Baking isn’t always as easy as pie, which James Beard Award-winning pastry chef Nick Malgieri addresses in his latest cookbook, Nick Malgieri’s Pastry. With more than a hundred recipes for baking with sweet and savory dough, there’s a culinary project in here for you whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro.
In Italy, where they make savory pies from almost every vegetable imaginable, kale is a popular choice, especially in Tuscany where it’s known as cavolo nero or black cabbage. Teamed up with pancetta, onion, garlic, ricotta, eggs and grated pecorino, its slightly bitter flavor is complemented rather than hidden. This is another great solo dish or delicious accompaniment to plain grilled meat or fish.
Olive Oil Dough
- 1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour (spoon into dry measure cup and level)
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 large eggs
Italian Kale Pie
- 1 (9-inch) cake pan, 2 inches deep, lined with olive oil dough, using 2/3 of the dough for the bottom crust and the remaining dough for the top
- fine sea salt
- 1 1/2 pounds kale, leaves separated from the lower and interior stems, washed and drained (see note)
- 1/4 cup (2 ounces) pancetta, cut into 1-inch dice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup (4 ounces) white or yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, grated
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 pounds whole milk ricotta
- 4 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup (1 1/2 ounces) Pecorino Romano
For the olive oil dough:
- Use a fork to stir together the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder in a medium bowl.
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the oil and eggs.
- Use the fork to beat the eggs and oil together, then gradually draw in the dry ingredients a little at a time until the dough starts to hold together.
- Scrape the contents of the bowl to a lightly floured work surface (it’s okay if there are still some dry bits) and fold the dough over on itself 4 or 5 times, gently kneading it smooth. Kneading too much might make the oil separate from the dough.
- Wrap the dough in plastic and keep at a cool room temperature if you’re using within a few hours; refrigerate for longer storage. This dough keeps well in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
For the Italian kale pie:
- Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil.
- Add the kale and return to a boil.
- Cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
- Drain well, pressing the kale against the colander, cool and coarsely chop.
- Combine the pancetta and oil in a large pan and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the pancetta has colored but is still soft, about 2 or 3 minutes.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a plate covered with paper towels to drain.
- Add the onion to the pan and cook over medium-low heat until softened, about 10 minutes, stir in the garlic, cook for a few seconds, and then stir in the kale.
- Heat through and taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper if necessary.
- Set a rack at the lowest level in the oven and preheat to 400°F.
- To finish the filling, whisk the ricotta and eggs in a large bowl and whisk in the parsley and pecorino.
- Fold in the kale mixture and the pancetta.
- Scrape the filling into the prepared crust and spread evenly.
- Roll the remaining dough for the top crust and use a pattern to cut it to a 9-inch disk.
- Fold the dough at the side of the pan down over the filling and place the disk of dough on the filling and folded dough.
- Cut several vent holes in the top of the pie and brush with oil.
- Set the pie in the oven and lower the temperature to 375°F.
- Bake until the crust is deep golden and the filling is set, 35 to 40 minutes.
- Cool the pie on a rack and serve at room temperature.
Note: If you find kale that has long, thick stems, start with 2 pounds.
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