Pie has long been one of my favorite dishes. I remember my grandmother's delicious onion-tomato pies, which she even made for her and her husband's 50th anniversary. And then there is my mom's spinach-and-gravy pies, which my brother often wishes for his birthday. So pie in my life has a special connotation. The other day I got a bunch of fresh spinach and decided to try my hand at spinach pie, but this time I chose to make it with a vegan cheese sauce.
For pie, you need a pie crust. The following recipe is a basic recipe for savory whole-wheat (graham) pie crust. We have just got our own mill and started making our own freshly-ground whole-wheat flour, so I figured our flour would be perfect for a crust. Let me tell you, fresh flour cannot be compared in flavor to the stale store-bought counterpart. But I know most of you do not have a mill, so when you make this recipe, I would recommend you buy the type of whole-wheat flour called graham. The bran in graham flour is coarser than in ordinary whole-wheat flour, thus producing a tenderer, flakier result. However, if you cannot get graham flour, the finely ground whole-wheat flour also works very well. If you wish a less robust crust, you may use partially white flour, but I would recommend using all whole wheat because the more bran (from the whole wheat) there is, the more the gluten is prevented from making the crust tough. As I said before, the bran makes the crust flaky and tender.
This crust is actually easy to make. Because the bran helps to make it tender, it is not so important to keep all the ingredients cold. Of course, using cold ingredients will aid in making the crust tender, but you still get a good crust with room-temperature ingredients. So all you need to do is mix up your flour, salt, oil, and water and you are ready to go! Do not mix too much, as that will develop the gluten in the flour, but again, do not worry a lot, as there is not too much gluten in whole wheat flour. When the dough is ready, just roll it out and place it in your dish. Or, if you want to save cleaning like me, just use your hands to squish it out in the dish. Now, depending on your filling, you might want to prebake the crust a bit before you add your filling and finish baking it, or you might want to add the filling after the crust is baked, or even before. You get the crispest crust by finishing baking it before you add the filling, as the crust can dry out without getting soggy from the filling, but again, some fillings must be baked, so the baking method depends on your choice of filling.
Let me assure you, this is a no-worries crust. So take it easy and try your hands at something healthier than puff pastry. And the nutty whole-wheat flavor complements most savory fillings well. Enjoy!
What is your favorite dish to accompany pie? I like to serve pie with vegan potato salad.
Oil-Based Savory Graham Crust
Yields: One 14 x 8 in. pie crust (no grid or cover)
2 1/2 to 3 c. graham or whole wheat flour (the coarser the flour, the more you need)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. oil
1/2 c. water
1. Mix flour and salt. Add oil and water, and mix only till combined.
2. Roll out and place in 14 x 8 in. oven-safe dish.
3. Bake at 400 degrees F for 30 to 45 min. Add the filling before, during, or after baking the crust, depending on the type of filling.
4. Serve warm or cold, depending on the type of filling. Good with potato or pasta salad.
Scripture of the Day
1 John 2:3
"And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments."
Labels: Main Dishes, savory pies