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Kale, Butternut Squash and Bacon Pie

September 25, 2009
tags: ,

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Oh man, was this good.  Just looking at the pictures puts me back in a food coma.  Crunchy bacon, flaky slightly-sweet pastry, garlicky crunchy kale, browned squash… If you forgive the bad artificial lighting, you’ll see what I mean.

One of the biggest difficulties with food blogging is taking pictures using natural light.  I often rush home from work so I can take pictures of at least some of my ingredients with the remaining natural light (usually on my porch or on the living room window sill).  Until I have a tripod, the food pictures will be sub-par, as using a flash is a big no-no… What on earth will I do when day light savings time hits?  Cry, I suppose.  Oh, the trials and tribulations of food blogging.

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Yesterday was Week #2 of the Vermont Ave farmers market and it was slightly less eventful than last week (thankfully), meaning there was no security checkpoint and I could meander at my leisure.  I did some recipe researching before I went this time, and I found a recipe that, with a couple of substitutions, I could make without having to go to the grocery store.  Oh course, said recipe also meant I had to lug a butternut squash and two huge bunches of kale onto the metro to go home.  I resented my produce (It is indeed possible to resent an inanimate object.  Although there were some caterpillars on the kale, so maybe it wasn’t inanimate?  Who knows.)  at the time, it was so worth it when I pulled that crispy, steaming pie out of the oven. 

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The recipe that I found originally involved pancetta rather than bacon, but as our pancetta defrosted we discovered it had gone bad.  I didn’t know that things could spoil in the freezer, which is making me rethink my entire food freezing strategy.  Luckily Nate eats bacon on a fairly regular basis, so we had bacon in the fridge that we were able to substitute in.  I also had a pie crust left over from last weekend’s galette extravaganza to use instead of phyllo dough.  It was like we were destined to make this pie.  (I reserve the right to be melodramatic when it comes to really good food.  Sometimes things really are meant to be.)

Side note: Did you know that squash “sweats” when you cut it?  I cut the squash in half and let it sit while I took pictures of the other half and I came back and it looked like this:

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It was also, unfortunately, quite slimy.

The pie came together pretty quickly with teamwork in the kitchen.  The squash was really easy to prep, once I figured out that the quickest way to peel it was with a potato peeler.  Definitely one of my top 10 kitchen gadgets, along with my pizza slicer and pastry cutter.  The kale wasn’t too bad either, once I got off all the caterpillars.  No additional protein needed (or fuzz, for that matter), thank you very much.

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Kale, Butternut Squash and Bacon Pie

(Adapted from Gourmet, October 2004)

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 (1-pound) piece butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (3 1/2 cups)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 (1/8-inch-thick) slices bacon (3 1/2 ounces), finely chopped (we did more of a rough chop and there were large pieces of bacon in the pie)
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage
  • 1 1/2 pounds kale, stems and center ribs discarded and leaves coarsely chopped (16 cups)
  • pie crust for a 9″ pie plate
  • 1 ounces finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/2 cup)

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 425°F.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté squash with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, stirring frequently, until browned and just beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and spread in 1 layer to cool.

Add remaining tablespoon oil to skillet and reduce heat to moderate, then cook onion, pancetta, garlic, sage, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, stirring frequently, until onion is softened, about 7 minutes. Stir in kale and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until kale is just tender, about 6 minutes. (Skillet will be full, but volume will reduce as vegetables steam.) Cool, uncovered, to room temperature.

Place pie crust in a 9″ spring form pan.  Press the edges up against the sides of the pan.  Spread half of kale mixture in pie shell. Gently stir together squash and cheese in a bowl and spread evenly over kale. Top with remaining kale.  Fold pie crust along the edges over the tope of the kale and bake until deep golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool pie in pan on a rack 5 minutes. Remove side of pan and transfer to a platter. Cut into wedges (leave bottom of pan under pie).

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