into the future, and get a sense of who we were? It boggles my mind sometimes.

      October 5, 2012
  8. Jen #

    I read your blog and then coincidentally I saw this on yahoo, http://news.yahoo.com/scottish-man-dies-taking-towns-dialect-him-122022552.html. It’s sad because when a language is lost, so is the culture.

    On a happier note, I just want to say that I love your pictures of Thunder and Seymour. They brighten my day :o)

    October 4, 2012
    • Wow, Jen–the dialect in the article you mentioned still had “thees” and “thous” in it here and there. How neat is that? (other than, of course, the fact that it’s sadly gone now.)

      October 15, 2012
  9. Holycrudthislooksdelicious… Stunning photos, too! And actually, I know a couple of kids who really really really really like to have their faces blown with a leaf blower.

    October 4, 2012
    • Ha! I can only imagine. . .

      October 15, 2012
  10. What an apt observation and good reason to be grateful for recipes! This one looks awfully good. You can’t go wrong with greens and goat cheese!

    October 4, 2012
    • Yeah, greens and goat cheese is a winning combination, apparently!

      October 15, 2012
  11. I love the Vulcan Mind Meld Thunder throws on that pie. “Your thought to my thoughts…”

    Hey, would you ever try out some vegan recipes here? I’d love to see what you could do with stuff I can eat. The greens pie almost made it, except for the cheese and eggs. I’m trying to figure out what to substitute there instead. Any ideas?

    October 5, 2012
    • Sandy Sue, I will totally try a vegan recipe! I’ve never (intentionally, at least) cooked vegan before, so I will do some research. I’m trying to think of what you could substitute for the cheese and eggs in this recipe. Basically, the egg just holds the greens together a little bit, and the goat cheese makes is subtle, so. . . it might work fine if you leave them out. You also might be able to add a little soy milk and flour when sauteeing the greens to get the same thickness for the filling.. .

      October 15, 2012
  12. This pie sounds incredible. I’m making this this weekend! Thank you, Nikki

    October 5, 2012
    • Nikki, I hope you like it. It’s a new favorite of mine.

      October 15, 2012
  13. First, this pie looks wicked awesome. It has wicked awesomeness in full effect. Also, you are obviously more famous than I thought. I mean, you’re hanging around with cookbook authors and food photographers. I hang around with artists and kids who’ve just managed to scrape through high school. It is not the same.

    Also, I hate leaf blowers more than just about anything else on the planet. I get violent about it.

    October 6, 2012
    • Dude, I got nothing on you. You are a legit ballerina and baker who can pirouette while making an award-winning pie crust. Meanwhile, I’m an amateur with an electric stove who often forgets to add flour to a bread recipe because I’ve noticed a half-open bottle of wine on the (formica) kitchen counter.

      October 15, 2012
  14. nik #

    Love the quote…mind-dazzling that there could still be six “invisible” blue butterflies flitting about like ethereal wayward fairies.
    Thanks for the the recipe and supergorgeous post!

    October 7, 2012
    • Nik, what a wonderful comment. “Like ethereal wayward fairies”. . . just lovely.

      October 15, 2012
  15. Thank you for that beautiful quotation on the disappearance of language. I’m now inspired to have my grandmother teach me to make some of her wonderful dishes.

    October 7, 2012
  16. This may freak you out. But LANGUAGE IS AWESOME.

    October 8, 2012
    • That was fascinating! I’m so glad you posted it. I was really amazed at the second part–when it really seemed clear that linguistic categories affected perception.

      It’s funny you posted this, because a few weeks ago I wound up reading this wikipedia page about distinguishing between green and blue: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distinguishing_blue_from_green_in_language

      Interesting that so many languages don’t make the distinction, and that “distinct terms for brown, purple, pink, orange and grey will not emerge in a language until the language has made a distinction between green and blue.”

      October 15, 2012
  17. Amy #

    wow such pretty pics! And the recipe sounds pretty yummy.

    October 8, 2012
    • Since I didn’t come up with it myself, I can say for sure (without worrying that I’m being partial) that It is indeed a killer recipe!

      October 15, 2012
  18. I love your photography! So great to meet you through this potluck. Lucky you to call both of these amazing women friends!

    As a linguist, I feel your pain. Globalization works in some very sinister and unpredictable ways:(

    October 9, 2012
  19. greens pie sounds so interesting to me: it’s one of those things i’ve never, ever had, which makes zero sense because i love everything inside this recipe. like the ratatouille you made (and i made, and subsequently loved and made several more times), i need to get my act together and just do it, because i know it’ll be wonderful.

    October 19, 2012
  20. annerichardson #

    i have been wondering (though not actually searching :/ ) for a greens recipe. this one has landed in my lap and it looks incredible!

    October 22, 2012

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