Food, Guest Authors

A Summer Potpie

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My garden is planted and the harvest is beginning. The pea pods are hanging from their vines and I am almost ready to pick the first tomato. And, then there are the zucchini. Each year l promise myself that I will let only one plant flourish and then I have trouble pulling out those healthy seedlings. What if they don’t survive, and I have no zucchini? So once again, I am faced with my zucchini bounty. I can’t leave them at the neighbor’s doorstep again—they know where they came from. But, this year I am ready. We are going to feast, and often, on Zucchini Pot Pie with a Cheddar Wafer Crust. The recipe calls for young zucchini, which have the least seed and water content. Picking the young zucchini helps keep the crop in check and uses them when they are at their best.

It is really a myth that potpies are only for winter. Deviled Crab Pot Pie; Roasted Tomato, Potato, and Onion Potpie with a Parmesan Crust; Summer Tomato, Cheese, and Black Olive Potpie, are all made for summer. The summer vegetable potpies are delicious at room temperature, making them perfect for picnics, barbecues, and potlucks. Below is my zucchini recipe for coping with the annual (now welcome) avalanche.

Zucchini Pot Pie with a Cheddar Wafer Crust

Makes 8 servings
Cooking the filling: 21 minutes
Pot pie baking: 350 degrees F. for about 45 minutes

Filling
2 pounds small, young zucchini (about 10)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (1 medium-large) finely chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Topping
1 cup (4 ounces) grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Make the filling. Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Have ready a baking dish with a 1 1/2-quart capacity.

Use a clean vegetable brush to scrub the zucchini and rid the peel of any sand. Trim off the ends and cut each zucchini lengthwise into strips about 1/4 inch thick (about 6 strips for each zucchini). Hold a few strips together and cut them into thin slices, 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Set aside. This is a quick way to chop the zucchini into small pieces.

In a large frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium-high heat, 1 minute. Add the onion and garlic and cook just until the onions soften for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Transfer the onion mixture to a large bowl. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in the frying pan over medium heat. Add the zucchini and cook, stirring often, until most of the moisture evaporates and the zucchini soften, about 15 minutes. Transfer the zucchini to the large bowl. Add the salt and pepper and taste for seasoning. Then stir in the eggs to blend them into the mixture. Transfer the mixture to the baking dish.

Make the topping. In a large bowl and using an electric mixer on low speed, beat the cheese and butter until smoothly blended. You will see small pieces of cheese. Beat in the flour, salt, garlic powder, mustard powder and Worcestershire until a smooth dough forms that holds together. Use your hands to roll level tablespoon sized pieces of dough into balls about 1 1/4 inches in size. Flatten them into round wafers. You will have twenty-four wafers. Place a circle of overlapping wafers on the zucchini filling around the inside edge of the baking dish. Place another circle inside the outer circle and one wafer in the center. The wafers will cover the filling. If there are a few tiny uncovered spaces, these will fill in when the pot pie bakes.

Bake the pot pie. Bake until the topping is lightly browned and feels firm if lightly touched, about 45 minutes. Use a large spoon to cut down through the crust and scoop out servings of crust and zucchini filling.

Elinor Klivans is the author of numerous cookbooks includng Potpies, Big Fat Cookies and Cupcakes!. She tends her garden and creates recipes from her home in Camden, Maine.

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