We went and visited summer over the Fourth of July. It was deliciously hot. Shorts weather, ice cream weather, lake weather. And then we came back to San Francisco’s perpetual April and while I enjoyed the cool nights, I missed summer. It made me think of all the things to love about the hot weather. Things like melty ice cream and freckly skin and gardens overflowing with summer produce. Summer still means zucchini piled up on the countertop and warm cherry tomatoes picked off the vine, even though that’s not really my reality.
There’s no garden outside my apartment, although I do have a sunflower growing on my back deck that I’m hoping will produce at least one bloom. In the past I made an effort with tomatoes and there was one chile pepper plant, but none of them ever produced anything because summer doesn’t really come to San Francisco and it wasn’t hot enough for them to ripen. The deck isn’t large enough for a garden anyway, and my black thumb doesn’t help matters at all. But I still want zucchini and tomatoes and peppers during the summer, even if I can’t grow them myself.
I’ve always kind of wanted to make the ratatouille from the Pixar movie – thinly sliced vegetables, delicately overlapping each other while they cook in a shallow white pan. But in the summer, when the vegetables are actually ready, I don’t have the patience to stand and slice thin thin thin pieces and then carefully layer them around the edge of a pan (plus I don’t have an oval baking dish). If it’s not being cooked on the grill, I want to spend my time doing something else and letting the food take care of itself. The weather is cool enough that I can put a pan in the oven and forget about it. So I made pie. Surprise?
Chunky roasted vegetables nestle down in a cornmeal crust with some goat cheese to bind it all together. The first time I roasted the vegetables with some cloves of garlic, but then the next time I forgot. The same way that the first time I used parsley in the pie and the second time I used scallions instead because that was what I found in the crisper drawer. It was good either way.
- ½ cup flour
- ½ cup cornmeal
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 stick butter, cold and cut into small cubes
- Up to ¼ cup cold milk or water
- 1 lb roma tomatoes (about 3 tomatoes), cut into 8 pieces
- ¾ lb zucchini or summer squash, halved and cut into one inch pieces (about 2 cups)
- 1 lb bell peppers, seeds removed and cut into 1 inch pieces (about 1½ cups)
- 4-6 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- optional: ¼ cup chopped parsley or scallion
- 3 oz goat cheese (about ½ cup pre crumbled goat cheese)
- PREHEAT the oven to 450. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment and grease a 9-inch tart pan.
- TOSS tomatoes, zucchini, garlic, yellow squash, and peppers with salt and oil, and arrange them on a foil or parchment lined baking sheet. Make sure there's some space between the vegetables so they roast rather than steaming. You might need two baking trays for this, but you can put them both in the oven at the same time.
- ROAST the vegetables for 30 minutes, stirring once at the halfway mark. Remove when the vegetables are browned and have given off some of their moisture.
- DECREASE the oven temperature to 375.
- MIX the flour, cornmeal, butter, and salt together and work the butter in until the pieces are no bigger than peas. Add the milk, or water, a tablespoon at a time and stir until it just forms a crumbly dough. You may not need all the liquid for it to come together into crumbs (it's doesn't need to form a whole crust at this point). Dump the dough into the tart pan and press is in to the bottom and up the sides to form the crust. Then stick the crust in the freezer for 20 minutes.
- COMBINE roasted vegetables in a bowl with the thyme, parsley and/or scallions (if using), and about ⅔ of the goat cheese. Stir well.
- PARBAKE the crust at 375 for about 10 minutes. Then turn the heat down to 350, pour in the vegetable mixture and sprinkle the remaining goat cheese on top.
- BAKE the pie for 30-40 minutes, until the crust is golden and the goat cheese is slightly browned on top. Let it cool for 10 minutes and then serve warm.
The leftovers are good cold and will last in the fridge for about a week, but the crust suffers a bit after a few days. This makes an excellent light dinner when served with a salad, or the side to some roasted chicken if you're seeking a heartier meal.