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The Food Party!

By Laura Stec

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About this blog: I've been attracted to food for good and bad reasons for many years. From eating disorder to east coast culinary school, food has been my passion, profession & nemesis. I've been a sugar addict, a 17-year vegetarian, a food and en...  (More)

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For the Love of Pie

Uploaded: Sep 11, 2014

Last weekend, Celia, Connor and I food partied! it out at a super fun, harvest moon feast- Pie Ranch's annual seed to table dinner. Pie Ranch, a working Pescadero farm, is also a nonprofit cultivating a healthy and just food system. A large part of their mission is to host schools for food education programs, and teach new farmers to farm. They also teach new farmers how to auctioneer I guess. Wow - that guy was good!

It's called Pie Ranch because the land is in the shape of a pie, and also because they make pies (strawberry in spring and winter squash in fall) with visiting schools as part of the lessons in sustainable agriculture. I encourage you to learn more about it and visit the farm on an upcoming workday, which is followed by a live band barn dance. The next one is September 20th. We do-si-do'ed at the fundraiser. I haven't laughed so hard for so long in a long time.

Pies come in all shapes and sizes, and lately I've been making a savory one that everyone seems to enjoy. It's perfect for harvest season, when the dry farmed tomatoes are in and the eggplants are still growing. Plus it's easy and fun to prepare. Make it early in the day and just pop it in the oven when you are ready to eat. I forget where the recipe originally came from, and it has been made better. One easy option is to use thinly sliced zucchini instead of eggplant, or mix the two together. Great way to put it to use!!!

Grilled Eggplant Tomato Pie
Serves 3 - 4

1 large eggplant (1 ½ pounds), sliced ¼ inch thick
3-4 large dry-farmed tomatoes, sliced crosswise ¼ inch thick
¼ cup sliced green olives
1-2 tablespoons Calabrian chilies,* seeded and sliced thin
¼ cup basil, sliced thin
2 cloves of garlic, minced
A couple tablespoons green onions, sliced thin
1 ? 1.5 cups Italian Fontina cheese,* grated
olive oil and salt

Brush eggplant and tomato slices with olive oil; sprinkle with salt. Grill eggplant over moderate high heat, turning once, until softened and lightly charred, about 6-8 minutes. Grill tomatoes, turning once, until lightly charred but still intact 3 minutes or so.

In a small bowl, combine the olives, chilies, basil, garlic and green onion. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with oil. In the center arrange half of the eggplant in a square. Top with half the tomatoes, olive mix, and cheese. Repeat layers, ending with the cheese.

Bake for 15 minutes, until bubbly and golden.

? Dry farmed tomatoes are full flavored and naturally less moist, so good to grill. Substitute plum tomatoes.
? Calabrian chilis are little red beauties, sold in jars. Look for them near the sundried tomato or olive section in the store.
? You can buy Italian or Dutch Fontina, a nice alternative to the overused mozzarella. Dutch Fontina is easier to find, but the Italian flavor is more intense.

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Posted by NW Resident, a resident of North Whisman,
on Sep 11, 2014 at 4:01 pm

I think you mean Danish Fontina, regarding the type that is easier to find in grocery stores. It usually has a red wax rind on the outside.

Italian Fontina usually has a tan or brown rind from the natural aging process. I like to get mine at Molinari Deli in San Francisco, but it can probably be found on the Peninsula too.

Those Calabrian peppers are delicious and a great way to spice up Italian dishes. Calabria forms the "toe" of the Italian peninsula, not far from Sicily!

Finally, I have never been to Pie Ranch but will have to check it out since Pescadero is one of my favorite places on the coast.

Posted by Laura Stec, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Sep 12, 2014 at 7:13 am

Laura Stec is a registered user.

NW Resident - thanks for coming to the Food Party! again and thank you for the clarification.Are you Italian by chance? Calabrian peppers are strangers to many.

Posted by NW Resident, a resident of North Whisman,
on Sep 12, 2014 at 9:49 am

Sicilian on my father's side, actually. The last time I had Calabrian peppers was at Casa Nostra restaurant on Hwy 9 in Ben Lomond (Santa Cruz Mountains). A nice little restaurant set in the redwoods with genuine Italian chefs who are very friendly!

Posted by Lulu, a resident of another community,
on Sep 14, 2014 at 7:48 pm

Hi Laura - I just wanted to tell you that I made this recipe today and it was delicious! I used Italian Fontina. And because I didn't have Calabrian peppers, I used red pepper flakes, which worked out just fine. Thank you for posting this!

Posted by Laura Stec, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Sep 15, 2014 at 1:10 pm

Laura Stec is a registered user.

Lulu is a Food Partier! Great to have you! This is a terrific recipe isn't it? Perfect for any gathering because of the make ahead ability. Kind of like a gluten free - all veggie pizza. YUM!

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