|Posted on October 25, 2013 at 1:00 AM|
With the change of season comes the task of pulling out old, spent plants in preparation for seeding of the fall crop. Members of our garden community have been very busy working on this transition, and as of this writing (late October), many plots have been stripped completely bare. I find myself firmly in the camp of those die-hard gardeners who continue to hang on to one or two of their tomato vines and pepper plants, even up to the first frost, in hopes of eeking out the last of their precious fruit. And lately, I've been stricken with the insatiable urge to can everything in sight. In the midst of all the transitions taking place, I put out a simple request to my fellow gardeners: instead of tossing out any of those last minute green tomatoes that are still attached to the vine when you pull it out, please pass them to me. At first I received nothing, but as vines started getting yanked out, the green fruit started showing up, and I've become fairly creative at puting green tomatoes to use. This is a story about tomatoes, pies, and creative possibilities, a tale about how a friend taught me to put green tomatoes front and center in a wonderful pie.
Our story begins one beautiful Saturday morning, a day in which I showed up in the garden to find a large bag of lovely green tomatoes sitting on one of the chairs that sit next to my plot, an apparent gift from someone who had just removed their vines. Later in the day, after spending the entire morning and much of the afternoon in my garden plot, I began to power down and put away the tools I'd been using. I decided to join my husband who had managed to find a shady spot to sit in. Our friend Dennis soon came over to visit with us, and spotted the bag of beautiful baseball sized tomatoes which prompted him to describe a yummy green tomato pie that his wife makes for him. It was beyond lunchtime, so it didn't take long for tummies to start rumbling. As we were getting ready to head out and grab a bite, I asked Dennis if he would like to have some of the tomatoes so his wife could make him some of that lovely pie. His reply was an emphatic "Sure!", so I put a bunch of the tomatoes in a second bag and handed them over to him. He thanked me, and we left the garden.
Fast forward one week, and we're back in the garden. Noel, Dennis’ wife, stops on over, smiling and holding a Tupperware pie container. She carefully opens the container and there to my surprise is an exquisite green tomato pie along with a copy of the recipe. That day in the garden was a long one. By the time the hubby and I got home, we were both hot, tired, and very hungry. I was so grateful to have that pie which I quickly cut into good size slices that headed straight for the microwave. While things were heating up I made a quick side salad and with the ding of the microwave oven we were ready to eat. To be honest I had no idea what to expect as I had never eaten green tomato pie before. But you know that feeling you get of something so familiar when you bite into it even though you’ve never eaten it before? That feeling of knowing that one bite is simply not enough, as you quickly take a second bite and smile. Well, that pie made me smile in just that way. It made me smile because it was completely unexpected, simply delicious, and showed up at a time of need. All I could say was "yum", and all I could think was "thanks Noel". Yes, we had pie for lunch, and then again for dinner. That pie didn't last long at all; in fact, it was completely gone the same day she gave it to us!
Well, I just recently received more green tomatoes, and this time, not only am I making some delicious salsa, I had enough fruit to also make a couple of Noel’s pies. Having just pulled them out of the oven, I thought that you, dear reader, might enjoy receiving this recipe as well. Don't worry, I asked Noel if it would be ok if I shared this fabulous recipe with others, and she replied “Why yes, of course, it’s very easy!”
In the name of full disclosure, I must tell you right off the bat that I am a bit of a pie crust snob. Normally I make my own crust, but this is one of those recipes that you can whip up quickly with most of the stuff you have on hand, so to make it easy (and in keeping with the spirit of the recipe), I purchased a pouch of pre-made, out of the dairy case pie crust, and used it just as Noel indicated. The recipe was a bit non-specific on the sizes of canned items (for instance, "one can of black beans" -- is that a 15oz can or a 28oz can?) I experimented a little, tweaked the instructions a bit, and hope you'll feel free to do the same.
This is one of those pies that tastes great, whether served hot right out of the oven or as a cold leftover. The flour added to the recipe helps to thicken the filling, so that when it’s cut it manages to hold its shape. The hubby likes crust, so I used two crusts to make one deep dish pie instead of the normal two. Either way, this pie is a winner...
Thanks so much for sharing, Noel! So now go and try out this recipe, keep one pie for yourself and give one away to a friend. It's guaranteed to make you and your friend both smile!
So without further ado...
NOEL’S GREEN TOMATO MEXICAN PIE
Makes 2 single crust pies, each of which serves 6
- 2 9 inch Pie shells (from the dairy case)
- 1 pound Italian Turkey sausage, or sausage of your choice -casings removed. (I used Jimmy Dean’s Spicy)
- 1 medium Onion, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
- 3 cups green tomato, sliced into ¼” pieces (I mixed some that were turning red and some really green)
- 1 (15oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (8oz or 1 cup) can green salsa or for a little jucier or slightly larger pie use 2 cups of salsa (I made my own green salsa)
- 1 tablespoon chili powder – more or less to taste (I omitted this - I used spicy sausage, spicy cheese and spicy salsa)
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded (I used 1 cup Pepperjack and 1 cup sharp chedda)
Move oven rack to the middle position. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
In a large skillet (large enough to accommodate all ingredients), crumble and fry sausage until browned; drain well and set aside. In the same skillet, sauté the onion and the tomato until the onions become soft. Remove skillet from heat. Add drained black beans, green salsa, chili powder (if using), and flour. Mix well. Taste for salt and add more if necessary. Set aside.
Prepare 2 crusts by unfolding the pie crust into a pie plate, fluting the edges and piercing floor and sides of the shell. Spoon the filling into the prepared pie shells. Top with cheese. There should not be any filling showing thru the cheese topping; if you can see the filling, shred more cheese to completely top both pies. Bake on a cookie sheet for 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the cheese is melted.