Caramelized Zucchini Phyllo Pie with Corn & Herbs

This phyllo-crusted savory pie is packed with caramelized summer zucchini. It is a wonderful way to gobble up an abundance of fresh squash from the garden or your CSA share. 🙂 I loved that it was baked in a cast iron skillet too.

The recipe was adapted from thekitchn.com, contributed by Grace Elkus. We ate it for dinner with a green salad but it could also be served for a special brunch or lunch- an amazing summer meal.

Yield: Serves 6

  • 6 phyllo sheets from a 1-pound package of frozen phyllo dough (13×18-inch), thawed in the refrigerator overnight
  • 1 1/2 pounds zucchini (about 3 medium)
  • 2 medium-large shallots
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup tightly-packed coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves, plus whole leaves for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh dill
  • 1 1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese (1 scant cup freshly grated)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels (from about 2 ears fresh)
  • 3 ounces feta cheese (about 1/3 cup crumbled)
  • hot sauce, for serving (optional)
  1. Thaw 1 (1-pound) package phyllo dough overnight in the refrigerator, if needed (if there are two interior packages, just thaw one). Unroll and stack 6 of the phyllo sheets on a large baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap, wax paper, or a damp kitchen towel and leave at room temperature. Reroll the remaining phyllo sheets, place in a gallon-size zip-top freezer bag, and refreeze for another use. (I covered it with a damp paper towel topped with plastic wrap.)
  2. Trim the ends off 1 1/2 pounds zucchini. Slice each in half crosswise, then halve lengthwise. Slice lengthwise into thin planks. Place in a large bowl.
  3. Halve and thinly slice 2 shallots. Add to the bowl with the zucchini.
  4. Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a 10-inch cast iron or straight-sided ovensafe skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the zucchini and shallots (reserve the bowl), season with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper, and toss to coat in the oil as best you can (the pan will be very full).
  5. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash and shallots are slightly caramelized and beginning to stick to the pan, 12 to 15 minutes.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium, add 1 tablespoon water, and continue to cook 5 minutes more, scraping up the flavorful stuck-on bits as you go.
  7. While the squash cooks, arrange a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F, preferably on convection.
  8. Whisk 2 large eggs in a large bowl.
  9. Prep and add the following to the eggs in the bowl: Coarsely chop fresh basil leaves until you have 1/4 tightly-packed cup. Coarsely chop fresh dill until you have 3 tablespoons. Finely grate Parmesan cheese until you have 1 scant cup, if needed. If using fresh corn, remove the husks and cut the kernels from the cobs (about 1 1/2 cups). Crumble in 3 ounces feta cheese. Season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.
  10. When the squash is ready, add it to the bowl and stir to combine.
  11. Pour the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil into a small bowl, for brushing. Wipe the skillet clean and brush with a thin layer of the oil.
  12. Working quickly to prevent the phyllo from dying out, transfer 2 phyllo sheets to the skillet, overlapping them to completely cover the bottom and sides of the pan, folding any overhang into the pan. (Keep the remaining phyllo covered). Brush lightly with olive oil.
  13. Place a third phyllo sheet in the skillet so that half is hanging over the rim. Repeat with the remaining 3 sheets, arranging them so they completely cover the rim of the skillet.
  14. Spread the zucchini mixture into the skillet in an even layer.
  15. Fold and crimp the overhanging phyllo toward the center, leaving the center 4 inches exposed.
  16. Gently brush any remaining oil over the phyllo.
  17. Bake until the phyllo is golden brown and crispy and the center is slightly puffed and set, 24 to 30 minutes.
  18. Let sit 10 minutes before slicing.
  19. Top with torn fresh basil leaves. Serve with hot sauce, if desired.

Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Nectarine & Blueberry Tart

I especially loved this beautiful tart because in addition to being delicious, it is made with a flaky and buttery press-in crust and a cheesecake-like no-bake filling. Nice shortcuts! I topped it with my favorite summer fruit- white nectarines. The original recipe uses peaches which would also be fabulous.

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. The chilled temperature and brightness from lemon zest made it very refreshing.

Yield: One 9 or 10-inch tart, about 8 to 10 servings

  • 1 stick plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F, preferably on convection.
  2. Beat butter with confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  3. Reduce speed to medium-low; add flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt and beat until just combined and crumbly (do not overmix).
  4. Press evenly into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch square tart pan or a 9- or 10-inch round tart pan, with a removable bottom.
  5. Dock bottom at 1-inch intervals with the tines of a fork. Freeze 15 minutes.
  6. Place on rimmed baking sheet or pizza tin, and bake until golden brown and set, 23 to 33 minutes. Let cool completely. (Crust can be kept at room temperature, wrapped in plastic, for up to 3 days.)
  7. Beat together cream cheese, lemon zest, 1 tablespoon juice, and 1/4 cup granulated sugar on medium-high speed until creamy.
  8. With mixer running, slowly add cream and beat until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. (You should have about 2 cups.)
  9. Spread mixture into crust; refrigerate 1 to 2 hours.
  10. Meanwhile, using a vegetable peeler, peel peaches/nectarines, if desired; cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges. (I left the peels intact.)
  11. Transfer to a bowl and stir in berries and remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  12. Just before serving, spoon macerated fruit over tart and drizzle some of juice from bowl over it. (I used all of the juice!)
  13. Sprinkle with mint, if desired, and serve.

Ina Garten’s Caramelized Onion, Tomato & Goat Cheese Tarts

One of my friends frequently serves these tarts when entertaining with rave reviews. She describes them as “flavor bombs!” 🙂 I loved them so much, I have also served them on more than one occasion myself.

The tarts can be formed into rectangles on sheet pans, or into rounds on pizza tins. Square pieces are perfect appetizer portions. As they are a bit time consuming to prepare, the tarts can be assembled a day prior to baking and serving. To limit the amount of moisture on the crust, it is important to not to incorporate too many tomatoes.

The recipe was adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, via Food Network.com, contributed by Ina Garten. I doubled the recipe, modified the proportions, and made large tarts rather than individual tarts.

Yield: Two 12-inch tarts

  • 1 package (17.3 ounces/2 sheets) puff pastry, defrosted
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (about 3 large onions)
  • 6 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 4 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
  • 6 to 8 ounces garlic-and-herb goat cheese (I used Trader Joe’s herb-goat cheese)
  • 1 pound Campari or small “on-the-vine” tomatoes (about 3 per tart), or 2 large tomatoes, cut into 8 (1/4-inch-thick) slices
  • 6 tablespoons julienned basil leaves, divided
  1. Unfold a sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and roll it lightly to an 12 by 12-inch square. Fold the corners in to form a circle. Repeat with the second pastry sheet. (Alternatively, the pastry can be kept in a rectangle, lightly rolled until smooth.)
  2. Place the pastry circles on 2 pizza pans lined with parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to use. (If using rectangles, place the pastry on 2 rimmed sheet pans lined with parchment paper.)
  3. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F, preferably on convection.
  4. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium to low heat and add the onions and garlic. Saute for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are limp and there is almost no moisture remaining in the skillet.
  5. Add 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, the wine, and thyme and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned. Remove from the heat.
  6. Using a sharp paring knife, score a 1/4-inch-wide border around each pastry.
  7. Prick the pastry inside the score lines with the tines of a fork and sprinkle 4 tablespoons of grated Parmesan on each round, staying inside the scored border.
  8. Place 1/2 of the onion mixture on each tart, again staying within the scored edge.
  9. On each tart, crumble 3 to 4 ounces of goat cheese on top of the onions.
  10. Place tomato slices over each tart. Brush the tomatoes lightly with olive oil and sprinkle each with 2 T basil, salt, and pepper.
  11. Finally, scatter 4 or 5 shards of Parmesan on each tart.
  12. Bake for 25 minutes on convection, or until the pastry is golden brown. The bottom pan may need an extra few minutes in the oven.
  13. After removing from the oven, garnish each tart with the remaining tablespoon of basil and more grated Parmesan.
  14. Serve hot or warm.

Strawberry Brown Butter Bettys

Yes… I have a couple more strawberry recipes to share. This is what happens when your family picks over 12 pounds of fresh berries! 😉

Every year, I make strawberry-vanilla bean jam, strawberry shortcake cookies, fresh strawberry gelato, and pancakes with strawberries (both sourdough & simple but perfect)- at the very least. After adding a new strawberry cocktail and spoon cake to the list this year, we still had plenty of berries to enjoy.

This recipe was adapted from Gourmet, via Smitten Kitchen.com. I doubled the recipe to make 12 desserts, used lemon juice instead of zest, and used potato bread instead of white sandwich bread. I measured the berries prior to slicing them.

I loved the combination of browned butter with berries in these simple tarts. We ate them with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. They would also be wonderful served with a dollop of freshly whipped cream.

Yield: 6 muffin-sized desserts

  • 3/4 stick salted or unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 6 slices potato sandwich bread or white sandwich bread, crusts removed
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest, finely grated OR 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp coarse salt (omit if using salted butter)
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • 2 (generous) cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • vanilla ice cream or softly whipped cream, for serving
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F, preferably on convection, with rack in middle.
  2. Make the Brown Butter: In a small pot, melt butter over medium heat. Once melted, reduce heat to medium-low. The butter will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do. Don’t take your eyes off the pot as while you may be impatient for it to start browning, the period between the time the butter begins to take on color and the point where it burns is less than a minute. Remove from heat.
  3. Lightly butter muffin cups with some of brown butter, then sprinkle with granulated sugar.
  4. Roll bread slices with a rolling pin to flatten.
  5. Brush both sides with additional brown butter, then gently fit into muffin cups.
  6. Stir together brown sugar, zest or juice, salt, and panko.
  7. Add strawberries to the sugar mixture and toss to coat.
  8. Stir in remaining brown butter.
  9. Heap strawberry mixture into the prepared bread cups, pressing gently.
  10. Cover pan with foil, place on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake 15 minutes.
  11. Uncover and bake until strawberries are very tender, about 10 to 15 minutes more. (I baked mine for 12 minutes more.)
  12. Let stand 5 minutes before removing from pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Meyer Lemon Bars with Lemon Shortbread Crust

I love Meyer lemons! I am even dreaming of having a Meyer lemon tree in my house. 🙂

This dessert recipe was adapted from ViewfromtheGreatIsland.com. They are made with an entire Meyer lemon- minus the seeds. The crust incorporates the zest from another entire lemon which made them packed with flavor. It was essential to eat them cold, after being chilled for four hours to overnight, so they must be made in advance.

Yield: about 12 servings (one 9×9-inch pan)

For the Crust:

  • zest from one Meyer lemon
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut in pieces

For the Filling:

  • 1 whole Meyer lemon, about 4-6 ounces
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • pinch of coarse salt

To Prepare:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Grease and line a 9×9 inch pan with parchment paper.

To Make the Crust:

  1. Using a sharp vegetable peeler, peel the zest from one Meyer lemon, taking only the yellow part, with little to none of the white part, which is bitter.
  2. Put the zest and sugar into a food processor and process until the two are well combined and the zest has completely incorporated into the sugar. You will still see tiny specks of zest, but no big pieces. Keep processing until you get to that stage.
  3. Add the flour, and cold butter to the bowl and pulse/process until the mixture is moist, crumbly, and almost comes together into a lump.
  4. Sprinkle the crust mixture into your prepared baking pan and pat down firmly and evenly. You should have a layer of even thickenss.
  5. Bake for about 17 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the filling.

To Make the Filling:

  1. Thinly slice the second Meyer lemon and remove any seeds. Tip: do this over a bowl so you don’t lose any juice.
  2. Put the lemon and accumulated juice into a high speed blender like Vitamix or a food processor.
  3. Add the sugar to the lemon and puree until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the container, if necessary, to get a smooth puree.
  4. Add the eggs, cornstarch, and salt, and purée briefly until well combined.
  5. Pour the filling mixture through a fine mesh strainer to remove any lumps or bubbles.
  6. Pour the strained filling onto the hot crust immediately after it comes out of the oven.
  7. Put the lemon bars back into the oven and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until firm and just starting to take on some golden color. Don’t over bake.
  8. Let the bars cool completely on a rack, then put them in the refrigerator to chill for 4 hours or up to overnight.
  9. When cold, remove the bars using the parchment paper “handles,” and slice into squares.
  10. Dust with powdered sugar just before serving.

Pear and Almond Tart

I served this elegant tart on Thanksgiving Eve this year. It was very well received! The classic combination of pears and almonds was absolutely delicious.

This recipe was adapted from Dolester Miles’ recipe in Frank Stitt’s Southern Table: Recipes and Traditions from Highlands Bar and Grill, via The Washington Post. The restaurant is located in Birmingham, Alabama. I used poaching liquid instead of rum in the filling and reduced the baking time. Wonderful!

Yield: 8 servings

For the Crust:

  • 1 cup plus 3 T flour, plus more for the work surface
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

For the Pears:

  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 cups water
  • half a vanilla bean, split
  • one 3-inch cinnamon stick
  • 5 (large) to 6 almost-ripe, firm pears, such as Bartlett, Anjou or Bosc, peeled, halved lengthwise and cored

For the Filling:

  • 8 T (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup finely ground blanched almonds
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 3 T Calvados, dark rum, or poaching liquid
  • 1 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1/4 cup blanched/slivered or sliced almonds, toasted, for garnish

To Make the Crust:

  1. Use cooking oil spray to grease a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.
  2. Place the flour in a food processor.
  3. Sprinkle the salt and cubes of butter into the flour. Pulse until the butter is pea-sized.
  4. Pour the egg over the mixture; pulse just until the dough begins to come together.
  5. Turn the dough out onto the counter, and then gather it into a disk.
  6. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, or up to 1 day.
  7. Lightly flour a work surface. Unwrap and roll the dough out into a 12-inch round. (I roll the dough out between 2 sheets of plastic wrap.)
  8. Transfer it to the tart pan, using your fingertips to line the pan with the dough. Trim the edges even with the rim of the pan.
  9. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to bake.

To Poach the Pears:

  1. Combine the sugar, water, vanilla bean and cinnamon stick in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes.
  2. Add the pears; once the liquid begins to bubble at the edges, cook the pears for 15 to 20 minutes, until they are tender and the tip of a paring knife slips into them easily. Let them cool in their liquid. Discard the cinnamon stick and vanilla bean.

To Make the Filling and Finish the Tart:

  1. When ready to assemble, make the filling: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Toast the almonds in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat for several minutes, until fragrant and lightly browned, shaking the pan occasionally to avoid scorching. Cool completely before using for the topping.
  3. Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or handheld electric mixer; beat on medium speed for several minutes, until light and fluffy.
  4. Reduce the speed to low; add the egg, ground almonds, flour, Calvados, rum, or poaching liquid and the almond extract. Beat for about 2 minutes, until smooth.
  5. Remove the tart shell from the refrigerator. Unwrap and pour in the filling, spreading it evenly.
  6. Remove the pears from the poaching liquid, placing them in a colander set over a bowl. Reserve 1 cup of the poaching liquid for this recipe; reserve and refrigerate the rest for poaching more fruit later.
  7. Place the pears cut sides down on the tart filling, side by side with the narrow ends facing in, until the entire surface of the tart is covered with pears. Cover the edge of the tart to prevent over-browning and bake (middle rack) for about 28 to 30 minutes, until golden brown.
  8. Meanwhile, cook the reserved cup of poaching liquid in a small saucepan over high heat until it has reduced to a glaze – about 2 to 3 tablespoons total. Remove from the heat.
  9. Once the tart comes out of the oven, brush it with the glaze, then scatter the toasted almonds evenly over the top. Serve warm, or at room temperature.

Note: The dough needs to be refrigerated for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day. The pears can be stored in their cooking liquid in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. The poaching liquid can be reused.

Corn, Bacon & Cheddar Pie

I do have a few more desserts to share, but I am interrupting those posts to share this amazing savory pie. It was ridiculously good. Worth every calorie in every indulgent bite. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark.  I incorporated whole wheat pastry flour in the cornmeal crust (delicious) and adapted the method.

I made it with fresh sweet corn but I can imagine it would also be wonderful with frozen corn. We ate it with roasted potatoes and a giant green salad- a very satisfying meal. Fluffy and fabulous!

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

For the Crust:

  • 1/2 cup/65 grams all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1/2 cup/65 grams whole wheat pastry flour (can substitute all-purpose)
  • 1/4 cup/40 grams cornmeal or polenta/grits
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup/115 grams cold unsalted butter (1 stick), cubed
  • 3 to 6 tablespoons ice water

For the Filling:

  • 1/2 large or 1 small red onion
  • 1 T fresh lime juice, plus more to taste (from 1/2 lime)
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt, plus more as needed
  • pinch of granulated sugar
  • 4 ounces bacon (4 slices), diced
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels (from 2 ears if fresh)
  • 2 T chopped pickled jalapeño, plus more slices for topping (I used Trader Joe’s Fire Roasted Green Chilies)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup coarsely shredded sharp Cheddar (3 ounces)
  • 3 T chopped parsley

To Prepare the Crust:

  1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, or in a large bowl, pulse or mix together flour(s), cornmeal and salt until combined.
  2. Add butter, and either pulse or use your finger to smoosh it in until butter is the size of lima beans.
  3. Add ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse or mix just until dough comes together. There should still be large flecks of butter left in dough.
  4. Shape dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. (At this point, I placed the disk in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes.)
  5. Between 2 layers of plastic wrap, or on a lightly floured surface, roll out dough into a 12-inch circle.
  6. Transfer dough to a 9-inch deep pie plate; trim and crimp edges. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before baking. (Dough can be made up to 5 days ahead.)(I made the dough the night before.)

To Make the Filling and Finish the Pie:

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Place the pie dish on a rimmed baking sheet. Prick the bottom of the pie crust with a fork. Line with foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights, dried beans or rice. Bake for 15 minutes.
  3. Remove foil or paper and pie weights or beans. Bake until pale golden and dry to the touch, about 4 to 7 minutes more.
  4. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees, preferably on convection.
  5. While crust is chilling and baking, prepare the filling: Cut red onion in half across the equator (not root to stem), then from the center, cut out two very thin, round slices. Separate onion slices into rings and put them in a bowl with lime juice and a pinch each of salt and sugar. Set aside while you assemble the rest of the tart. (I used half-moons because I used 1/2 of a red onion.)
  6. Coarsely chop remaining onion and set aside. (I used half-moons in the filling as well.)
  7. Scatter diced bacon in a cold 12-inch skillet. (I used a cast iron skillet.) Turn heat to medium, and cook until the bacon is golden and the fat has rendered, 8 to 14 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate. Leave fat in the skillet.
  8. Stir chopped onion into pan with bacon fat and place over medium heat. Sauté until golden-edged and translucent, about 6 minutes.
  9. Stir in corn, 1/2 teaspoon salt and chopped pickled jalapeño. Cook until corn is tender, 2 to 5 minutes.
  10. Remove from heat and scoop 1/2 cup corn mixture into a blender. (I used a Vitamix.)
  11. Add cream, sour cream and eggs. Blend until you get a purée.
  12. Using a spatula, scrape corn purée back in pan with whole corn kernels.
  13. Stir in 1/2 cup Cheddar, the parsley and the cooked bacon.
  14. Scrape mixture into the baked pie shell.
  15. Top filling mixture with pickled red onion slices and jalapeño slices. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Cheddar.
  16. Cover the edge of the pie crust to prevent over-browning.
  17. Bake until puffed, golden and just set, 35 to 45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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