Pie For Dinner

I’m Stressed!  I’m experiencing two things that are not compatible with each other.  One is writing this blog where I want to include baked goods, and more importantly reading other blogs where there is all kinds of wonderful baking going on; and two is trying to follow a low carbohydrate diet plan.  Baked goods, generally speaking, have no place on a strict low carb diet.  I need to bake something to bring my stress level down.  I want to stir something or roll out something like pie dough or cookie dough.  Yeah, that would help out a lot!  I don’t need to eat it, just make it.  What to do?

Well after giving this situation a lot of thought,  I decided to make a pie.  Not a dessert pie, no sireee; a dinner pie.  My analysis of the standard pie crust shows that 1/8th of a 9-inch pie contains 13 Gms. carbohydrate, none of which comes from sugar.  This is well under the 20 Gms. I’m limiting myself to per day.  So then I needed to figure out what the filling should be.  I decided on cheeses and fresh tomatoes flavored up with pesto.  With the creative juices flowing, and the stress level coming down, I set to work mixing up the pie dough. Cutting in that shortening and rolling out that dough takes muscle, but I was up for it!

Here then,  ladies and gentlemen, I present to you for the first time, my newest creation:  Fresh Tomato and Ricotta Cheese Pie

INGREDIENTS:

Makes 8 servings

  • pie dough for a single crust 9-inch pie, either home made or store-bought
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 large tomatoes, and 4-5 grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup packed basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

1.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Fit pie dough into a 9-inch pie pan.  Do not prick.  Line with heavy-duty foil.

2.  Bake at 450 degrees for 5 minutes.  Remove foil and continue baking for 8 more minutes.  Remove from oven.  Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees.

3.   In a medium bowl mix together the ricotta cheese, Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses, salt and pepper to taste, and egg.

4.  Spread the cheese mixture in the partially cooked pie crust.

5.  Slice each large tomato into wedges, small tomatoes in half.  Remove as many seeds as possible.   Arrange attractively  on top of cheese layer.  Heirloom tomatoes produce vibrant colors ranging from pale yellow, pale pink,   purplish red,  even striped.  No two taste alike.  A tomato is a beautiful thing!  Mixing 2-3 varieties together makes a pretty presentation.

6.  In a food processor, process basil, garlic and olive oil until coarsely chopped.  Drizzle over the tomatoes.  I used my own previously made basil pesto, or you could use commercially prepared pesto here.

7.  Bake at 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  The filling will firm up a little more as it cools, so allow to cool for a few minutes before cutting.

8.  The finished product!  I served this pie with chicken salad on a bed of greens and a cucumber salad with a vinaigrette dressing.  I would also serve this dish as an entree for brunch along with some bacon or ham.  Oh, Yum!  The best part of all folks,  I didn’t just make it —-I got to eat it, too.  I am no longer stressed!

SOURCE:   a Carolyn Original

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Homemade Pesto

When we say pesto most of us think of basil as the primary ingredient.  But pesto(s) can be made from a variety of herbs, vegetables and condiments; or combinations there of.  What is needed is a food processor–and chop, chop–you can be enjoying the flavors of summer all year long.  I include the making of pesto in my series on kitchen basics, because it is so easy, and so useful in a great number of ways.

Depending on what flavor you have on hand you can do any of the following with it:  spread it on grilled corn, toss with grilled veggies for extra flavor, spoon over a spreadable cheese and serve with crackers for an appetizer, use in place of sauce on pizza, stir some into eggs for a seasoned omelet, add a spoonful to soup for an extra flavor hit.   See how versatile it is?  I’m sure you can think of other uses, too.

It is so easy to make that I am giving the general directions first, followed by the ingredients list for four (4) different kinds.  Each one makes  about 2 cups of pesto.  I like to divide mine up into 1/2 – 1 cup amounts and store in the freezer, removing a small container of it as needed.  The flavor stays as fresh as the day you made it.

GENERAL DIRECTIONS

Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed.  Period!  Did I say Easy?   Divide up into small jars or plastic  containers, and use creatively.

BASIL

1.  BASIL PESTO

  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2/3 cup good quality olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (pignoli)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 Tablespoons cold water
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt.

CILANTRO

2.  CILANTRO PESTO

  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

ROSEMARY

3.  OLIVE PESTO

  • 1  7 0z. jar pitted kalamata olives, drained
  • 1  7 oz. jar pimiento-stuffed Spanish olives, drained
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  •  3-4 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

OREGANO

4.  MIXED HERBS PESTO

  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh oregano leaves, or  1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, or 1  teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (pignoli)
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

SOURCE:   adapted from  Foods, Quick and Easy.