One of my less likely friendships is one I’m especially glad to have. It’s funny how things work out. My friend, Kristian Blaich, was originally my college history professor. It’s quite possible that had I not taken his engaging classes, I might never have gone abroad, studied German, met my husband. . .well, you get the idea. He was a great teacher and mentor and later advised my master’s thesis. Considering how much I probably tortured him with late drafts, I’m surprised he even still talks to me.
We stayed in touch over the years, and it gradually came out that Kristian is a total foodie. He’s big into whole, fresh foods and healthy living. Fortunately for us, he was kind enough to contribute a wonderful vegetarian recipe:
Recently, in honor of St. Nicholas Day, my five-year-old son announced that he wanted to have a party. Just a family party. But still: pressure to cook something yummy. So I started thinking about recipes that were not too time-consuming, yet still festive. I came up with a vegetable pie. It’s healthy, looks and tastes delicious, and it would impress the kids. We followed this up with some salad greens and some of my mother’s Christmas Stollen for dessert. The kids loved it. So did the adults. This recipe is adapted from NYTimes health food writer Martha Rose Schulman, Mediterranean Harvest: Vegetarian Recipes from the World’s Healthiest Cuisine (Rodale).
-1 recipe whole-wheat yeasted olive oil pastry
-2 T olive oil
-1 shallot, minced
-3/4 lb. mushrooms, sliced
-1 1/2 lbs. greens, whatever you have on hand (I used ½ collard, ½ chard)
-salt & black pepper
-1 t fresh thyme, minced
-4 garlic cloves, minced
-3 large eggs
-1/3 c. skim milk
-1/3 c. grated, densely packed baby swiss cheese
-1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Divide the dough into roughly 2/3 and 1/3, and roll out the larger portion and put in a 9-inch spring-form pan. Roll out the other portion and refrigerate both to prevent the dough from tasting too bready.
2. Bring water to boil in a large pot. Salt liberally and boil the greens. (I boiled the collards for about four minutes, and the chard about one minute.) Place in a bowl of ice water, then remove and squeeze out the water. Chop coarsely.
3. In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium. Saute the shallot until it begins to soften, about three minutes. Add the mushrooms, stirring frequently, cooking for about eight minutes. Add the salt, pepper, thyme and garlic and cook until it becomes fragrant, about one minute. Add the greens, cooking for another minute. Taste and adjust seasonings. Remove from heat.
4. In a bowl, beat the eggs and milk. Stir in both cheeses. Combine with the mushroom-greens mixture, then scrape into the spring-form pan. Top with the other rolled-out dough, cutting a few breathing holes.
5. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until pastry is browned nicely.