Today I’d like to introduce you to one of my favourite summer recipes of all time (yes, I realise it’s not really summer in Spain or Australia at present, but can’t a girl dream?) – tomato parmesan pie. I’m not sure how this recipe turned up as a family staple, but tangled up in the delicious combination of thyme, tomato, and parmesan are memories of carefree summer days spent frolicking on the farm and harvesting tomatoes from mum’s alarmingly bounteous vegetable garden. Enjoy, my friends, and when you do savour the first delicious, crumbly mouthful of this pie, know that it is the taste of my childhood, and that it’s frankly quite disturbing that you’re chowing down on it.
And now, without further ado, the recipe:
- 2 cups plain flour
- 125 grams unsalted butter, cubed
- 100 grams grated parmesan
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- olive oil
- 1/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
- 25 grams grated parmesan, extra
- the leaves from 6 sprigs of thyme
- 8-10 roma or egg tomatoes, thinly sliced
- Process the flour, butter, and parmesan until it begins to form crumbs.
- Add the egg, and process until just combined.
- Knead the pastry, then chill it in the fridge for 15 minutes.
- Remove the pastry from the fridge, and roll it into a disk about 3mm thick. Place this on a tray, and prick the surface with a fork, leaving a 6cm border. Brush the pastry with olive oil, and chill for another 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 220C.
- Combine breadcrumbs, extra parmesan, thyme, and some pepper in a bowl. Sprinkle half this mixture over the fork-pricked part of the pastry.
- Arrange the tomatoes in concentric circles of overlapping slices (or however you like, really), leaving the 6cm border bare. Be generous with the tomato, especially if they’re particularly good ones! If you can find orange and/or yellow tomatoes as well, the end result is quite lovely.
- Sprinkle the remainder of the breadcrumb, parmesan, thyme, and pepper mix over the tomatoes.
- Fold in the pastry border, and brush with more olive oil.
- Bake at 220C for about 10 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 200C and continue baking for another 15-20 minutes, or until the pastry on the bottom looks cooked through. You might want place another tray above it if it begins to brown too much.
- Enjoy hot or room temperature, with a big green salad and a glass of white wine (so as to shatter entirely the illusion of childhood).
prior to folding in the sides…
folded up and ready for the oven
Note: I realise this is really more of a tart than a pie, but the fact remains that we’ve always referred to it as “tomato parmesan pie” in my family, and never, ever, as “country parmesan and tomato tart”.
Turns out it’s hard to find capsicums smaller than your face in Madrid, so Jess and I, in our efforts to cook for two, were left with half of one of these behemoths after tossing up a sweet stir-fry the other day. Desperate to avoid another pasta- or noodle-centric meal, we landed upon stuffed peppers as a solution. I’ve only ever tried making these once before, with reasonable success, following an Ottolenghi recipe to the letter. However, stranded in a foreign city without the comfort of our most treasured recipe books, we were forced (in a good way!) to improvise. And it was freaking delicious (apologies about the not great picture, but I was somewhat cynically expecting a disaster, and therefore wasn’t reaaaally that invested in the photographies), especially with a side of broccoli drenched in olive oil, garlic, chili, and lemon zest.
Although I think part of the reason this turned out so well was due to improvisation, here’s a vague idea of what ingredients we used, and what we did with them:
- 1 or 2 large capsicums (apparently the bigger the better – I prefer red, yellow, or orange for colour)
- 1 cup wild or brown rice (or some fancy blend thereof)
- 1 bay leaf
- olive oil
- 1 shallot (or small red onion), diced
- 1-2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
- 1 small zucchini, diced
- a handful of button mushrooms, diced
- a handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 cup frozen peas (or corn, or both!)
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp corainder seeds
- 1 tsp smoked paprika (or hot, or whatever)
- 1 tsp turmeric
- a few green olives, chopped
- 50 g manchego/cheddar/feta (whatever be your jam), cubed
- a small bunch of coriander, chopped
ways of doing things
- Cook the rice (wild or brown rice can take a whiiiile, generally 30-45 minutes) with the bay leaf.
- In the meantime, cut the capsicum(s) in half lengthwise, and scoop out the viscera. Or, if you’re feeling particularly quaint, just cut off the tops so they have little lids.
- Place these on a foil-lined tray. You might want to pop a little olive oil on there to avoid stickage. While you’re at it, preheat the oven to 180C.
- Chop, dice, slice, mince, measure, or otherwise prepare your other ingredients.
- Heat a medium saucepan or frypan (without oil!), and heat the cumin and coriander seeds until lightly toasted. Then mortar and pestle the shit outta them (or do some sort of energetic dance on top of them – in a bag though. Hygiene, guys).
- Heat olive oil in the medium saucepan/frypan. Add the shallot and fry until soft, then add the garlic. After a couple minutes of gentle frying, and the zucchini, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, peas, and spices. Stir and fry until everything is deliciously coated in spice, the tomatoes are collapsing, and the mushrooms are smelling mushroomy. Remove from heat and stir through the cooked and drained rice (which you didn’t forget about, but were monitoring the whole time, and which you also remembered to remove the bay leaf from) the olives, cheese, and coriander.
- Stuff your capsicum halves with the delicious, aromatic filling. Your oven should now well and truly be up to temperature, so if you can resist eating everything then and there, pop the (ideally almost overflowing) capsicums in the oven and let them roast for about 20 minutes, or until the rice on top is turning brown and crispy.
- Serve hot from the oven with a side of some form of greens.
- Nom the crap out the whole shebang.